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Email of the day: Mobile phones saving the world

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COMMENTS

29 January 2008 09:24

In response to my post of last Friday on the potential for mobile phones (rather than laptops) to boost economic development in poorer countries, Erin Maulday writes:

...you are right about the current trend towards mass SMSing in developing countries. In fact, in Australia it was this type of practice that swelled the Cronulla riots. When I was in Malaysia last year, I saw it first hand a week before the November Indian riots in Kuala Lumpur. An Indian taxi driver showed me an SMS he had received up the protest planned for that weekend. It invoked the spirit of Gandhi, and called upon all Indian Malaysians to protest the mis-treatment they have been, according to them, subjected to. The protest was a big one and it turned violent. SMSing contributed significantly.

Technology is steering fixed and mobile telephony together. But the real limiter in developing countries will be the infrastructure upgrades required to support this development. Manufacturers can come up with hand-held devices that support the streaming of live video to be used for development purposes in health or educational projects throughout remote regions of developing countries, but if the locations are out of range of 3G technology or above, then the fastest, most reliable packets that can be sent over wireless networks is SMS and MMS. HSPA and WiMax rollouts (the kinds of infrastructure that support internet streaming over wireless networks), cost hundreds of millions and will go into first world countries — and the big cities at that — first.

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