Mobile phones may yet improve education

I’ve quoted Berthold Weidmann on students using mobile phones to access lessons before, and will doubtless do so again, because I’m intrigued by this largely-ignored scenario.

Now, this excellent overview from Reuters puts a little flesh on the bones. It explains why we’ve not got there already with 3G, and covers the technical choices that Europe now faces.

This introductory paragraph could not fail to set me thinking:

Third-generation mobile phone services are finally here after a mammoth effort that cost the industry at least $123 billion, but new systems that operate much faster already threaten to consign 3G to history.

$123 Bn!!! What could we have achieved if we’d decided that it was an economic imperative to invest an extra $123Bn into educating Europe’s children?

When you think about where that money actually went, you discover this need not be an idle daydream. Most of the cost was the operating licenses auctioned by governments across Europe. Our governments. Effectively, that $123Bn is a tax on phone calls that mobile users will be paying off for the next decade.

And what are taxes for? That’s right. Education.

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