Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Little Smart

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.[1]

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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  1. How will 3G services affect rural users?

  2. I didn’t realize that impact that WiFi could have on an international community that is in a developmental stage. Building WiFi networks could essentially kill two birds with one stone because the community would have a standardized internet network as well as (with the advent of cell phones that can connect with WiFi) mobile telephony.

    While I was making my daily rounds around CNET, I came across an article about a Skype application that is being implemented for the iPhone. The application will allow users to call other Skype members without a computer. Connecting the information from this week’s article, I thought that this application may show a future trend of WiFi based telephony. While users in developing countries will most likely not have the money to buy an iPhone data plan, cellular companies could create basic cellphones that run only on Skype. This method would influence/strengthen the “connectivity” theory that is talked about 216.

    Here is a link to the article: