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Low-cost, high-impact technology: $5 cell phones?

Let's see whether we get beyond the press release from Philips (via NextBillion), who promise a:

...sub-$5 system solution – an integrated hardware and software platform constituting all the electronics needed in a mobile phone – that will drive handset costs below $20... Currently, the lowest cost mobile phones on the market are just below $40.

This would obviously increase demand. From The Economist:

Azmi Mikati of Investcom, which runs networks in Africa and the Middle East, estimates that the number of users would double in those markets if the cheapest handset cost $30 instead of $60.

Then the $10 phone and the $5 phone... The Wall Street Journal discusses all the contenders. Unfortunately, as Pablo has mentioned, connection taxes can easily be $15.


Our project, called Private Sector Partnerships-One and funded by USAID, is working in part with independent and private sector midwives in developing countries to help them strengthen their quality of service and remain self-sustaining. It is interesting to consider providing midwives with cell phones, including extras to lend patients (especially those in critical care). The phones could be lent in the last critical stages before delivery, so the midwife could be reached at any time. What if a midwife had 5-10 phones at her disposal to allocate to patients? It might be worthy of a pilot study to see if it impacts quality of care, lessens stressful delivery, affects mortality rates, etc.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Is there anything, anything, now going on in what used to be called, either with delicate euphemistic or with a sneer, the "developing world", but which now really is the developing world, that is more encouraging than the rapid spread throughout said ...

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