At least 87% of the world’s rural population has cell phone coverage

According to the ITU:

In 2003, only 23 per cent of rural populations in Africa were covered by a mobile cellular signal; this coverage had improved to 79 per cent by the end of 2012. Mobile cellular coverage in Asia nearly doubled from 45 per cent in 2003 to 87 per cent by the end of 2012. Even in Oceania where some of the most remote countries in the world are located, 84 per cent of rural populations were covered by a mobile cellular signal by the end of 2012, up from 60 per cent in 2003. [link]

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Boingboing on why your smartphone is a giant security liability

Every mobile phone runs two operating systems; the one you interact with (like Android or Ios), and the one that controls the radio hardware. This second OS is ancient, creaking, and wildly insecure. Security researcher Ralf-Philipp Weinmann of the University of Luxembourg presented work on reverse-engineering the most popular “baseband” OSes from Qualcomm and Infineon and the horrifying security vulnerabilities he found. Anyone operating a cellular base-station (you can buy ’em on Ebay or build them from open source hardware specs) can send a 73-byte message that lets them run raw code on the processor; can silently activate auto-answer, crash the device, brick devices, install rootkits, send SMSes to premium numbers, and more. [link]

The majority of cell phone connections are now in the developing world

Figures provided by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) show that people living in low-income regions are today the majority owners of mobile phones. In 2000, when there were 0.7 billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, 29 percent of subscriptions were from developing countries and 71 percent originated in high-income countries. Just over a decade later the scenario has been reversed as in 2011 the 5.9 billion mobile phone subscriptions were comprised of 77 percent from developing countries and only 23 percent from high-income countries. [link]

Swipe to unlock

Users swipe their screens to unlock their phones an average of 110 times a day… One-hundred-ten times a day already sounded high to me, but a separate study presented at the All Things D conference this year puts the average phone unlocking number at even higher — 150 times a day. And the averages are far from the high end. Some users checked their phones 900 times in a 12-hour period. [link]

Contra Louis CK, smartphones do not hinder childrens’ face to face social life

In an online survey he conducted in the summer of 2010 with Roy Pea, on the media habits of 8-to-12-year-old girls, Nass found no correlation between online and face-to-face communication. In other words, girls who spent lots of hours buried in their smartphones weren’t any less likely than their peers to hang out with friends in person—and girls who liked to go out in groups were no less inclined to text or send instant messages. According to the data, a kid can gorge on Facebook “junk food” and still get all the social nutrients she needs. [link]

Zimbabwe’s government blocks mass texting before July 31st election

With the clock ticking to the July 31 poll … web portal said it had noticed this week that its mass text messages were mysteriously getting lost. Its provider, Econet Wireless – Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone firm with 8 million subscribers out of a population of 13 million – declined to comment. However, a senior company source [said] “We have just been told we cannot be facilitating bulk SMSs during the elections, roughly for the next two or so weeks,” the source said. “Our understanding is that they will take our network down or cancel our license if there is any violation.” [link]