Trylon Communications  - February 2004

Technology Closing Digital Divide

In the 1990s it was the Internet. So far in the new millennium it is wireless communications. New technologies are getting more information to more people faster than ever before - and the possibilities are staggering.

Cell phones are bringing telephone access to developing countries at an incredible rate. Many countries in Asia and Africa are abandoning the concept of copper wires and going digital wireless from the beginning. According to Worldwatch Institute, there are more mobile phone connections than fixed line connections in Africa today 

This trend is reflected in the fact that the annual growth rate of telephone access in low- and middle-income countries has actually surpassed the growth rate of high-income countries.

With this digital access, many end users are accessing wireless Internet technology at a clip that makes the mind reel. Headlines that would take weeks to reach outlying areas of less developed countries now take virtually no time at all.

In the late 1980s, if a person in Paris wanted information on what was happening in Denver, they would probably rely on a newspaper mail subscription that was consistently six or more weeks late. Today they can go online in Paris (or Timbuktu) and read today's headlines before the paper is delivered to the local subscribers!

The ratio of Internet users in developing countries has increased more than twofold between 1995 and 2001. Whereas one person in forty had Internet access in 1995, that ratio in 2001 was one in seventeen. Considering the fact that wireless access is just beginning to be offered, this trend should accelerate dynamically.

The introduction of simple, cheap computers that can access the Internet via wireless is opening new vistas of opportunity to marketers and PR executives alike. As technology allows information to flow seamlessly across borders, the narrowing of the digital divide will be offering global news flow and PR options unlike anything ever witnessed before.