The Mobile Minute: Explaining Egypt's Internet Blackout, Bad News for M-Banking Retention, and the Rise of Android

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 07, 2011

Today's Mobile Minute brings you coverage on how the Egyptian government shut down the country's Internet and mobile services, work-arounds for communicating during a government-ordered Internet blackout, problems with keeping customers engaged in mobile banking and payment services, Android's new place as the top-selling mobile operating system in the world, and a prediction for huge increases in mobile data traffic by 2015.

  • In the aftermath of the Egyptian telecommunications blackout, ArsTechnica looked at both how the Egyptian government managed to limit the country's communications so effectively (mainly through ordering major ISPs and Telcos to shut off service) and if a government-mandated Internet/mobile lockdown could be recreated in other countries. In related news, has created a wiki on how to communicate if the government limits/shuts down Internet access.
  • Vodafone announced that the Egyptian government invoked emergency powers and forced it and the other telcom providers in Egypt to send pro-government text messages to Egyptian subscribers. In a press release, Vodafone claims that the messages were not scripted by Vodafone, and that although they protested the government's involvement, they "do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content." Since then, a much-nedeed debate has begun on the responsibility of telcoms to resist this interference.
  • CGAP breaks down why the high enrollment numbers touted by some mobile banking and mobile payment services might not be entirely accurate: inactive customers. They report, "In a recent CGAP survey, 64% of mobile money managers indicated that less than 30% of their registered users are active, and active rates of less than 10% are not uncommon." Although there may be a large number of initial subscribers, regular customers are much rarer; CGAP examines why this drop off might occur and what it means for branchless banks. 
  • According to British research firm Canalys, Android has overtaken Symbian as the most popular worldwide mobile operating system. However, the estimate is based on 2010's handset shipments, so although Android shipped more handsets than any other OS vendor in 2010, Nokia's Symbian platform still has the largest overall market share of any platform due to their high sales in previous years. 
  • Read Write Web, reporting on a new study from Cisco, claims that "worldwide mobile data traffic is due to increase 26-fold to 75 exabytes annually." Most of this increase is expected to come from mobile video traffic, which is estimated to account for 66% of mobile data traffic by 2015.

[Mobile Minute Disclaimer: The Mobile Minute is a quick round-up of interesting stories that have come across our RSS and Twitter feeds to keep you informed of the rapid pace of innovation. Read them and enjoy them, but know that we have not deeply investigated these news items. For more in-depth information about the ever-growing field of mobile tech for social change, check out our blog postswhite papers and researchhow-tos, and case studies.]

Image courtesy Flickr user QiFei

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