Joshua Blumenstock

2018 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, School of Information
UC Berkeley

Project Title: Evaluating Community Cellular Networks: How Does Mobile Connectivity Affect Isolated Communities?

Project Summary: Despite the rapid expansion of mobile coverage in the developing world, roughly 10% of the world’s population still lives beyond the reach of a cell tower and all of the platforms, products, and services that cell towers make possible. For the past several years, we have been working in the Philippines to deploy and evaluate an entirely new type of cellular connectivity designed specifically to address the “last mile” problem: the Community Cellular Network. Built on open-source technology, the Community Cellular Network (CCN) provides community-owned cellular infrastructure at one tenth of the cost of traditional mobile towers. The goal of this project is to develop a deeper understanding of the social and economic impacts of first-time access to a mobile phone in isolated communities in the Philippines. This will be the first-ever randomized control trial (RCT) to quantify the impact of first-time access to a cellular network.