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Mobile Telephony: Economic and Social Impact

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  • Faulhaber, Gerald R.
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    Abstract

    The ubiquitous cell phone is often portrayed as the scourge of civilized society: rude callers on streets, in malls and offices, disturbing those around them with loud talking, school kids constantly texting in class, drivers whose attention has wandered during a cell phone conversation causing accidents, “crackberry” addicts who check their e-mail during real-world conversations, the list goes on. Is this an invention whose result has been to make us all worse off, like Internet spam and phishing attacks? In this paper, I informally survey the rise and impact of cellular technology, both in the US and the world. I find that the reach and the speed of its worldwide diffusion has exceeded even that of the Internet, and certainly with far more reach and speed than the personal computer. Mobile’s economic and social impact has been unprecedented, especially in the developing world where it has been a boon to economic development. While many in the US focus on expanding the diffusion of the PC both domestically and worldwide, as well as expanding the availability of broadband connectivity, I argue that while PC-broadband architecture will continue to be important, the terminal device of choice for most people on this planet will be the mobile, accessing information services over a wireless connection. Mobile telephony is, I believe, the highest impact communications technology of the last 50 years, rivaled only by the Internet.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 25.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:25

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    Web page: http://regulation2point0.org/

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