A question of priorities

Published: April 16th, 2010
Mobile telephony is critical in the developing world. The infrastructure is cheaper and easier to deploy. It can connect far-flung rural areas with urban seats of government and services.
Occasionally, though, one wonders if we're puting the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse.
Case in point: U.K. tech Website The Register reports a United Nations University study tells us that while almost half of India's 1.2 million population has a mobile phone, more than two-thirds do not have a toilet.
Part of the reason may be that while a toilet costs about $300 to build, cell phones are practically free because of subsidization by the wireless companies.
Can the same rationale not be used to bring down the cost of plumbing? “We'll give you a bog for free; just sign this contract to use our pipes for three years.” Isn't that exactly what the phone companies are doing?

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