Mobile Broadband Everywhere, Nor Any Device to Link

“Mobile Broadband Everywhere, Nor Any Device to Link”

Innovation&Infrastructure UN Sustainable Development GoalSatellites, balloons and airships, oh my! Reading all the recent press releases about connecting the world to mobile broadband conjures thoughts of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancyent Mariner, in which an old seaman describes the vast salty ocean: “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” In our 21st century analogy, mobile broadband is the water which is portended to cohesively cover vast regions in the emerging world with wireless Internet. Yet billions in those markets do not possess devices necessary to connect – no ability to sip from the forthcoming font. For these vast populations, mobile broadband everywhere will be invisible and of nominal impact for decades to come until compatible devices proliferate.

Mobile Broadband Everywhere, Nor Any Device to LinkLarge company announcements of lofty ambitious, and understandably necessary mobile broadband infrastructure projects frequent media. Boeing will encircle the globe with satellites; Facebook will fly solar-powered drones; Google’s X Company will float giant balloons. The UN has endorsed all of these efforts in the best interest of connecting humanity and improving humankind. But as technologists focus on mobile broadband everywhere to connect future generations, billions on the planet today will be unable to participate in any wireless revolution.

Last week the UN released its latest State of Broadband 2017; most media summed up conclusions with headlines like UN broadband report underlines digital inequality worldwide. Key takeaway: “some 3.9 billion people still do not have access to the [fixed or mobile] Internet.”

The UN State of Broadband report is rosy on mobile broadband everywhere being the path forward for emerging markets; it focuses on buildout of future infrastructure but not the associated challenge of producing and distributing 3.9+ billion compatible devices into populations presently internet-illiterate. Nor does the report consider existing wireless technologies available to fast-track information to already pervasive devices in the hands of these masses, nor does it solve other potential hurdles of gender discrimination and general literacy that may prevent faster deployment and embrace.

This device won't accept mobile broadbandWhat are enterprises and governments doing to address this disconnect between the new networks being deployed and connecting poorer remote populations? So far it seems, not much. Let’s change that. The developing world requires mobile broadband everywhere to provide for a wide range of other much needed technological enhancements for society; but benefits of Internet access can be reaped far sooner by delivering it in a form that is compatible with the current install-base of pervasive handset technology – telephones.

The Internet is about frictionless access to information to enhance lives. It turns out that information dissemination does not require all of the technological aspects we’ve come to associate with the Internet. Information does not require video to be impactful; it turns out most content can be transmitted just fine as audio. Information does not require a smart receiving device if there is intelligence on the network. Keyboards are superfluous in a world where voice recognition and a simple twelve button keypad provide an equally powerful interface. In short, everybody is overthinking what it means to bring the Internet to the rest of the world.


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The mobile phone is a two-way radio. It transmits as well as receives, which makes it an interactive device, which is really all that is required to access and navigate the vast information of the web. SARA teaches us how cognitive computing delivers an audio-centric Internet to billions for whom even radio is uncommon. The technology of SaraConnects instantly transforms any telephone into a smart, personalized interactive radio providing necessary news, information and education. Access requires only a dialed telephone call or text. No apps, no data, no gigs, no restrictions or hurdles to trial. Mobile broadband everywhere? That’s fine, but let’s get to work delivering a web 1.0 that existing populations can access today. We are looking for technology and content partners ready to help us to connect the world in our lifetime. Can you help? Please introduce yourself; we’d love to chat:

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