Cerf: Cell Phones To Drive Internet Growth

    February 20, 2007

There are about 5.5 billion people on the planet. Roughly 2.5 billion of them use cell phones.

Only 1.1 billion surf the Web.

So when Vinton G. Cerf, who currently serves as Google’s vice president, states that mobile phones will fuel the growth of the Internet, well . . . maybe we should believe him.

“The mobile phone has become an important factor in the Internet revolution,” said Cerf. “You will get those other 5.5 billion people only when affordability increases and the cost of communication goes down.”

Anil Penna reported on Cerf’s presentation, and wrote that he identified India and China as two of the countries that are most ripe for growth in Internet use (thanks mostly to the rapid growth of their populations).

And although India and China aren’t the world’s wealthiest nations, Cerf noted, according to Penna, that “handset manufacturers and mobile-phone companies are offering an array of Internet-enabled features and services . . . while dropping charges under the pressure of growing competition that will bring many of the new subscribers to the Internet.”

By referring back to a 2005 interview with Ubiquity, we can see that Cerf’s discourse on mobile phones isn’t something that he cooked up the night before – he’s long believed that they drive Internet use. We can also see what he believes will come as the “next step.”

“[A]s more and more of the mobile phones become Internet-enabled,” Cerf predicted, “eventually they will be sufficiently Internet-capable that the traditional telephone call will evaporate and be replaced by applications that make use of Voice-over-IP.”

Cerf is one of the founding fathers of the Internet, and spent several years working at MCI. His word is good enough for me.

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