Global Mobile

Tech@State: Mobile Remittances

On Monday at the State Department, I joined a couple hundred innovators, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and thinkers at Tech@State: Mobile Money, which explored mobile commerce and its applications throughout the world.

One of these emerging uses lies in the field of remittances, championed by Bill Barhydt, founder and CEO of m-Via -- the first international mobile remittances company based in the U.S. In a nutshell, his business allows users to send and receive micro-payments using their mobile phones, creating "mobile wallets" which allow recipients to decide where, when, and how much they withdraw.

M-Via has enjoyed remarkable success in its roll-out phases, with 15% week-on-week growth in participation and nearly four times as many remits compared to conventional snail-mail or branch-banking methods. And although m-Via currently operates with Mexico, Barhydt told us that the program will expand to sixteen more Latin American countries by the end of this year.

Three take-away words from yesterday's conference easily explain m-Via’s uncommon success: convenience, security, and interoperability.

Convenience: Barhydt’s company saves users valuable time and money. The conventional process -- primarily mailing cash or wiring via Western Union -- consumes too many resources for both parties, who must have a credit-worthy bank account, time to fill out paperwork or visit the post office, and money to cover associated fees and travel costs. m-Via eliminates these issues. Once an SMS transaction is sent, all receivers need to do is reply, enter a personal code, and visit one of the tens of thousands of partners, retailers, and compatible ATMs stationed throughout the country to withdraw funds from their mobile wallet.

Security: In one rural town Barhydt visited during his recent trip to Mexico, wise families won’t make the trip to the bank to pick up remittances on Tuesdays. Thieves know, he told us, that most families withdraw remittances on Tuesdays, making the trip a dangerous outing. Considering that migrant workers send larger amounts on fewer occasions to save money, families feel at-risk picking up and carrying large sums of cash. m-Via allows recipients to take shorter trips to withdrawal facilities and to only take out as much as they need, leaving the rest in their “mobile wallet.”

Interoperability: Where m-Via shows the most promise is in its infrastructural capacity to function with major interbank networks (that Cirrus or Interlink logo on the back of your bank card). In other words, m-Via isn’t trying to get users to switch banks, change carriers, or use certain ATMs; on the contrary, the goal is to make the service as widely available and accessible as possible.

Contrast this to mobile money in the Philippines, where remittances comprise 11%, or $15.8 billion, of the country’s GDP. In this space, Globe GCASH and Smart Money compete heavily for mobile money consumers, making them use each company’s proprietary financial system rather than focusing on compatibility (although it must be mentioned that the latter recently reached an agreement with MasterCard). These “low-interoperability, highly competitive landscapes”, said Barhydt, make the mobile money ecosystem fragmented and inefficient.

m-Via’s success is magnified in light of the daunting obstacles facing the mobile micro-payment marketplace. The first, Barhydt explained, is the congested and obsolete financial regulatory process which stifles a small 35-strong company such as m-Via and absorbs too many resources. Another more serious issue, raised by Obopay CEO Carol Realini, is the fierce opposition mobile money start-ups encounter by powerful and established mobile operators in foreign markets. Indeed, Barhydt echoed that América Móvil, Mexico’s largest mobile provider led by mega-billionaire Carlos Slim, has given m-Via a hard time getting a foothold in the marketplace.  

Despite these obstacles, m-Via’s business model seems to be working, primarily because he’s tapped into the relatively untapped market of mobile remittances -- a $300-billion-a-year industry involving nearly 200 million migrants worldwide. And since users can send and receive money without a bank account, the program provides a great option for the marginalized unbanked population. All said and done, m-Via joins a fleet of new companies set to prove how mobile technology, when done right, can be leveraged to the benefit of millions.

An Open-Source, Solar-Powered, Portable Mobile Network

A team of technologists have developed a portable, low-cost cellular network alternative, perfect for providing coverage to poorer, rural, and hard-to-reach areas where few established network providers dare go.

The OpenBTS project (BTS = Base Transceiver Station, and brace yourselves for several more acronyms coming up) allows users to construct an open-source, software-based network that can be installed and operated at one-tenth the cost of current technologies. This means that companies operating a BTS network could potentially turn a profit charging users only $2/month.

The (rather intimidating) technical details behind the OpenBTS project are described at length on their blog, but thankfully this review by Engineering For Change helps simplify the process:

At its core is open-source software that creates an interface for cellphones to connect to the network. The software is installed on a computer with a Linux operating system. An open-source device, called a Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP), plugs into the computer. Together, they create a signal that looks just like any signal for GSM phones... To complete the trick, the software plus the USRP hardware links to an open-source PBX called Asterisk. The PBX, a private bank exchange, is a server that acts like a switchboard to place calls.

As well as providing an alternative to conventional cellular networks, the OpenBTS network is highly portable, making it easy to bring connectivity to the most remote locations. OpenBTS’ rapid deployment kit is a transportable version of the technology which essentially amounts to  a mobile network in a box. As the project’s website explains, “Each box is a self-contained BTS unit, runs on a 12-16 VCD supply, [and] has a service radius of about 10 miles in rural conditions... Robust, simple, inexpensive.”

Once the equipment is set up, the network will show up on the screen of any GSM mobile phone within range of the transceiver (GSM is the most widely adopted cellphone standard in the world). If the laptop is connected to the Internet, the network expands to the broader communications network through VoIP (Voice Over IP).

Because of its portability and GSM compatibility, the BTS network could revolutionize mobile phone usage in rural or distant areas deemed too inaccessible by conventional carriers. And it’s got a huge financial edge, as well. The entire network, including building an optional base antenna to widen the network (shown at left), costs roughly $20,000, compared to the $200,000 a conventional phone company would need to invest in an off-the-grid network. And since it’s powered by solar panels, OpenBTS saves thousands of dollars in transporting, operating, and guarding diesel, according to co-founder David Burgess.

Through years of development, the network has been field-tested a number of times. Burgess and his team tested OpenBTS in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert at Burning Man (an area with very little coverage), and also at the entirely un-networked Polynesian island of Niue. Most notably, the BTS system was picked up by Orange and Ericsson, who in 2009 announced plans to install 100 base stations in rural Africa.

Despite its successes in the field, OpenBTS faces a few very real obstacles -- fixing software bugs, meeting network regulations and standards, addressing security and encryption issues, and ensuring a reliable signal, to name a few (at Burning Man 2008, voice communications clogged the network and forced the team to transmit only SMS messages). Fortunately, the entire set-up runs on open-source software and hardware, meaning that entrepreneurs and technicians around the world can work together to build a stronger BTS network.

As astonishing numbers regarding global mobile subscriptions and handset sales continue to grow, it’s important to remember that the devices themselves are only as powerful as the network in which they operate. OpenBTS provides this gateway to connectivity in the rural areas which need it most -- hard-to-reach places where BTS-enabled mobile communication could improve health, education, finances, and citizenship.

This Week in Global Mobile | July 30, 2010

At times its difficult to keep pace with all the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the ever-growing global network of connectivity:

  • Chinese Internet users rose 10% to 420 million in the last six months alone, with 278.6 million of them using mobile handsets to access the Internet, according to a Chinese report.
  • On Monday the FCC and FDA signed a landmark agreement to promote innovation in wireless medical devices. Read our coverage of the event here.
  • BusinessWeek reports that the global mobile commerce industry is expected to grow from $23bn in 2010 to over $100bn in 2015.
  • Google announced Apps for Government, the first cloud application suite to be certified for and adopted by the government.
  • A trial session of Worldreader in Ghana demonstrated that providing Kindle readers to Africans improved literacy rates in the region.
  • A Russian court ordered an ISP to ban YouTube after what was judged to be an extremist video was hosted on the site, while in Lebanon four men were arrested for “insulting the president on Facebook.”
  • The Rwandan government is handing out mobile phones to volunteer health care workers who are dispatched to various villages to register and monitor expectant mothers.
  • The Mayo Clinic just opened its Center for Social Media, a “first-of-its-kind social media center focused on health care.”
  • Following up on his TED Talk on the subject, Ethan Zuckerman looks at how Facebook usage proves his theory that, contrary to public perception, the Internet doesn’t really cause users to reach out of their “social bubbles.”
  • UAE authorities arrested BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) users for organization a protest against high gas prices using their mobile phones.
  • The Apps4Army contest challenged U.S. soldiers to design mobile apps for the military. Yesterday the winners were announced, as well as this statistic: This crowdsourced process cut development time down from one year to 90 days.
  • Vodafone is bringing a solar-powered mobile phone to India which runs eight days on standby following an 8-hour charge in the sunlight.

Setting the Record Straight

Working in a geeky little niche as I do, it's never a surprise to encounter well-informed people who actually don't have a clue what I mean by "mHeatlh" or "digital learning" or "intermediary liability."  But (and maybe this is just the IR student in me) I expect more from Foreign Affairs. Their online article "Getting Digital Statecraft Right," by Betsy Gelb and Emmanuel Yujuico is so flawed and misinformed, I feel the need to set them straight here-- a bloggerish indulgence that I don't usually go in for.

The problems begin in the first sentence, as Gelb & Yujuico announce that "In January, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for the United States to pursue a policy of 'twenty-first-century statecraft,'" which is, in fact, something the Secretary first called for eight months earlier, in May of 2009. But the bigger issues with their piece are rhetorical, and seem to stem from a misunderstanding of how the State Department has integrated connective technology into their work over the past 18 months, and the nature of their stated plans to continue doing so.

The authors compare our government's efforts to leverage the global communications network to Henry Ford's crackpot scheme to build a model midwestern town in the Amazon rainforest, and to the One Laptop Per Child program's misguided attempts to shower the developing world with inexpensive technology. It's entirely unclear how these failed schemes relate to State's efforts to conduct public diplomacy via social media, or their effort to see internet censorship treated equally to offline censorship.  But somehow, the authors take the lesson that Secretary Clinton is overreaching with her "grandiose" strategy.

While I think Gelb & Yujuico are right that "small wins" are a better objective than "transformative victories," I think the most cursory review of the State Department's 21st Century Statecraft initiative will reveal that its achievements and ambitions are, in fact, small-scale and focused on solvable problems. While the objectives of the Internet Freedom initiative are clearly broader, the intent is not any massive social change, as the authors imply; rather, it's about establishing an understanding that basic human rights ought to be respected in the online sphere.

But deeper than all that, what Gelb & Yujuico misunderstand is that the State Department's efforts are not rooted in some messianic desire to change the world. The truth is quite the opposite: 21st Century Statecraft and Internet Freedom are initiatives crafted in response to changes in the way our world works. We're not throwing technology at other countries and hoping it makes them prosperous and democratic. The technology is already there.  The network is already global. And what the State Department is doing is an attempt to use the same tools that everyone on earth is using, for the same objectives they've always pursued.

Shoot, maybe I should just write my own essay about this.

FCC and FDA Bring Wireless Devices to the Forefront

At a public meeting at FCC's headquarters on Monday, Chairman Julius Genachowski and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announced a landmark agreement to start a substantive conversation about the role of wireless communications in health care. With U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra presiding, the two leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a Joint Statement of Principles highlighting the importance of nurturing mobile health innovation.

In his opening remarks, Genachowski summarized:

"All Americans stand to benefit from broadband-enabled wireless health solutions... Today's action will promote investment and innovation in health technologies, help realize potential cost savings, and deliver real health benefits to the American people."

Following the introductory comments, representatives from the health care industry, wireless technology groups, relevant agencies, and other stakeholderes gathered in a series of panels to share their perspectives on wireless health. Throughout the day, two conclusions were made clear:

1. Wireless and mobile health technologies will profoundly impact every corner of the health care industry:

In the nearby exhibitors' rooms, 25 mHealth innovators displayed an impressive showcase of wireless health technologies. Watch the FCC and FDA leaders tour the exhibits below (or on YouTube here):



Most of these exhibits demonstrated how mobile wireless technologies can improve patient monitoring and communication -- devices which monitor glucose levels 24/7 and send SMS warnings to diabetic patients, for example. But as Drexel University biomedical engineer Elliot Sloane explained, implementing wireless technology into health care will have far-reaching effects on the entire ecoystem.

For example, social networks could be incorporated into hospitals and nursing homes, allowing "P2P" -- patient-to-patient -- communication. Wireless entertainment systems in health care facilities could enhance the patient and family experience. On-call doctors would be more readily available if they could conduct procedures wirelessly from their homes. And the wireless transmission of patient information between and within hospitals would bring efficiency and transparency to an oudated system. No area of health care stands to lose from this technology.

2. Still, the vast potential of this emerging space is matched by the numerous challenges confronting it:

Panelists representing the wireless health industry expressed several challenges facing wireless and mobile health technologies. By far the biggest concern was mentioned by DexCom's CTO Jorge Valdes, who said that FCC and FDA regulation needs to be more "flexible and intelligent." Too often, he continued, the rate of mobile innovation exceeds the time consumed by the approval process of the FDA and FCC. By the time a wireless monitoring device is finally approved, the mobile phone for which it was made is already discontinued or obsolete. Additionally, regulations regarding spectrum allocations to the wireless health community need to be reviewed often in order to ensure network interoperability and international function.

Another concern among the panelists was what Intel's Bonnie Norman called "the human factor." It is critically important that these new wireless innovations conform to the patients' lifestyles, not vice-versa. Devices can't be cumbersome of finnicky. They must have "mobility and adaptability" in order to accommodate the lifestyles of athletes, young veterans, and students. The challenge is particularly salient among young patients, echoed another panelist, who "fully expect their solution to integrate completely with their smart phone. They don't want to carry around another device."

The final issue worth mentioning was again raised by Bonnie Norman. IT and network infrastructure must be able to reliably and securely keep up to pace with wireless health solutions. It's one thing to experience the occasional dropped call on your iPhone, she said, but when your mother's life is on the line, you can't afford for her device's emergency signal to be lost by the network. And the IT systems in the health care industry must be able to synthesize and make accessible the "tsunami of data" which flow from full-time wireless monitoring and communications.

It's clear to me, as it was to the panelists, that a conversation about wireless health technologies is long-overdue. The new FCC-FDA partnership should pave the way for a new era of wireless health innovation, making good on Dr. Hamburg's declaration that "the convergence of communications technology and medical technology could change the face of medicine forever."

Global IP Rights & the Free Flow of Information: Prerequisites for Job Growth in Technology

Last week, Rob, Simon and Jake teamed up on a paper addressing the anemic job creation rates we've seen in the U.S. over the past decade, putting forward a few different explanations of the problem, and offering a series of policy ideas to address both short term unemployment problems and long term, systemic issues with job creation.

There's a lot in the paper that should interest we Global Mobile people.  The last real expansion in the American job market came in the 1990s, largely on the heels of growth in the telecommunications and technology sectors. But some of the driving factors behind the stagnant wages and negligible job growth of the past decade are technological as well.  From the paper:

The spread of information and Internet technologies across American factories and offices not only made millions of positions redundant. These developments also created a growing mismatch between the skills of millions of American workers and the new abilities required to be productive in jobs throughout the economy.

So it follows that part of the solution is technology-based, as well. The policy section of the paper calls for free IT training for all American workers, and "innovation centers" -- an idea that was echoed by David Brooks in his column yesterday. 

I want to post-facto add another dimension to the paper-- another possible explanation of lackluster job & wage growth, and another prescription for potential improvement.  It's less significant than the issues they hit upon in the paper, but one that is, I think, worth some thought and discussion: the question of intellectual property rights, and the closely related issue of the free flow of information on the internet. 

As Rob laid out in his (highly recommended) 2008 paper on The Idea-Based Economy and Globalization, intellectual property-- patents, brands, trademarks, databases, relationships, business methods, and other institutional knowledge-- make up 60% of the market cap value for the world's 150 top corporations.  In 1984, the proportion was very different: 75% of a company's value was in its physical assets.  This shift is thanks, in part, to the technological revolution of the past few decades. An improvement of IT has allowed companies to make much better use of information, and put a lot more investment into intangible intellectual property.  And throughout the 1990s, the U.S. saw significant economic growth thanks, largely, to growth in the telecom and technology sectors-- which are even more dependent on their IP than most other sectors. Microsoft, for example, is a company that is not worth very much at all without its IP.  The same goes for Google, or Apple, or even a company like Nike.

If we want to see more investment in innovation and R&D, innovation centers are a great way to go about it.  But no corporation is going to put money toward developing ideas if they can't be confident they will own their intellectual property, and have rights over it-- not just in the U.S., but around the world.  And as long as pirated copies of Microsoft Windows are easier to find in China than legitimate versions of the software, and the global trade in pirated DVDs rivals or outpaces the trade in legal DVDs, the incentive for investment is going to be lower than it could otherwise be.

Meanwhile, many of these same companies have great incentive for the global flow of information to be free and open.  Corporations in the telecom industry and the high-tech industry (particularly in software and web services), have a major stake in ensuring that the internet remains a single, global network, rather than a series of isolated, national intranets. The same is true for the media and entertainment industries. Time Warner, for example, has huge potential markets for their content in countries like China-- where more people speak English than in the United States.

Information and internet technologies drove a lot of job growth in the 1990s, and their successes have helped make a lot of jobs redundant in the past decade.  I think there is the potential, in the coming decade, for the high-tech sectors to again be major drivers of job growth. To maximize this potential, greater worldwide protection of intellectual property rights and the preservation of the global free flow of information are important objectives for our government.

For more on this, check out the remarks of Anita Ramasastry, Senior Policy Advisor at the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, at an event we hosted last week.

Recap: Advancing the Global Free Flow of Information

Earlier this week, we hosted a great conversation here at NDN on internet freedom and the global free flow of information. We heard from Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs at Freedom House, and Anita Ramasastry of the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

At Commerce, Ms. Ramasastry is also co-chair of the "Free Flow of Information on the Internet" working group in the Internet Policy Task Force. She spoke about the work of the IPTF, which has consisted of beginning to look at how censorship and restrictions on the free flow of information may impact trade, investment or economic growth. The Free Flow of Information working group has begun to meet with a number of stakeholders to determine the economic impact of restrictions and censorship, and is planning to publish a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that will formally reqeust input from stakeholders to determine what restrictions exist, where they exist, and what burden they impose on business. 

Mr. Calingaert opened his talk by asserting that the internet offers great potential to advance human freedom, but is under assault from authoritarian governments.  He observed that many the most restrictive regimes in the world had become a great deal more technologically sophisticated in their censorship, contributing to five years of decline in freedom. He offered four major policy efforts that need to be pursued to promote internet freedom: First, a strengthening of the international consensus around internet freedom and bringing together stakeholders with a commitment to these issues. Second, to stop western companies from abetting internet censorship and surveillance. Third, empowering netizens and giving them a voice to fight against restrictive practices. Fourth, restrictions on the free flow of information need to be challenged diplomatically and multilaterally.

But don't take my word for it... The full video, including the feisty Q&A session, is here (the sound is a little low, so you may have to crank the volume):

This Week in Global Mobile | July 23, 2010

At times its difficult to keep pace with all the latest global mobile developments. I hope this selection of news stories from the past week will help you navigate the ever-growing global network of connectivity:

  • On Tuesday Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) released a draft [PDF] of his digital consumer privacy bill, called the Best Practices Act. Meanwhile, Senator John Rockerfeller (D-WV) announced plans to introduce a Wireless Innovation Act, which moves forward the FCC’s plan to auction off spectrum.
  • A Jordanian student was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment over an Instant Message to a friend which “insulted the supreme entities” of the country.
  • MobileActive takes a look at whether content producers should be swinging towards mobile apps or the mobile Web in this article.
  • A new report by Pyramid Research indicates that broadband users in Africa will increase from 40 million in 2009 to 92 million in 2015, bringing penetration from 3.2% to 6.8%.
  • Check out this Washington Post editorial which praises the State Department’s steps to foster Internet Freedom as part of its diplomatic strategy.
  • To circumvent Vietnam’s Facebook ban, the Vietnam Reform Party has uploaded to its website directions to access Facebook through Google.
  • In a week when BCC and CNN International made splashes for introducing apps to the iPhone and iPad, Juniper Research released a study estimating that 25 billion mobile applications will be downloaded by 2015, compared to 2.6 billion in 2009.
  • The Wall Street Journal blogs about the growing role of mobile phones in delivering aid to Africa.
  • Over the weekend, thousands of Turks marched in Istanbul to protest Law Number 5651, which provides the basic infrastructure for the government’s Internet censorship policy.
  • Don’t miss tech guru Ethan Zuckerman’s review of the proceedings at e-Nigeria, an ICT symposium which took place earlier this week.
  • The government of China announced its intentions to deanonymize certain areas of the Internet, further buffering its “Great Firewall.”

The Global University Campus

On Wednesday I attended the 2010 IGF-USA conference at the Georgetown Law Center. In this second annual U.S. edition of the Internet Governance Forum, a couple hundred Web citizens, industry folk, and government representatives gathered to share their perspectives on the current state of the Internet and the visions they hold for the future of the global Web. I’ll blog later about a great discussion which took place regarding user education of cyber-crime, but for now I’m going to focus on the stand-out speech of the event:

Pablo Molina, a graduate professor in technology management at Georgetown University, kicked off the day with a terrific lecture discussing how the Internet has transformed university education. As a professor and the university’s chief information officer, he described how the 21st-century classroom has shifted focus from the blackboard to the laptop:

Colleges and universities react to globalization by engaging in international initiatives. We import students and faculty from other parts of the world to our home campuses. We open campuses in other countries. We engage in distance learning. Information and communication technologies and the Internet are critical to support our academic mission... You will not find [university students] in classrooms taking notes while somebody scribbles on a blackboard. Instead, you will find them hanging out around online lectures, social networks, and digital libraries.

The digital transformation has arrived, at least in many colleges in the United States. To paraphrase Molina: “Today, the university with the largest student body in the U.S. has over 200,000 full-time equivalent students. Its name: University of Phoenix Online.” He adds that twenty percent of college students in the country are taking a course online. As a current university student, I’d estimate that at least 85% of my course readings are only available via the Web, and I can’t remember the last time my professor didn’t e-mail important information to students at least once during the course.

But the age of the “global university campus,” as Professor Molina called it, clearly has world-wide reach beyond America’s borders. Traditional universities such as Georgetown have entered the digital age (which is saying a lot, I might add - I’m a student there, and we didn’t have Internet access in our campus library until last year), remotely connecting international students from campuses in Washington to London and Qatar with web conferences and video chats. And while the Icelandic volcano eruption brought an entire continent to a standstill, says Professor Molina, it still couldn’t stop his international students from sitting in on lectures via Skype.

In emerging nations, university Web education is slowly taking a foothold. Just a few weeks ago, the University of Nairobi launched its tech-savvy Open Distance and E-Learning Center, which provides high-speed Web access and infrastructural support to the new African Virtual University. The facility gives students and administrators the opportunity to connect with courses, curricula, and students of other universities to share information.

Last year I saw first-hand the gradual integration of the Internet into the classroom when I studied at the University of Buenos Aires, South America’s largest university. For the first time in one of my course’s thirty-year history, the class documents were published online, saving valuable time and money for the numerous students attending from provinces across the country. In an aging, overcrowded, underfunded, and poorly managed university system of over 300,000 students, witnessing the Internet being adopted into curriculum was truly a remarkable sight.

Internet access is developing into a critical part of the university nervous system around the world. But Professor Molina reminds us of the dangers this transition may introduce. As Internet access becomes a prerequisite to learning, the effect of the digital divide could be magnified, which is why Molina made a clear call for advocating for an open, free, and secure Web:

To pursue our academic mission, to close the digital divide, and to bring education to all, we dream about an affordable, reliable, pervasive Internet that citizens worldwide can access... We dream about a strong privacy and information security framework to protect academic freedom and to fuel academic discourse.

In places where Internet access isn’t as readily available, mobile phones are filling the void to help close the digital divide and bring the power of digital education to the developing world. In South Africa, Nokia has teamed up with MXit, a free mobile social networking platform, to connect struggling math students with their school district for access to tutoring and curricula. The project has grown from fewer than 300 to  3,000 “eLearners” and is expanding to two more provinces in South Africa. In Australia, scientists have developed a reliable mobile-to-mobile communication technology which could allow distance learners to share articles, homework, and test questions with each other in areas with weak or no signal.

Initiatives such as these are terrific showcases of mobile education, but they also reveal the long road ahead for mobile phones in university learning. The ability of computer-based Internet access to bring multimedia presentations, scholarly articles, and other academic resources to students makes clear the large strides mobile phones must make before they can realistically be implemented in a digital university setting.

Listening to Molina speak at IGF-USA, it was easy to imagine the myriad ways the Internet and new technologies can improve education. The hard part, however, is ensuring that the Web is accessible to the citizens of developing countries who have the most to gain from these powerful tools -- and the most to lose from missing out.

Global Information Freedom: A Primer

I hope you'll be able to make it to our event tomorrow on practical approaches to internet freedom and the global free flow of information.  Should be an interesting talk.  You can RSVP here.  If you can't make it, tune in for the webcast here, which gets rolling at 12:15 pm EDT.

Below, I've pulled together some of our past work on internet & information freedom. Enjoy:

Phony Democracy and the Internet's Influence 7/6/10 by Sam duPont

Pakistan Quashing Net Freedoms, Citizens Speaking Out 5/20/10 by Sam duPont

Alec Ross on How the Internet Will Shape Open and Closed Societies 4/13/10 by Sam duPont

The Practical Questions of Internet Freedom 2/23/10 by Sam duPont

China's Censorship and Information Freedom 1/26/10 by Sam duPont

Should Access to Mobile Networks be a Universal Right? 12/21/09: by Simon Rosenberg

Twitter, Iran, and More: Impressions from the Front Lines of the Global Media Revolution 7/15/09: with Nico Pitney, Eric Jaye, and Theo Yedinsky

Harnessing the Mobile Revolution 10/8/08: By Tom Kalil

A Laptop in Every Backpack 05/01/07: By Alec Ross and Simon Rosenberg

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