March 3, 2013

Nokia And Bharti Eye Next Billion Internet Connections


The next billion people to be connected to the Internet will come from the developing markets and through mobile routes, agreed keynote speakers at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, but a number of challenges will first need to be overcome, with device and service affordability at the top of the list.
As well as citing aspects such as cheaper network infrastructure and the use of frequencies such as 700 and 900 MHz that support mobile network coverage over longer distances, Manoj Kohli, CEO and joint MD of Bharti Airtel, called on device manufacturers to provide $10 price points for mobile broadband dongles and $30 price points for smartphones.
“These are our targets,” said Kohli. “People in the developing world are going straight to the mobile Internet.”
Nokia RedifinedEarlier this week, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop revealed a new range of feature phones at lower price points and targeted at developing markets. During his Tuesday keynote, Elop reiterated that these mobile phones would be used to broaden the target market beyond the high-end Lumia smartphones, and emphasised that such devices are also very much about connecting the next billion even though they are not “smartphones”.
“We aspire to have people go up through the range of products, but this is not always possible,” he conceded.
Elop said the challenges facing Nokia are to enable even basic feature phones to access content, while helping people in developing markets to discover and enjoy this content. “The next billion will be very young and very ambitious,” added Elop. “They want and expect a great service.”
Nokia’s efforts to resolve these challenges include a built-in, cloud-based browser, the Nokia Xpress Browser, which saves on data consumption through compression. The Nokia 301 also has exemplary battery power: Elop cited a standby period of 39 days. Other strategies include supporting content developers in local markets; installing smartphone features on lower end phones such as high-end imaging; and improving discovery capabilities with apps such as Nokia Nearby.
“Smartphones are sometimes very liberal with data,” added Elop, who noted that this is more of a concern in the developing than in the developed world.

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