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Cellphones Communications Technology

Bringing Cell Phones To the Third World 116

An anonymous reader tips a story about Denis O'Brien, a mobile phone entrepreneur whose goal is to spread cell phones throughout third-world countries. Quoting: "...O'Brien keeps pouring money into the world's poorest, most violent countries. His bet: Give phones to the masses and they'll fight your enemies for you. ...In Trinidad & Tobago, where the state mobile phone firm was dragging its feet on connecting Digicel calls to its own customers, O'Brien harangued government officials to speed things up, even phoning one Christmas night to complain. After the launch the state firm started dropping Digicel calls anyway, making its new competitor look bad. O'Brien took his case to the people, taking out ads in T&T's papers listing life 'Before Digicel' and 'After Digicel' and held a press conference. The state firm eventually relented. In its first four months Digicel bagged 600,000 customers and is narrowing the gap now with the state in market share."
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Bringing Cell Phones To the Third World

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  • Cell phones??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:48AM (#24717783) Journal

    It's easier to get a damn cell [] phone [] than it is to get clean water.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:52AM (#24717811)

    Cause that's what they need...cell phones. Nevermind the maniacs running those countries...

    The fact that cells are routinely disabled [] in areas where heads of state make public appearances is evidence that enabling communication between regular people is a threat to the people who run/own a country.

  • by zeromorph ( 1009305 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:12AM (#24717915)

    Yes, in Africa and large parts of Asian mobile phone networks are not only popular, they are frequently more widespread than the good ol' telephonbe net. It is apparently easier to cover a remote area with a GSM infrastructure and to maintain the facilities than with telephone cables.

    I know several remote villages in India, were you can make a mobile phone call (at least after climbing on a small hill), but the villages have neither phone connections nor electricity nor sanitary equipment.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:26AM (#24718017)

    You misunderstand. If it takes a person in the developing world, say, 1 day, to harvest their field by hand, and somebody goes around charging them, say, the equivalent of 1/2 days labor to do it with a machine that he has, and it costs him, say, the equivalent of 1/10 of a days labor, where's the problem? He is making a horrible, vicious profit of 2/5 days labor on every field, and the worker is making a horrible, vicious profit of 1/2 days labor.

    Profit does not always imply that something hinky is going on. Sure, some of the time it does, but some of the time it just means that somebody has a better way of doing things. Rewarding people for having better ways of doing things is not a bad thing from where I sit.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:43AM (#24719009) Journal

    Without landlines, there's no internet.

    With 3G, at least here in Finland, we have internet everywhere. I see no reason why this wouldn't be possible in any country with mobile phone infrastructure. Only the mobile phone operators need to be connected to an Internet backbone, that's all.

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @12:16PM (#24719237) Homepage

    One of the problems in developing countries is copper theft - if you have a guy rolling out a drum of telephone cable then a mile down the road there's another guy rolling it right back up. Cell towers tend to be extremely well fixed down and have big scary fences and stuff around them. They don't get stolen. Copper wire does.

  • by u38cg ( 607297 ) <> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:31PM (#24721233) Homepage
    And did it occur to you that they might actually have a clearer idea of what might benefit them than you do? Decent, reliable communications are the cornerstone of both civil society and economic growth. They understand that, even if you don't.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"