The Third World CyberCafe of the Near Future
SmartPhone handsets are shooting down in price � now US$ 160-00 buys you a fully functioning android 90mm touchscreen smartphone with wifi � the Orange San Francisco/ ZTE Blade is one such excellent device.
But the greedy Western and Third World MNPs (Mobile Network Providers) are a problem � they still regard data as a middle-class luxury, not a working-class and peasant-class necessity. Therefore although sometimes they offer data bundles on 24 month contracts at US$ 15 per Gigabyte (2 times the UK/Germany cost!), then they penalise the small and intermittent user and those without bank accounts and financial stability by charging US$ 140 � 420 per Gigabyte (these are Botswana rates, but they could be for any country in Africa or the whole Third World).
Meanwhile, those with an old-fashioned fixed telephone line and US$ 150 per month to spare can get a high-speed uncapped connection (they also need a bank account � yet once again)
There can be a synergy between these groups, which also addresses the problem of running a cybercaf� � the high cost of PC�s, networks etc and the space and security required.
Let the cybercaf� be simply a wifi hotspot and nothing more. The wifi will be protected by a normal WEP or similar key, which is changed every day or better every week. The users will use their own smartphones, and they will purchase the new key once per week. The key will be input by the cybercaf� operator, owner or manager � the user never gets to know the key and cannot access it. The user can have a smartphone or even a pc (the weekly cost for a pc will be higher than for a smartphone, since it gobbles more data and is less efficient). The cybercaf� does not even have to be a physical premises � users can hang out outside next to the cybercaf� wifi transmitter(s) � in the open or under shade. In fact the cybercaf� can become effectively a one-person kiosk with a phone line and an electricity line coming to it � nothing more�.
There will be no printing, until the advent (which is really soon if not already) of email-address printers, to which you can print by smartphone. There will be times of the week and/or day when the cybercaf� is manned � for taking money and entering keys, and for printing.
Of course if it is possible to crack the wifi key, then this model may not work, since people who have paid may crack the key and share with friends or commercial contacts who have not paid � those with knowledge of cracking and protecting wifi keys please contribute�.
Note here that if accessing a given amount of emails and web by smartphone takes 500 megabytes per month, then the same amount by PC will take a whopping 3 gigabytes � 6 times the volume. Therefore � with the prohibitive data charges mentioned above – even people with PC�s are well advised to perform most or even all of their internetting by their smartphone, and transferring files from pc to smartphone and vice versa�.
The economics � I would guess people will pay US$ 3 per week to get maybe 100 megabytes per week on their smartphones � they will use normal GPRS/Edge/3G for most of the time (with little traffic), and congregate round their cybercaf� in the evenings and/or when they have something data-intensive to do. 20 users will bring in US$ 270 per month which compares with the basic costs of $150/month, and can probably be classified as the breakeven number of users.
Smartphones are not quite yet all-pervasive, but it is coming � if not in 2011 then in 2012 � get ready for such a business!…..
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