Mobile phone technology turned 20 yesterday. On the 7 September 1987 15 phone firms signed an agreement to build mobile networks based on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM). I think it was probably mid nineties or so before we actually got one, but I remember people trying to talk on what looked like a brick.

The increased use of mobile technology shows no sign of slowing down and the market has always out-performed all predictions for it. When SMS messaging was first introduced, the phone companies couldn’t decide whether to charge for it! Unfortunately for us they did and all normal conversations with teenagers stopped forever.

One statistic from the BBC report on this is that globally 64% of mobile users are in emerging markets. This doesn’t surprise me, every second billboard in Dar es Salaam is for a mobile network. Up at Emau Hill, there was no piped water and no electricity, but there was a phone signal. All the young staff there had their own mobile phones – and I mean Tanzanian staff here, not English volunteers. I know there are a lot of projects ongoing in East Africa on using mobile technology for education and hopefully this will be a way forward.

A few more stats, there are more mobile connections than people, yep well I have two – one for home and one for work. It took 12 years for the first billion mobile connections to be made and only a further 30 months to make the second billion. Like the silicon chip which revolutionised computing this will continue to grow and become an even greater part of our everyday existence.

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