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The last decade has been a period of rapid technological developments in the wireless and mobile space. Unlike the networks built a decade ago, these technologies are now sufficiently advanced and versatile that they are capable of supporting multiple applications such as voice, data and broadcasting simultaneously on one single network. Less developed nations have the opportunity to use these modern technologies to leapfrog and not be bogged down by legacy equipment installed earlier. Equipment standardization has also helped create a critical mass of users and providers, which in turn drives down the cost of equipment, making communications much more affordable than before.
While the provision of basic voice services was the initial driver, future communication systems should also support access to the Internet to maximize their development potential. In such cases, care must be taken to overcome any language and literacy challenges so that the people who most need the tools can exploit them meaningfully.
Finally, telecommunications policymakers have a very important role to play. They should not expect the rules that served them well in the past decade to be still appropriate for the new era. New technologies call for new rules, in particular forward-looking rules that permit rather than hinder these new technologies and services to flourish for the betterment of their people.