As the number of mobile phone subscribers soars worldwide, this Opinion argues that increasing mobile penetration brings developmental benefits, but effective regulation is required to ensure fair competition and encourage roll-out to underserved areas.
The Opinion outlines three kinds of development benefits resulting from mobile phone technology. First, incremental -- improving what people already do. Second, transformational - offering people something new, such as m-banking. And third, production benefits that result from the creation of new livelihoods.
It outlines the key role of governments in creating an environment in which mobile phone technology results in genuine benefits for development. This requires the right combination of market liberalisation policies and effective regulation.