Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wireless market in Iraq

An article in this month's Spectrum magazine about the wireless market in Baghdad (http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/mar06/3071/1) states that "many middle class Iraqis are paying an astounding 25% - 50% of their income for cell phones." And this for a phone with which you can't roam into or call anyone in a competing wireless network.

Putting that into perspective, that would mean in Germany (where I currently live), a person would be willing to pay between $335 and $770 per month for a mobile. That's on par with what someone would pay for rent. In Iraq, for some people, having a mobile is as important as having a roof over your head.

Anybody still questioning the transformative power of wireless telephony need only look at that statistic. I think its difficult to judge the effect of mobile telephony in first world societies as other competing technologies are just as easily (and perhaps more cheaply) available but its in the midst of chaos that mobile telephony really shines. The (relatively) minimal infrastructure required, the ubiquitous availability of the service. Its easy to see how its transforms the functioning of societies

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