The Future of the Internet in the Developing World

The Future of the Internet in the Developing World

Photo: Richard Jacquot/Mercy Corps
Photo: Richard Jacquot/Mercy Corps

Want to know a surprising statistic? Approximately 3 billion people (about half the world's population) own cell phones. Even more surprising? More than half of those subscribers live in poor countries. The Economist offers a look at the role technology plays in the lives of those living poverty and the future of the internet in the developing world. However, the question remains: will this trend in cellular telephones be mimicked in the internet industry?

The article concludes that the internet isn't likely to hold the same hope as the cell phone industry for providing a global connection to the world's poor. This is due to both high costs and the unlikelihood that private enterprise will undertake the task. I might argue that this article underestimates the speed of technological innovation. It may just be a matter of time for an internet infrastructure based on optical-fibre lines to develop in such places as Central Africa. Who would have guessed the current reach of cell phones fifty years ago?

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