South Asia is bearing witness to the power of the mobile device to empower millions with information, content and services. In the 21st centaury South Asia is a mobile enable region. Mobile technology and content services delivery and changing the way the vast population in South Asia communicate, inform and get connected to meet information-content needs within larger and diverse social and economic conditions. Along with internet, it is the mobile phone platform and content delivered that is determining the way citizens in South Asia are moving towards a knowledge enabled social and economic landscape. Globally mobile phone has been the most rapidly adopted technology history. Today is the most popular and wide spread personal technology on the planet with 4.6 billion subscriptions globally by the end of 2009,accordingly to ITU. Mobile phone subscriptions in South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) exceeded 350 million in December 2008, according to information Service)WCIS. This represented 25% of Asia Pacific’s total mobile phone subscriptions a figure that is forecast to increase by 36% to 775 million by the end of 2012.
India has reached 600 million mobile penetrations. Other countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in South Asia are also showing great results as mobile users. The population per coverage of mobile in this region is : India – 46.37, Bangladesh – 31.11, Sri Lanka – 51 and Pakistan – 59 and the trend is moving up each day. In 2014 India will have 1.26 billion people with mobile penetration of 1.01 billion, the mobile teledensity > 80%: out of every 10 Indians will have access to a mobile device(estimate)
This process is further accelerated as mobile telecommunication move from second to third generation technology. The internet and its services are coming to wireless devices and the mobile platform is ready to take the centre stage. Players and stakeholders are ready to play dynamic roles to meet needs of mobile digital economy and society catering to a billion plus population.
The trends are obvious. It is a common sight to observer street vendors, rickshaws pullers and newspaper hawkers routinely talking on their mobile phones in cities. Mobile phone users in India are empowered economically by informed price of agriculture products, women users in Bangladesh are using mobile phones to streamline their micro phones streamline their micro finance enabled livelihood generated programmes. In Sri Lanka mobile phones are used to find out train timetables , prices of agriculture produce, areas ideal for fishing etc. by now mobile phones have become a necessity beyond the luxury tag and have turned in to a powerful tool for mass empowerment .
Media phones /mobile communication devices are widely regarded as the “fourth screen” in the market after the cinema, TV and PC. These handy gadgets can now do anything from allowing physicians to review patient records on-the- go, to alert drivers in any city of nearby parking spaces while looking for a spot in addition to the texting, surfing and calling on many of today’s phones.
The power of mobile in meeting knowledge, social and economic deficits is a challenge in these countries. Yet the power of mobile innovations and applications in content and service delivery is amazing and exponentially on the rise. The cellular age is fast accelerating with cell phones magnifying our larger identity in both individual and collective domains and in various social , cultural and economic contexts.
Among the reason for the speedy penetration of mobile technology are : mobile phones are more affordable than computers; they require less infrastructure; they do not require the user to have much technological knowledge to even to be able to read and write and are easy to carry from place to place. They lend themselves to flexible usage (text, voice and two – way communication) ; they do not require special training and the cost of connectivity are relatively low. Due to the low cost of labor, mobile phones in developing countries are much cheaper and easier to repair than computers.
The need of the hour is to give a thrust on mobile for delivering meaning full services , especially that could empower and enable efficient day- to- day life for the larger masses ; facilitating the creation of the best of applications, contents and services accumulated as examples to drive the Government and industry to ensure they create meaningful opportunities in mobile content and services.
“ The mobile phone has moved to the centre of community life in many places. In Africa, urban churches record sermons with mobile phones, and then transmit them to villages to be replayed. In Iran and Moldova mobile phones helped to organize popular uprisings against authoritarian governments. In India the mobile phone is used to allow citizen election monitoring and to equip voters, via text message, with information on the candidates’ Income and criminal backgrounds” (New York Times, April 9, 2010.)