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< Contents ERCIM News No. 59, October 2004
  the portable internet cover The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has just (September 2004) released the sixth book in its Internet Reports series entitled "The Portable Internet". The book examines the possible impact of high-speed wireless communication used together with portable terminals. The conclusion is that this combination could well be a "disruptive technology" with wide sweeping impact on global communication.
The book is nicely self contained with a glossary of terms included. This will be important for some readers when the myriad of available technologies is discussed in the second chapter.

The third chapter deals with market trends. Here, for example, it is interesting to see that while almost half of the world's broadband subscribers is already in the Asia-Pacific region, the potential here is enormous. Future broadband development is highly dependent on national policy and regulation, the subject of the fourth chapter. Case histories show dramatic results of deregulation. The impact that the portable Internet might have on the “digital divide” is covered in the fifth chapter. This is one of the world's largest problems but as the cost of the portable Internet decreases perhaps the enormous potential of the Internet can be realized in developing countries. Future market applications are covered in the next chapter. Existing applications in Korea let mobile telephone users pay for many items and services using their mobile telephone — examples are food and transportation. The last chapter looks at the potential impact on society and includes mention of the medical concerns that some people have for widespread wireless use.

There is an Annex at the end of the book which gives all kinds of statistical information for some 200 countries around the world. Penetration of the Internet, wide band access and mobile telephony, as well as costs, are covered. Such statistics could be rather dry but these are so interesting that it is easy to study them for quite some time. For example, the country with the highest broadband penetration is the Republic of Korea with somewhat more than 23%.

The book, over 200 pages, may be purchased via the ITU Web site: or or

Harry Rudin,
Consultant and Swiss Local Editor for ERCIM News