After reading "Wireless Communication and Global Development: New Issues, New Strategies", I decided to see what's going on now with some of the services being implemented earlier this decade.
This is a blog entry on the apparently coming demise of Little Smart:
Shutting Down Little Smart
In her interesting new book, From Iron Fist to Invisible Hand: the Uneven Path of Telecommunications Reform in China, Irene S. Wu describes competition among bureaucracies, consumer demand, and technological innovations as drivers of telecommunications reform in China. An interesting case study is Little Smart, a low-cost, limited-mobility wireless service that rapidly gained popularity, but which will be shut down by 2011 in favor of 3G services.
Little Smart provided a vehicle for China Telecom to offer wireless service. Little Smart was initially approved to extend China Telecom's wireline telephone service to rural areas. However, Little Smart was first offered commercially in December, 1998, in Zhaoqing, a small city in Guangdong Province. In 1999, Little Smart service was extended to two provincial capitals and other small cities. By September, 2001, Little Smart was being offered in 300 cities and had about 5 million subscribers. By early 2003, Little Smart was available in Beijing and other large Chinese cities. The number of Little Smart subscribers reached 91 million in 2006.
Efforts of mobile-service competitors and the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) to constrain Little Smart subscriber growth failed. Mobile-service competitors China Mobile and Unicom complained vociferously to state bodies that Little Smart was not authorized to provide the service it was providing. MII repeatedly forbade Little Smart to expand service, but it did anyway. MII subsequently ratified Little Smart expansions. Little Smart succeeded in gaining state approval by first succeeding in gaining a large number of customers.
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