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Driving the Costs Down

Last February, the GSM Association (the organization of manufacturers of mobile phones on the globally-used GSM standard) announced the Emerging Markets Handset Program, seeking to drive the end-user cost of a useful GSM phone in the developing world to under $40 by next year, and eventually to below $30. But for many, even $30 apiece is still not nearly low enough. Philips is launching a project to build a GSM phone (with SMS capability) with an end-user cost of $20; their goal is to bring that down to below $15 apiece by 2008.

The networking capabilities of these handsets are limited to voice and SMS (so no GPRS Internet access), but that's still a markedly useful level of information and communication technology. Even though the cost may still be too high for many individuals, this can still have a dramatic impact on development: $15 phones would make the Grameen Phone program able to reach a far wider array of communities, for example.

(Via Unmediated)


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