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Executive Summary

The Global Mobile Cellular Revolution

The global boom in mobile cellular communications has been truly astounding. At the end of 1998 there were more than 300 million subscribers around the world, up from just 11 million in 1990. By the end of this decade there will be more than half a billion mobile users. Mobile cellular already accounts for almost one-third of all telephone connections. It seems highly likely that the number of mobile cellular subscribers will surpass conventional fixed lines during the first decade of the next millennium. Both developed and developing countries are sharing in this revolution: in developed countries, users are flocking to mobile cellular as a complement to existing fixed-lines; in developing nations, mobile cellular is emerging as a substitute for shortages of fixed-lines (Figure 1 and Box 1).

The mobile cellular boom has revolutionized the concept of telephony in a number of ways. First and foremost, with mobile, users no longer call a place but a person. Small, portable handsets have liberated users from the cord that tied telephones to a geographic location, enabling users to be reached anytime, anywhere. Beyond this, compared with fixed telephones, mobile cellular typically offers a greater variety of options in terms of features and tariffs.

Mobile cellular was the first telecommunication market segment where private ownership and competition were introduced in many countries. Start-up mobile cellular companies are almost always backed by foreign, strategic investors. This combination of competitive markets, private ownership and foreign investment has created an appropriate environment for rapid growth. But the market has been driven, as much as anything, by rampant demand. When mobilephones were first introduced in the early 1980s, they were mainly confined to cars, constrained by weight and power requirements. But as mobilephones became lighter, cheaper and more attractive, they have left the car and entered the briefcase, the handbag and the pocket. A modern portable typically weighs a few hundred grams, is brightly coloured, has a small screen and more features than the average user might use in a lifetime. Mobilephones have as much in common with fashion accessories as plain old telephones. The success of mobile has been a triumph of technology married with marketing.

By the end of this decade there will be more than half a billion mobile users

 

 

 

 

The success of mobile has been a triumph of technology married with marketing.

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Updated : 2007-08-28