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Yesterday I was in London for the Appleton Lecture, where Frances Cairncross made some interesting comments about the future of wireless. Today there are 155 million people in Africa using GSM phones (for perspective, the World total is 2.2 billion), and interestingly the growth is nearly all prepaid: 87% of Africans use a pay-as-you-go model. We've seen prepaid revolutionize mobile phones in Europe: they are popular in the UK, (where nearly everyone has a mobile phone, even children as young as 8), but mostly there is a balance of prepaid and contract. I did read that Norway is an exception, where prepaid is a very small business, and people prefer contract. So in the developing World, prepaid is a big deal, and so the market for CAMEL products (which support roaming and prepaid) will continue to be buoyant in the next few years, as the 3G and IMS technologies start to filter in.
Another fact that struck me as interesting was about home workers. The UK Government surveyed home workers (teleworkers) and split them into two categories: those that work at home all the time, and those who work in a number of locations, but using home as a base. The second category is growing much faster than the first, which means that the nature of work, "going into the office" is set to change a lot in the future. With technologies like WiMax and LTE reaching into our homes (and even mobiles and PDAs) the reasons to cluster around a shared location will get fewer and fewer.