Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mobile advances

In the grand scheme of telecoms history, mobile phones have made a bigger difference to the lives of more people, more quickly, than any previous technology.

They have spread faster than TV or PCs and proved the easiest and cheapest new technology to adopt.

Even a few years ago the idea of connecting everyone on Earth was considered Utopian

Laughable even

But now It is now clear that the long process of connecting everyone on Earth to a global telecommunications network, which began with the invention of the telegraph in 1791, is nearly complete

Mobile phones will have done more than anything else to advance the democratisation of telecoms, and all the advantages that come with it.

Leaving aside the unknown or undeclared risks from the long term use of mobile phones it is clear that mobile phones are having a greater positive impact on the lives of more people than other single device

And yet ten years ago they were clunky and in the possession of only a few

Today they are within the reach of almost all, if not to own, then at least to use

For the poor mobile phones offer an increasing range of possibilities only dreamt of a decade ago

Mobile phones allow many advances in life possibilities for the poor

Health monitoring, support and advice

Agricultural information

Advice on prices

On crops

On social and sports events

Weather warnings

But maybe the single most important is the transfer of money

Putting those too poor to open a bank account in a position to hold money safely

To transfer and pay bills

This last aspect is well developed in Kenya, Indonesia the Philippines, and some other countries where there is competition amongst network providers
But in countries where there is only one provider, such as Ethiopia usage is limited, the uptake slower the costs higher and the services fewer
The next steps allowing greater transfer of data through internet access promise another jump in connectedness
Sadly as so often is the case greed and corruption slow this advance in many countries
Ironically the mobile phone itself is slowly helping to loosen these constraints through greater awareness and communication

Where else will mobile usuage take us, all of us?

Who knows!

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