With all the present interest in new ways of supplying Internet access using new platforms, ranging from low earth orbit satellites to drones or balloons, it might still be possible to argue that mobile operators could, if they chose, rapidly fill the internet access gap as they filled the voice communications gap, leaving only a little room for new providers.
It will take spectrum, money, will and some help from regulators (release spectrum, promote market entry, reduce the burden of taxes and fees, for example). But mobile operators revolutionized the communications once. They might do so, again.
Heavily populated nations in South and Southeast Asia include some nations where Internet usage is low. These include Indonesia, where only 24 percent of the population has access to the internet, India (20 percent), Bangladesh (11 percent) and Pakistan (eight percent). Combined, these countries account for approximately a quarter of the world’s population.
In Vietnam, 43 percent of people use the Internet at least somewhat regularly. In the Philippines some 42 percent use use the Internet.
Though historically, there has been a high degree of correlation between computer ownership and Internet usage, that trend is in eclipse.
About 24 percent of people in emerging and developing countries use Internet-capable smartphones.
But adoption is uneven. In Malaysia, 47 percent of mobile users own a smartphone. By way of contrast, 10 percent or fewer Bangladeshis or Pakistanis own smartphones. In China, 55 percent of mobile users own smartphones.
In Vietnam, 24 percent of mobile users own smartphones, in India 14 percent of mobile users own them. In Indonesia 15 percent of mobile users own smartphones, in Bangladesh just six percent.
In the Philippines, about 20 percent of mobile uses own smartphones. In Pakistan, smartphone ownership is about four percent, the Pew study found
But feature phone ownership is very common, with a median of 84 percent of people in emerging and developing nations owning some type of mobile phone.
While cell phone ownership has increased quite dramatically over the past decade, landline connections have remained relatively low. In China, about 26 percent of survey respondents reported having landline service.
In Malaysia, only 14 percent report having a landline connection. In Thailand, 12 percent claim to have a landline service, in Vietnam about 11 percent say they have landline service.
In India, about eight percent report having landline service. In the Philippines, about seven percent have a landline; in Indonesia five percent; in Pakistan three percent. Some one percent of Bangladeshi respondents said they had a landline.
Across 32 countries surveyed by Pew Research, a median of just 19 percent of respondents say they have a working landline connection in their home. In Bangladesh the percentage is one percent.