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Over 2.5 Billion Cellular Connections Now Active 168

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the towers-and-towers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It appears that humankind has managed to spread cellular technology like a virus. About 2.5 billion cellular connections exist in the world today, according to an estimate from the GSM Association. It took 20 years to reach 1 billion connections, three years to reach 2 billion connections and the market is moving to reach its third billion in a period of just over two years. Not surprisingly, the countries with fastest growth are the 'emerging nations.'"
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Over 2.5 Billion Cellular Connections Now Active

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  • by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin@wick.gmail@com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:50AM (#16064674)
    Step 1: Steal Underpants
    Step 2: Re-sell w/ sewn-in camera cell phone
    Step 3: Profit!
    • so either the camera is sewn-in with the lens aiming into the underpants (in which case you might have trouble finding someone who wants to view your slideshow, but maybe add some hot grits for that niche appeal), or the camera is aiming outward and you get lots of pictures of the world from a Docker's commercial vantage point...
  • similar (Score:5, Funny)

    by thedogcow (694111) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:54AM (#16064684)
    I have a similar graph.... Y axis is number of "cell conditions" and the X axis is the level "Assholeivity in Public (theater, etc). " Yes, I think is a directly proportional relationship.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jkburges (991357)
      Actually, I think it might be exponential - since for each extra person talking on a phone, each individual feels the need to speak a bit louder, and hence total volume goes up exponentially.
    • Re:similar (Score:5, Funny)

      by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin@wick.gmail@com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:04AM (#16064703)
      Eh, I don't worry about the assholes w/ cell phones in theatres. I figure give it a few more years till they start with the brain cancer... *chuckles maniacally*
    • Funny how the anti-cell phone Luddites can be twice as rude as anyone with a cell phone and not even realize it.
      • Mind you, I am owner of two cell phones and so much tech gear that takes me 15 minutes to enter a bank branch. But I put them on vibracall when I'm at a restaurant or movie theater, and I go to the bathroom or outside to take a call -- IF it's imperative that I take the call. I own a cell phone for the last 15 years and NEVER anyone "sssh"'d me. So, excuse me if I see a guy my age taking a call during the best part of a movie "no, dear, I'm still at the movie, yes, I'll bring home some Chinese, how is your
        • by jamesh (87723)
          NEVER anyone "sssh"'d me

          Just this evening i was sssh'd by my 17 month old son who was trying to watch "The Goodies" when i got a phone call :)

          Can't remember being sssh'd before that though.
        • I own a cell phone for the last 15 years and NEVER anyone "sssh"'d me.
          So basicly you're 2m tall, muscular build, tatoo'ed arms, piercings. A general agressive look. Well I wouldn't "sssh" you either.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rikkards (98006)
      Something I never really noticed until lately and I need to rant. Mod me however you wish my karma can take it.
      When in hell did it become socially acceptable to receive a call at your table at a restaurant? Not McDonalds but a typical restaurant that actually has a dress code.
      Proper manners would dictate to excuse yourself from the table and take the call elsewhere rather than talking extremely loudly and then giving dirty looks at other patrons when you can't hear over other people talking.

      Sorry for the ra
      • I could do with less whiny little brat kids.

        Yes, your an infant. Now shut the hell up. /me Had several flights over the atlantic with asshat kids around me. Nothing like 8 hours of screaming to make your arrival all the more pleasant...

        Tom
    • by 70Bang (805280)

      There's my way to fix cell phones & pagers when making presentations, particularly larger audiences (the larger, the better):

      "Before I begin, I will forewarn you to silence your cell phones and pagers now. If we hear a familiar tone, you'll undoubtedly rush out of the room as though God is about to kill himself and you're the only one working the Suicide Hotline. When you return, you will come up on stage and sing your high school fight song or you *will* be escorted out of this room. If you're going
  • Some more facts: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tanveer1979 (530624) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:59AM (#16064691) Homepage Journal
    I spent a small amount of time in the US, and surprisingly the tarrif structure and the talk time etc., plans available in India are far better than in the US. In broadband access developed nations have lot of lead over developing ones, maybe because to have good connectivity you require undersea cables as most of the servers are in west, but in case of cellular connections countries like India are way ahead of the US/Europe, and very soon 3G deployment will be mainstream.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dread (3500)
      You can't compare the US cellular market to anything else. It is a quagmire. Compare India (with it's administrative circles, weird government regulations and crappy operators) with something in Europe instead. In fact, India is so far behind on the scale it isn't even funny.
    • by reporter (666905) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:37AM (#16064777) Homepage
      Metcalfe's Law [wikipedia.org] explains well why a cellular network grows rapidly. The value of a network grows as the square of the number of members of a network. Here, members are owners of cell phones. As the value increases, more people want to be part of the network. So, more people buy cell phones. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
      • which is a major reason it is so hard for the US to get it off the ground. Building a train between X and Y is not very worthwhile if X and Y do not connect anywhere.
      • Metcalfe's Law explains well why a cellular network grows rapidly.

        Not really, as you can dial into and out of the cellular network from/to an existing landline network.

        People buy mobile phones because they see value in them; whether that's witnessing first hand the usefulness of being able to be contacted (nearly) anywhere on the planet, or simply being seen to be important enough to have a mobile phone. The value isn't really brought from the network itself, though.

      • Bollocks (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EnglishTim (9662)
        That makes no sense at all. Huge numbers are already connected to the phone network via their landlines. The reason mobiles are so popular in emerging nations is that it's much cheaper to set up a cell in an area and sell people mobiles than it is to lay cable to everybody's house.
      • by thesandtiger (819476) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:56AM (#16065460)
        Not only is what you're saying not a fact, it's a complete misapplication of Metcalfe's idea.

        People who had a landline were already connected to the network - getting a cell gives no value from the viewpoint of giving access to the network.

        The primary reason cell use has spread so much - specifically in "emerging" nations - is because it is MUCH cheaper to set up a cellular system and spread access than it is to do with landlines.

        Another big reason would be the mix of convenience and quality of service. In my case, I ditched my landline 2 years ago because it was pointless. I like having a phone with me all the time. If I want to be unavailable, I can put it on silent mode. A phone that sits at home - a place where I spend maybe 4 waking hours a day - just seemed pointless. I don't think I'm the only person who thinks that way.

        My hope is that since cells are now virtually everywhere, people who used to feel the need to talk at the top of their lungs to let everyone know they had one will now see it as a sign of class to speak softly on them. I am doing my best to encourage people to do just that - when I am on the bus or train and someone is having a LOUD conversation on their phone, I will look at them raptly, and, if they ever fall silent, I will say "Oooh, what's he saying now?" When they inevitably say something along the lines of "this is a private conversation" I explain that, at the volume they were speaking, it was anything but. Of course, I say it with a great deal of charm, so I have yet to be bopped in the nose.
        • by Eccles (932)
          Part of the "talking at top of lungs" is due to the lack of feedback within many phones (i.e. the microphone is not echoed in the speaker). If the meatheads who build the things would just make it provide this feedback, people would probably be quieter.
      • Hmm. It seems to me that everyone in my family has owned at least a few mobiles so far. With upgrades, and boredom, and losses, it's not hard to figure out how there can be billions of cellphones when not everyone actually has a cellphone in the developed world, never mind the third world.
    • Re:Some more facts: (Score:5, Informative)

      by cannonfodda (557893) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:46AM (#16064801)
      I have had a pretty much similar experience with the U.S. network providers. Certainly in Europe the coverage is significantly better and the total cost of ownership of a phone seems a lot less than people are paying in the U.S.

      But it's not that surprising really. I've alwasy understood that the economics of the mobile network (feel free to shoot me down here since I'm relaying and might have got this wrong) are essentially controlled by population density. There is a point beyond which it becomes uneconomic to develop a digital cell network due to the limited range of the transmitters (about 11 miles nominal range the last time I looked).

      So it's not really surprising that the largest developments are in the developing countries and specifically Asia. There are large VERY densely populated urban centres which, until recently, had no cell coverage. So even selling call time at a low rate will mean that companies can recover their investment very quickly. So I would guess that the graph in the article will have to flatten out, or the emphasis will shift to different markets as the large urban areas in Asia and South America become saturated with providers in the same way as European cities are.

      In Europe after the inital rapid development of the urban networks the coverage of rural areas was very slow. Scotland was a prefect example. Over half the population of the country lives in a 50 mile strip along the central belt of the country. Fine. Great coverage. Go up to the highlands....and until recently it was a very different story. The landscape and low population density made it a costly investment to cover these areas. You would have to expect that the same thing will happen in these new markets. Explosive development in e.g Mumbai followed by a much, much slower growth over the country as a whole. I'd love to see a distribution map of this stuff.

      Anyway back to the original point. I've always understood that the reason why the service in the U.S. was rubbish was that, once the urban areas were well covered there was no real impetus to extend that to the gulfs between cities.

      • The other problem is this: where do you put masts in the middle of nowhere? The UK's national parks, such as the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, have *very* strict regulations about what can be built and unless your cell company can do something like get a mast put up in a church tower then there's not going to be any coverage.

        OTOH if you're going to be travelling through small town America, can't get to a landline and *must* stay in touch then satphones are a good investment.
        • by Don_dumb (927108)
          where do you put masts in the middle of nowhere
          That is what primary school paying fields are for.
        • by arivanov (12034)
          In the lake district you are hardly ever out of direct sight from at something that has been deemed to be sufficiently mouldy and smelly to be a listed building. In most cases it is a badly done fake imitation of a castle (Wray Castle is a prime example). Nearly universally it has nothing to do with castles, history or anything like this. It is a victorian villa build by some rich bastard from the neigbouring ex-industrial areas further south. Nearly all of these have antennas on top (once again the Vodafon
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by squiggleslash (241428)

        I have had a pretty much similar experience with the U.S. network providers. Certainly in Europe the coverage is significantly better and the total cost of ownership of a phone seems a lot less than people are paying in the U.S.

        I've heard this argument about it costing more in the US frequently, but in my experience it's a misrepresentation. I've compared them from time to time with UK tariffs, which may be artificially high, I'm not sure, and US cellphone tariffs are extremely attractive.

        The major di

      • You would have to expect that the same thing will happen in these new markets. Explosive development in e.g Mumbai followed by a much, much slower growth over the country as a whole. I'd love to see a distribution map of this stuff.
        they key difference in the new markets is that cellphones are coming from a different starting point.

        here in britan landlines are a regulated monopoly that can be obtained anywhere without spending insane sums of money.

        in the emerging markets the cellphones afaict have virtually
    • by pimpimpim (811140) on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:02AM (#16064838)
      Why are all the people lauding the european cell network here? I agree the quality is ok, but the pricing is ridiculous. Calling to a mobile phone can be up to 20 cent or more, say 20 times more than a normal phone call. Also, since there are so many small countries in europe, providers earn a shitload of money on 'roaming' costs, even when the same companies are present in almost all countries by now. It has nothing to do with actual costs anymore, but only with how much they can get away with to ask. The fact that there is 'competition' isn't helping much out here, as they silently make sure not to underbid their competitors too much.
      • Re:Some more facts: (Score:5, Informative)

        by Don_dumb (927108) on Friday September 08, 2006 @06:16AM (#16065003)
        Also, since there are so many small countries in europe, providers earn a shitload of money on 'roaming' costs
        That is why the EU is bringing in legislation to reduce roaming charges across the continent http://europa.eu.int/information_society/activitie s/roaming/roaming_regulation/index_en.htm [eu.int] and is (and has been) investigating the mobile companies for anti-competitive behaviour.

        Calling to a mobile phone can be up to 20 cent or more, say 20 times more than a normal phone call
        I never quite worked this one out myself, I think it has just been accepted without really questioning why. It is another reason why most of us (in the UK) have mobiles and text each other (although a simple text message can often turn into a big text conversation and end up being more expensive than just calling the person in the first place)
        • by mapkinase (958129)
          Calling to a mobile phone can be up to 20 cent or more, say 20 times more than a normal phone call
          What do you mean by that?
          Calling from what? Landline or mobile?
          Costing to whom? Caller or callee?
          Normal phone call is what? Landline to landline? Mobile to mobile?
          Note that I have very little experience with European day-to-day usage of mobile phones.
          • by pimpimpim (811140)
            These costs are for landline to mobile, and from prepaid mobile to mobile and for prepaid mobile to landline. I don't think there are many ways to lower the landline to mobile costs, as often mobile numbers are not or only in a limited way included in flatrate packages etc. So landline to mobile is almost always very expensive! Even when I use preselect numbers, it won't get under 10 cent per minute. Calling to US landline or mobile via preselect will cost me about 2 cents, without any difference for landli
      • Calling to a mobile phone can be up to 20 cent or more,

        You lucky bastard, whereever you are; In Ireland, ringing a Vofdafone customer from an O2 mobile during the day is 70cents (euro) a minute (that's about $1), and things don't get much cheaper during the evening, either. It's a fucking disgrace, but no-one seems to ever do anything about it.
      • by 10Ghz (453478)
        While roaming might be a "problem", in reality it's not THAT big of an issue. 98% of the time people stay in their own countries. And at least in Finland the cost of calls is about 6-8 cents a minute. Less than half the 20 cents you quoted. And the service is usually loaded with all the features you could ever want (caller-ID, SMS, MMS, GPRS, conference-calls, voicemail etc. etc.) And the phones are unlocked and not crippled.

        Do Americans still pay for the calls they receive?
      • Not sure about the cell-vs-landline comparison, but European mobile prices sure seem cheap compared to US ones.

        Comparing per-minute costs is very misleading. For many users like myself, per-minute costs are almost irrelevant, because the monthly fees (or expired unused minutes in the case of prepaid) dominate. When you take all costs into account, European prices are _WAY_ lower, even though the European per-minute domestic airtime prices are much higher than their US counterparts. At least for my usage
        • by pimpimpim (811140)
          For frequent callers, the EU might be cheaper, I don't know that much about the US system and are not a frequent caller anyway. My post was written as a prepaid user, so that might indeed change the picture.

          As for lifetime of the prepaid shelf-live, in holland there are eternal prepaid plans, your money can stay valid for as long as your phone is still in use. If it's not used (e.g. recieved a call) for a year or so they cut if off of course, but anyway else your money will stay valid. Very nice.

          As for

          • > For frequent callers, the EU might be cheaper,

            That I'm not sure of. But for _infrequent_ callers, the EU is _definitely_ cheaper than the US. I know that because I'm an infrequent caller in both. In the UK, anyway, you can still buy a prepaid card with reasonably long shelf-life and use the minutes only when you need them. (In the US, that's impossible. You have to keep paying to keep the phone alive regardless of whether you chose a prepaid or monthly plan). Of course, I may be overgeneralizing
            • by pimpimpim (811140)
              Sorry for the late reaction. I encountered this 'rule' for all prepaid phones at a Mediamarkt, the most popular electronics discounter in Germany. According to this german blog [blogspot.com] it is only in the contract of one of the network providers, E-plus (either the "Personalausweis" you have as a german citizen, or for foreigners a "Reisepass mit Meldebescheinigung", meaning that they have to show to be living in germany). Maybe it was a single action of (that) Mediamarkt, and you can still buy prepaid with your pass
    • by cygnusx (193092) *
      Since you make it sound as if India is communications nirvana, I'll introduce a few elements of reality into the picture...

      I spent a small amount of time in the US, and surprisingly the tarrif structure and the talk time etc., plans available in India are far better than in the US ... in case of cellular connections countries like India are way ahead of the US/Europe, and very soon 3G deployment will be mainstream

      You know, you really shouldn't lump Europe with the US in terms of mobile penetration. Accordin
  • by lostngone (855272)
    The cell providers are laughing all the way to the bank(at least in the US). With all this business why are the cell networks in the US so poor.
    • by jcr (53032)
      With all this business why are the cell networks in the US so poor.

      There is a disadvantage to early adoption in many cases. US services have a lot of cell network infrastructure from previous generations of cellular technology, and many, many customers who aren't going to ditch their existing phones for something up-to-date overnight.

      -jcr
  • by c0d3r (156687) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:04AM (#16064704) Homepage Journal
    How can this be if there aren't enough digits in a US phone number:

    1,23-4,56-7,890

    allows ~1.2445679 digits (some rounding error)

    What do class 5 switches allow globally and whats the denomination?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wfberg (24378)
      How can this be if there aren't enough digits in a US phone number

      Because it's a US phone number, and the article is about other, forrin countries as well.

      (MS)ISDN E.164 numbers are 15 digits, including the country code. Even the North American Numbering Plan can be expanded vastly, from 11 digits (the one counts!) to 15; a factor 10,000.
    • by Don_dumb (927108) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:31AM (#16064755)
      Ladies and gentlemen, the stereotypical American.
      Pity him he doesn't know there is a whole world out there.
    • by Tim C (15259)
      Please tell me you don't seriously think that there are 2.5billion mobiles in the US alone. You do realise that that's almost enough for half the planet's population, or about 10 for every single person in the US, right?
    • the US isn't the whole world you know!

      global telephone numbers can be up to 15 digits (plus any prefix to dial out of the country you are calling from) and can't start with 0, that makes a possibility of 900,000,000,000,000 telephone numbers.

      however in reality most numbers are shorter than this, e.g. a british number in international form is 2 digit country 10 digit (usually) national significant number. for 12 digits total.

      the bottom line is some countries may need to renumber thier domestic plans to longe
  • by mgblst (80109) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:14AM (#16064722) Homepage
    You could say it took millions of year to reach 1 billion connections, since hasn't all of mans endeavours, from fire and the wheel to radio and transistors been moving towards creating mobile phones? Depends on how you look at it.
  • Emerging nations? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Forge (2456) <kevinforge AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:21AM (#16064738) Homepage Journal
    Right now I'm working for one of the "culprits" in this phenomenal growth. Digicel [digicelgroup.com] allegedly sold 300,000 phones in it's 1st month of operations in Haiti. If you check the CIA Factbook [cia.gov], it basically says this is the worst run country in the western hemisphere. I have been here for 3 months now and I can say it's the worst I have seen.

    Despite that, Somebody sold 300,000 phones in a month. How? Because a prepaid cellphone with free incoming calls is exactly what you need when you are impoverished. Looking for work? Put the number on your resume. Family members in a developed country? Give them the number so they can call you and you can ask for remittances.

    Seriously. That's why it makes sense to sell a U$75 phone for U$25 to someone who had to save for weeks to pay that price.

    So yeah. A nation doesn't even have to be emerging for Cellphones to take off. It could be a textbook case of "How to, not develop".

    PS: Another sign of underdevelopment is when you must import almost your entire technical staff.
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      It could be a textbook case of "How to, not develop".

      This is complete non sequitur. How does it follow from what you have said? It helps people... Besides, people WILL HAVE to make calls some times. Consider two situations:

      1. Maurice does not have a cell phone. He is in a desperate situation that will certainly benefit from calling someone. He does not call
      2. Maurice has a cell phone. He is in the same situation. He calls.
      3. ???
      4. Profit.

      Try also to think out of "phone industry of Haiti" you work for as an

  • by ttys00 (235472) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:33AM (#16064762)
    Part of the reason mobile phone ownership growing so fast in 3rd world countries is the lack of infrastructure - large expanses of 3rd world countries have no phone lines at all, and a mobile phone is a cheap and easy way to communicate in any language, especially when using recycled handsets from 1st world countries.

    A small village can share a handset, which both facilitates trade and also obtains the best prices for their vegetables in the markets in the surrounding town.

    Also, greater population density in many 3rd world countries allows for more phones per base station (ie. greater economies of scale), and therefore cheaper plans. You'd be surprised at how hard telcos in India and China compete for customers, something telcos in the US have managed to avoid for many years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)
      Part of the reason mobile phone ownership growing so fast in 3rd world countries is the lack of infrastructure

      About ten years ago I was shown a factory here in Melbourne where analog cellular phones were being built into bulky units for sale in Chile. The idea is that it is cheaper to put a cellular phone in every house and a base station every 10km or so, than to trench all the way to every house.

  • by Sting_TVT (959719) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:34AM (#16064766) Journal
    Leave a phone on a cafe table..... See it on CNN three days later in Mogadishu
  • by ravee (201020) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:38AM (#16064781) Homepage Journal
    I agree wholeheartedly with the article. In India for instance, Now a days where ever you look, you can see people with a cellphone glued to their ear. News channels provide SMS (Short Messaging Service) numbers where the viewers can send messages via their cellphones. And the cellular service doesn't come cheap. It is atleast twice as costly as making calls via landline though deals are available dime a dozen. Sometimes I wonder if all this is really a good thing.

    Somebody should do a detailed study of the negetive effects of using a cellphone.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:39AM (#16064782) Homepage
    There have been a series or articles in the last few years in the Economist [economist.com] about how having mobile phones helps to lift people out of poverty in the developing world. Their view, and I have to say I agree, is that its more important to get people a communication network (mobile phones) than it is to get them a computer.

    Its a genuinely good thing that this is taking off in the developing world to help people create small businesses and to reduce barriers.
    • What a shock a prominent business publication advocates introducing mobile phone networks to developing countries, of course it's for their own good.
    • Their view, and I have to say I agree, is that its more important to get people a communication network (mobile phones) than it is to get them a computer.

      The best thing is that the cell phone can double as a (simple) computer. Address books, games, calculators; essentially all the technological benefits of living in a first world economy despite the poor economy. My guess is that the trend will only speed up, and at the far end third world countries will be getting nano-assemblers the same time (or befor
    • by mapkinase (958129)
      Does anyone else see a problem with the picture in that reference? The format of the chart is quite unfortunate, because one has still to look at the distance between mindsteps on this chart not, say, to the form of the curve. And the fact that several systems are displayed at the same time blurs the picture even more. It is clear from comparison with the chart where mindsteps are generated using a square law. Try it yourself.
  • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:51AM (#16064950) Homepage
    is it's super-low up-front costs, not for the hand-sets, but for an operator to offer initial coverage.

    With wired service, you have to invest up-front, burying cable throughout a population center before you can acquire your first customer. With wireless, you put up one tower, set it for maximum range, and open shop.

    A single WiMax tower can reach 40 miles in radius. After Katrina, Intel donated $5M in hardware, and was basically able to cover the Gulf Coast. Bell South says they'll needs between $700M and $900M, and they're still not done with repairs. That cost might be fair, but it shows the advantages in bringing in wireless cheaply. Here's an Intel link:

    http://www.intel.com/technology/magazine/communica tions/hurricane-relief-1105.htm [intel.com]

    I think we should be using cheap wireless technology for IP based emergency communications, enabling people to help each other so they wont have to wait for FEMA to arrive. Check out what hams do for free:

    http://eng.usna.navy.mil/~bruninga/aprs.html [navy.mil]

    A system built on the Internet model might enable neighbors to help each other, which is basically required after a mass disaster, since any emergency response team will be overwhelmed. Do you know how you'd find your neighbors after a disaster? How would they find you?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Calinous (985536)
      Intel was able to invest 5M and offer coverage to the Gulf Coast. BellSouth will invest $700M (or $1B) and get coverage, offering a total bandwidth maybe 2 000 times more than Intel could offer with their $5M. It's all in what you want - if what you want is minimal access, those $5M goes a long way - if you want something more bandwidth intensive, you're out of luck
    • A system built on the Internet model might enable neighbors to help each other, which is basically required after a mass disaster, since any emergency response team will be overwhelmed. Do you know how you'd find your neighbors after a disaster? How would they find you?

      By rights GSM phones should be able to work as point to point communicators over short ranges. In a disaster this would help, both when the cell goes down, and when the network is overloaded.

      Unfortunately there is no way for the network ope

  • it is not surprising - emerging nations have people without mobile phones
    developing nations are saturated with some having more than 100% penetration

    after everybody has mobile phones, let see where they will see growth. probably aliens?
    • by vidarh (309115)
      It's not only that. Cellphone usage in countries like Nigeria is growing far faster than in a rich but low usage country like the US simply because in Nigeria as in many other developing countries it is hard and expensive to get landlines, and the landline services are unreliable.

      The reason landlines are cheap in industrialised countries is because the telcos have had a hundred years to amortise the cost of laying down copper lines, whereas countries like Nigeria have a very underdeveloped network of phon

  • With that many cellular connections and users, you would think that by now we would have some solid data as to whether they cause the purported issues with irradiation and cancer that people would have you believe, and yet we have no evidence to support the idea that cellular phones have any carcinogenic properties.

    Two possibilities come to mind;
    • Studies simply aren't being performed on this topic (which I doubt, as there are many groups out there who would love to be able to link something this widely u
    • There really is no danger of getting cancer from using a cellular (more likely, as with over a billion connections, we have yet to hear of anyone who actually got cancer and died due to phone usage)

      A phone might deliver a couple of watts of microwave radiation, but go up the spectrum to higher energy and we bathe ourselves in kilowatts of infrared all the time. If microwaves caused cancer what should radiated heat do to you?

      We know that the worst you can get from IR is dry and possibly dead skin. No mutat

      • by swv3752 (187722)
        IR gets stopped by our skin. Microwaves penetrate to our internal organs. Ever seen a potatoe explode in a Microwave oven?
    • tbh we will probablly never really know, we know that if they have any affect it is rare and/or only built up after long term usage.

      and its difficult to study because
      1: most people won't itemise thier cell use for a researcher (even if they could) and the cell companies are hardly going to hand the info over.
      2: controlling for other factors would be a bitch given that cellphone usage tends to go with social status.

      With stats you can prove to a certain degree of confidence that its less than a certain level
      • by NexFlamma (919608)
        Agreed. So, given those points, you have to conclude that either there is no lasting effect or that it is so difficult to quantify as to be virtually neglible for any real person.
  • Take the number with a very large pinch of salt. Even accounting for multiple cell phone owning road warriars, the number 2.5 billion connection seems too large. I suspect GSM assoc is counting every SIM cards that were manufactured as a "connection". It must be including all the expired accounts, expired prepaid cards etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by arachnoprobe (945081)
      Connections means "calls", not "phones".
      • You mean there were 2.5 billion cell phone calls last year? That number is too small [*]. 2.5 billion active cell phones all over the world, seems to be a high number. 2.5 billion cell phone calls per year seems to be a low number. Hope someone has the time, energy and the inclination to dig the definition of the GSM Assoc's "connections" and the correctness of the numbers reported.

        [*] Quick estimate: {1 in 4 in USA+Europe+Aus+NZ with cell phone & 1 in 10 in India+China with cell phone} = 450 milli

        • by vidarh (309115)
          Or you could see the CIA world factbook [cia.gov], which shows that your estimate is ridiculously far off. Note that while the CIA world factbook lists ca. 1.7billion cellphones, a lot of the numbers are from 2004 and 2003.

          Even in the US the coverage is more than 50%, and in many European countries it's close to 100%. There are actually at least a couple of countries with more than one cellphone subscription per person (I think Finland and either Taiwan or South Korea, but I may be mistaken).

  • Please do not call cellular technology "viral". Everyone knows that this word is only chosen for its negative connotation. Real viruses can spread accidentally, while a voluntary act is required to make a cell connection. It's such an old, often repeated [slashdot.org] argument [slashdot.org] that it is a wonder that people still fail to understand it!
  • Moo (Score:2, Troll)

    by Chacham (981) *
    It took 20 years to reach 1 billion connections, three years to reach 2 billion connections

    Wow, they hit two billion even before they hit one billion. Now that's fast.
    • by GweeDo (127172)
      Isn't it obvious that they meant it took 20 years to hit 1 million, then three years after that to hit 2?
      • by Chacham (981) *
        Sort of. But that is no excuse for missing words like "another".

        And, the other meaning is that they got better and restarted fresh the second time to do it faster the secodn time, as in "he ran one mile on thirty minutes, and then two miles in twenty minutes", which is taken to mean that he has gotten considerably better.
  • I work at a mobile content company making music ringtones, video ringtones, and wallpapers. I don't own a cell phone and have never owned a cell phone. I don't even know how to work one. That all may change this weekend because I think I'm going to go buy one, so make it 2,500,000,001 mobile connections.
  • "It appears that humankind has managed to spread cellular technology like a virus..."

    Wrong. Despite propaganda about lifestyle choices, and despite the perceived indispensibility of cell phones, there is a voluntary component to cell phone use that simply does not reflect the reality of disease organism propagation. Sloppy metaphors result from sloppy thinking, and you don't want to get any of that on you.

    Cellular technology has spread like a religion.

  • How many neural connections are there in a brain? More than a couple billion, but that never stopped Hollywood before...

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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