Broadband Urbanism

Keller Easterling

While telecommunication in Africa has recently been distinguished by deprivation, it is now often heralded for its explosive growth. A majority of the over five billion cell phones in the world are now in developing countries.

Broadband is written into the platforms of national governments and into the development goals of international organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations. Access to mobile telephony—what te World Bank has called “the world’s largest distribution platform”—is treated as a right, akin to the right to water or food. A swarm of telecoms from all over the world compete for market share in undeserved Africa. New entrepreneurs identify new multipliers and borrow crowd-sourcing techniques to penetrate the market, while resourceful populations develop tricks of their own to improvise uses for the technology.

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