Mobile Internet For Pakistan

With the personal computers and the Internet penetration in Pakistan in single digit percentages and the mobile phone penetration approaching 50%, should Pakistanis still aspire primarily for the Western style PC/Internet access model? The answer to this question is clearly a resounding NO. Here is an opportunity for a strategic leapfrog to ubiquitous Internet connectivity via the most prevalent device owned by the largest number of people--the mobile phone. It makes sense from many perspectives: Device cost, connectivity options, electricity availability, usefulness for the vast majority of people, etc. It seems that the Japanese have already been pursuing the mobile connectivity model with widespread voice and data connectivity through the cell phones, popularity of text messaging, use of cell phone as a gaming/entertainment and payment platform.
While the efforts such as OLPC (One laptop per child) for developing nations including Pakistan are laudable, a similar or even greater focus on robust mobile phones is likely to be a faster and cheaper method to accomplish the OLPC program goals. There is no reason why these robust mobile devices could not be used to help students in their academic pursuits. With new capabilities in mobile phones such as voice recognition, speech-to-text, real time audio, video, and translation , students learning can be enhanced at the same time as higher business productivity
is realized for an increasingly mobile workforce in Pakistan, India, and the rest of the developing world.
The policy makers and planners should initiate public-private partnerships to make mobile Internet a reality in Pakistan. The government should work with the mobile phone companies such as Mobilink and Motorola as well as the Internet giants such as Cisco, Google and Microsoft to ensure that the widespread mobile phones in Pakistan are leveraged to improve education and business productivity.


Unknown said…
What you're talking about is already happening...and will happen in a big way in the years to come. Check out the company that is going to be doing this:
Riaz Haq said…
My understanding of Wateen is that they are building a WiMax network. It is not necessarily Mobile broadband for mobile devices but it could be in the future. What I am suggesting is more of a concerted effort along the lines of OLPC to provide large numbers of powerful mobile devices to students to help enhance learning. Hopefully, it'll happen over time.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Pew survey on the use of cell phones to access the Internet:

Six in ten cell phone owners (63%) now go online using their mobile phones, an eight-point increase from the 55% of cell owners who did so at a similar point in 2012 and a two-fold increase over the 31% who did so in 2009. We call these individuals “cell internet users,” and they include anyone who:

Uses the internet on their cell phone (60% of cell owners do this), or
Uses email on their cell phone (52% of cell owners do this)
Taken together, 63% of cell owners do one or both of these things, and are classified as cell internet users. Since 91% of Americans are cell phone owners, this means that 57% of all Americans now go online using a mobile phone. The steady increase in cell phone internet usage follows a similar growth trajectory for smartphone ownership. Over half of all adults (56%) now own a smartphone, and 93% of these smartphone owners use their phone to go online.

The demographics of cell phone internet usage
Just as the overall increase in cell phone internet usage has coincided with the growth in smartphone adoption, the demographic groups most likely to go online using their phones tend to match those with high levels of smartphone ownership. In particular, the following groups have high levels of cell phone internet use:

Young adults: Cell owners ages 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic group to use their phone to go online: 85% of them do so, compared with 73% of cell owners ages 30-49, and 51% of those ages 50-64. Just 22% of cell owners ages 65 and older go online from their phones, making seniors the least likely demographic group to go online from a cell phone.
Non-whites: Three-quarters (74%) of African-American cell phone owners are cell internet users, as are 68% of Hispanic cell owners.
The college-educated: Three-quarters (74%) of cell owners with a college degree or higher are cell internet users, along with two-thirds (67%) of those who have attended (but not graduated) college.
The financially well-off: Cell phone owners living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more per year are significantly more likely than those in every other income category to go online using their phones. Some 79% of these affluent cell owners do so.
Urban and suburban residents: Urban and suburban cell owners are significantly more likely to be cell internet users than those living in rural areas. Some 66% of urbanites and 65% of suburban-dwellers do so, compared to half of rural residents....

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