By about 2021, more than 90 percent of all people on the planet will have access to Internet access provided by mobile operators, Ericsson estimates.
That is significant for several reasons, not the least of which is that we need to keep focused on where we are going, and how fast, rather than where we have been.
Many observers have a vested interest in arguing that the digital divide remains wide and an intractable problem, even if the “problem” is being rapidly solved.
That is not a criticism, only an observation institutional bias exists. To gain resources to “solve” a problem, one must first convince decisionmakers that a problem exists. When a particular problem is solved, most agencies then seek a new problem to solve.
Though we have not yet completely solved the “access to voice and messaging communications” problem, we can confidently say we will do so, and in the near future. In a similar manner, we are making rapid progress on the Internet access front, despite the distance to be covered.
Coverage of 90 percent of the world’s people is quite an achievement.
That is not to say access speeds will universally be appealing. Much of the access will be provided by GSM Edge networks that are not so fast. But coverage of 3G networks will reach 90 percent, while 4G will reach about 75 percent of people in about five years.
In telecommunications time, that is really fast.