Radioactive: The next billion mobile users, by Stewart Baines

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Last month, the GSM Association announced the second phase of its Ultra-Low Cost (ULC) mobile phone initiative, aimed at making cellular more affordable in the developing world. The first phase, announced at the 3GSM Congress in Cannes, saw Motorola scoop the prize of producing six million handsets at the sub-$40 level.

The majority of these handsets have now been delivered to the operators backing the GSM Association initiative, including BSNL and Bharti from India, GrameenPhone from Bangladesh, Thailand’s AIS, Globe Telecom in the Philippines and Egypt’s Orascom – which recently swallowed up Wind, the third largest operator in Italy. The second phase of the GSMA initiative will seek to drive the price below $30 per handset.

The GSM Association is pretty convinced that cheap handsets equal new customers. “At the right entry level, we believe there is the potential for over a hundred million new connections per year,” GSMA chairman Craig Ehrlich told Radioactive.
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