Telecoms Hungry for Next Billion Callers

Monday, December 11, 2006

One of the big topics discussed at this week’s ITU Telecom World 2006 forum in Hong Kong has been how to narrow the digital divide by connecting people in poorer countries to the Internet. The estimated 1 billion Internet users and 2 billion-plus mobile phone subscribers worldwide are mostly clustered in wealthier markets. Now telecom and IT executives are on a quest for “the next billion,” and that growth is expected to come primarily from developing markets.

Why focus on emerging markets? After all, most customers in those countries can’t afford the fancy phones that drive up average selling prices. But already a majority of the industry’s telecom connections come from developing markets. By the end of the decade the number will increase to 69%, according to market research firm Gartner (IT).

And customers in the developing world are willing to spend a larger percentage of their disposable income on communications, Gartner says. “The hunger for improved connections is strong,” says Jouni Forsman, a Gartner research director, via a press release. “The high level of disposable income being spent on communications in developing countries today is clear evidence that the telecoms industry is mission critical in the emerging world.”

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Source: BusinessWeek (link opens in a new window)