This post was guest-written by Mustafa Naseem, an intern here in Verizon’s DC office and a student at the University of Colorado. Mustafa is pursuing a graduate degree in Information & Communications Technology for Development.
I’m a technologist, and much of the time, I take technology for granted. iPhones, Facebook and 3G/4G networks have been around long enough to feel like everyday parts of life. Occasionally, though, I realize how much technology in general - and mobile Internet access in particular - has changed my life. I’d like to take the opportunity to illustrate how much the technological advances of the last five to ten years have become indispensable to my life as a student and young professional.
I recently moved to Washington, and having a fast, always-on mobile connection helped me to settle into my new temporary home in numerous ways. For example, I was able search through rental listservs and use Google Maps and Yelp to find rentals in neighborhoods that provided a balance between affordability and desirable location. I’ve gotten some great home furnishings from nearby yard sales I saw on Craigslist. I am able to share pictures of my new place and my adventures in my new city with friends via Instagram. I keep in touch with old friends overseas using Viber, a free voice and messaging app with over 160 million users.
When I’ve been asked to guest-lecture for a university class on the other side of the globe in Lahore, Pakistan, I can use Skype on my 4G smartphone. While at work, I can walk to the nearby park and buy lunch from a food truck with my debit card, thanks to mobile payment operators like Square. I don’t have to spend my lunch hour waiting in line at the bank, because my bank lets me deposit checks using the camera on my phone.
These are just a few of many everyday examples of the conveniences provided by a robust mobile broadband network. There are also several specialized use cases that highlight how technology is impacting the lives of my family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and students. For example, iPhone’s avatar Siri is impacting the lives of people with disabilities such as the blind; updated weather information is helping farmers; and FDA-approved portable smartphone based ultrasound devices are helping to save lives in remote areas.
The possibilities that have arisen thanks to mobile broadband and more powerful consumer devices are nothing short of astounding. The potential of the Internet as a powerful economic engine starts to dawn on you when you realize that many of the economic opportunities we take for granted today (mobile merchant credit card processing, free international calling, the entire mobile apps ecosystem) didn’t even exist ten years ago. As every sector of the economy, from small entrepreneurs to health care and manufacturing, is incorporating new communications tools into their businesses, it’s clear that a revolution in communication is well underway.