Edited by Gerald R. Faulhaber, Gary Madden and Jeffrey Petchey
Chapter 10: Mobile Communications: Economic and Social Impact
Gerald R. Faulhaber INTRODUCTION The rapid growth of mobile phone1 ownership and usage is generally viewed somewhat negatively, at least in popular culture, in the United States (US) and most OECD countries. White collar workers bemoan that they are now tethered 24/7 to their jobs by their mobiles, drivers point with alarm to accidents caused by other drivers while talking on their mobiles, parents complain that their children spend much of their time (in school and at home) talking or texting on their mobiles, and many complain of loud talking by mobile users in public spaces such as streets, buses, trains and restaurants. In addition to the many TV and press stories detailing the social problems with mobile usage, there are Web sites devoted to stamping out mobiles (or at least teaching users good manners)2, and even the Vatican has weighed in, suggesting that mobile phones may be bad for the soul.3 With the prevalence of such negative attitudes, it is surprising that anyone actually buys and uses such devices. Yet, mobiles are the single most ubiquitous electronic technology the US has seen, and the single most ubiquitous technology the world has seen. Currently, there are over 4.1 billion active mobile devices, representing 61 per cent of the global population. Worldwide, the annual growth rate of mobile exceeds 20 per cent and shows no sign of flagging. No other technology is even close. This extraordinary market outcome suggests the benefits of mobile telephony must be very great indeed. This...
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