Mobile broadband has a higher positive impact than fixed broadband on economic growth, according to a new report from the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program.
The report recommended a number of policies to increase the adoption of mobile broadband, especially in developing economies.
In some countries, such as Colombia, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam, mobile broadband is already the main platform for broadband access, having surpassed fixed broadband by more than 10 times in the two African countries and almost three times in Vietnam, said the report, “Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile.”
The World Bank encourages operators to consider prepaid packages and other tailored services for mobile broadband services, such as offering a USB dongle with a certain amount of data that can be used on laptops or PCs over cellular networks. “In Colombia, operators offer prepaid mobile broadband for different prices based on duration and service access, ranging from $0.50 a day for chat or email access only to $25 a month for full broadband access,” which is less than 6 percent of monthly gross national income per capita at the highest offering, said the study.
The World Bank recommended that governments ensure sufficient availability of quality spectrum for deployment of cost-effective mobile broadband networks, particularly in the lower bands, such as 700 MHz and 800 MHz, which “can be more cost-effective, allowing for both wider coverage from fewer radio base stations and higher powers to support building penetration
There are more than six billion mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, up from fewer than one billion in 2000, which means some 75 percent of the world’s inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone.
The report also noted that more than 30 billion mobile applications were downloaded in 2011.