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 Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The International Herald Tribune in their recent article on Wireless: From zero to 3G: A cellphone utopia? , noted that "Executives in the cellphone and computer industries are fond of speaking about bridging the digital divide, the gap between people with access to technology and those without. But translating the talk into action is not easy. In addition, the benefits of high-tech gadgetry for the poor often are not evident. How do you bring Internet access to remote villages in Africa? And are people's lives going to improve once they can get online? The GSM Association, a trade group that represents mobile phone operators in 213 countries, has a plan for the first question and responds with a resounding yes to the second."

"This month, the association introduced a "3G for All" program that aims to make multimedia phone services and mobile Internet access available to people on the fringe of the digital world. Bringing cellphone services to the two-thirds of the world's population that does not yet use them has long been a goal of the association, which last year promoted a project to build the cheapest possible telephone. Thanks in part to that initiative, the wholesale price of the cheapest cellphones has dropped to less than $30, but now the association wants to take that a step further by encouraging the production of a low-cost mobile phone that works on third-generation networks. Those phones today are typically expensive and advanced, nearly mini-computers themselves."

The aim is to have a group of GSM Association members to define a core set of requirements that the low-cost 3G handsets must have, and then several manufacturers will compete to design the phone that best meets those requirements at the most competitive price.

Read the full story on the International Herald Tribune website.

Access the GSM Association Press Release on the 3G for All program.