Tech companies are eyeing a huge new market: The next billion customers coming online for the first time by 2022, mainly in India, China, Indonesia, parts of Africa and other developing regions.
Falling costs and improving technology are making it possible. Low-cost smartphones, running $100 or less, make mobile broadband far more accessible to consumers with little income. Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei, Xiaomi and ZTE are flooding the market with cheap but capable handsets, almost all of them running Google’s Android operating system. Plus, steady advances in wireless radio antennas and other telecom equipment make it cheaper and easier to build mobile networks with faster speeds, more coverage and lower data prices.
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