Mobile phones not only contribute to the growth of a nation but also help make lives better, suggests a study of Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent’s research arm.
It has come out with a white paper developed with the support of World Economic Forum’s Telecommunications Industry Global Agenda Council entitled “Putting Broadband in the Palms of People’s Hands: A Model to Drive Faster Economic and Social Growth”. The paper describes the impact of widespread access to mobile communications on economic and social growth in developing economies.
To create the paper, teams of experts from Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs and the World Economic Forum’s Telecommunications Industry Global Agenda Council conducted in-depth studies of the mobile landscape in emerging markets, particularly in Bangladesh, Kenya and Venezuela.
The research revealed that mobile phones have the potential to grow the benefits even more quickly both in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and HDI (Human Development Index — a measure of quality of life based on life expectancy, education and standard of living).
Previous research by the World Bank has highlighted that 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration leads to a 1 per cent increase in GDP in low- and middle-income economies.
The study also documents the versatility and impact of mobile voice and data applications in socioeconomic development. It has cited how in India, fishermen use mobile phones to find the best markets for their catch.
According to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), India has 811 million cellphone users.
“Mobility is about so much more than mobile phones. It gives people access to services, information and markets that were previously unavailable to them. In short, it’s about inclusion and giving people the ability to do more,” said Rajeev Singh-Molares, president of Asia Pacific region at Alcatel-Lucent, and vice-chairman of the WEF GAC working group that conducted the study.
The report said that “a range of applications relevant to the target audience will increase the desirability of mobile devices”.
The study suggests that the total cost of mobile communication should be less than 5 per cent of household budgets, to become a realistic option for many in low- and middle-income countries.
Phone and content creators, wealthier consumers who upgrade their handsets regularly and government agencies can all play a part in getting affordable hardware and connectivity to the hands of the poor.