Wednesday 24 February 2016

Mobile World Congress 2016 Highlights Global Internet Inequities

This year’s Mobile World Congress is already shaping up to be one event with two contrasting missions, serving as a reminder that the technology divide between rich and poor is alive and well.

Mobile World Congress, an annual Barcelona event which attracts nearly 100,000 individuals from all walks of the mobile industry, saw a significant shift in focus this year, as the improved smartphone that was once the hallmark of the event no longer captures the attention it previously did: in the developed world, smartphones are reaching a saturation point and in emerging economies they remain out of the price point of the average consumer. As such, while some are busy seeking the next big thing, others are still on the hunt for basic Internet access—and few are looking for a more expensive phone.

Carolina Milanesi of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech summarized the dominant perspective well: “Everyone has a smart phone now. So the sellers need to try to figure out what kind of new devices will get consumers reaching for their wallets and spending their money.” For those with the cell phone they want in their pockets, this year’s Mobile World Congress has been all about the future potential of virtual reality, 5G and even smart cars.

The alternate narrative at Mobile World Congress is one that continues to be championed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. As the social platform founder pointed out, “It’s amazing that one is sitting here in 2016 and there are still four billion people worldwide who do not have access to internet.” He took advantage of the opportunity to both announce his new Telecom Infra Project and to promote the better-known Free Basics. The former will create a space for companies to collaborate in order to expand telecommunications infrastructure, in turn accelerating the pace of innovation beyond what a traditional model would allow; already, the project has been able to bring connectivity to a Philippine village that was previously without. Zuckerberg further credited Free Basics with connecting more than 1 billion people in 36 countries to basic Internet services and was confident in the service’s future, despite a recent ban in India for violating net neutrality.

Yes, Facebook has made its mission to connect all the world, but Mobile World Congress made clear that it is not alone in this endeavor. For example, American company Obi Worldphone was also in attendance, celebrating the release of its $149 MV1 smartphone. Compatible with Android 5.1 Lollipop or Cyanogen OS, the relatively inexpensive phone hopes to accommodate emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

The disturbing trend that the first two days of Mobile World Congress only served to amplify is the reality that the developed world holds the rights to its own technological innovation as well as the innovation of others. American companies such as Facebook and Obi Worldphone claim to be part of a benevolent movement to bring equal access to all, but, as Mobile World Congress’s lack of interest in traditional mobile development makes clear, they are also part of an enterprising, entrepreneurial society desperately seeking the next big adventure. Emerging markets, take note., Mobile World Congress, Facebook, State of Connectivity 2015, SumRando Cybersecurity, Secure Messenger, VPN's State of Connectivity 2015 [Source:]

SumRando Cybersecurity is a South Africa-based VPN, Web Proxy and Secure Messenger provider. Surf secure and stay Rando!


  1. Nice work Obi. Obi Worldphone seems to be addressing a wider issue of equitable access to quality and designed technology products. Impresssed

  2. Good Job Brunner.. U r simply.. amazing what a thought!! U have made this smartphone of obi looks wow!!