Wired-less development

When business gurus and industry captains gathered for Telecom World 2003 at the International Telecom Union in Geneva this October, they all agreed that telecoms continued to grow, but not as much or in a manner they expected.

The future of the industry does not rely so much on technology, but rather on leadership and the capability to come up with the right business models”, was how Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard, put it. The internet, in particular, had persuaded many businesses to invest heavily in new technologies, while relying on unrealistic growth expectations. The focus since has turned to services.

Future opportunities, the industry agreed, lie in providing services across new technologies like fixed and mobile wireless platforms, broadband and voice-data interfaces. But any new strategy depends on a well-designed regulatory framework, the conference agreed. As David Currie of the British regulatory body OFCOM suggested, “thanks to deregulation, we have now a much more dynamic, vibrant industry than 20 years ago”.

Regulatory reform, market liberalisation, education and innovation are particularly urgent in regions that are just starting to connect, like most of Africa. True, mobile telephones are spreading, but not so broadband in all markets.

In fact, according to Yasuhiko Kawasumi, rapporteur for an ITU study group on communications for rural and remote areas, ICT technology did not have as strong an impact in rural areas of developing countries as the deployment of radio-based services and wireless local-loop technologies like wi-fi. In Bhutan, wi-fi was used to build a highly effective IP/satellite network for both voice and data, with very low power consumption and costs.

The United Nations and World Bank now accept the potential that wireless technologies hold for developing countries. For experts at the ITU conference, wireless networks require much smaller investment and capital than traditional wire line solutions, using towers, electricity poles, phone booths and other physical supports for their routers without the need to lay new cables. (Some even claim that one day we will be able to get by without fixed infrastructure altogether.)

Wireless networks are flexible in that their performance does not decline when the number of network users grows and the user can take advantage of wireless connections with few limitations. And because wireless systems are built using global industry-wide standards, a number of small independent networks can be built and, at a later stage, merged with others to create a single overall network without loss of quality. But could wireless help poorer countries to trade, via ecommerce for instance? It depends. For now the main issue to overcome would be in secure payment technology for wireless, that some argue, lies in investing more in the integration of diverse networks for data transmission (GSM/UMTS, Bluetooth, WLAN, etc.).

While for card payments some types of wireless communication might not be ideal, for businesses in Africa using the web to make contacts and market their wares, cheap wireless access could make all the difference.

Reference

Visit www.itu.org

©OECD Observer No 240/241, December 2003




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Unemployment
Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016