W3C Workshop on Mobile Web for Developing Countries

Motorola India Private Ltd.

India Research Labs Position Paper

Vinay Avasthi
Principal Staff Engineer
Motorola India Research Labs
No. 66/1, Plot No. 5
Bagmane Tech Park
C. V. Raman Nagar Post
+91 (80) 26015361


Internet has grown tremendously in last few years to become a medium that is performing many functions. Developing countries can leverage the capabilities of the internet in enabling government transactions (e-Governance), market information, information related to employment availability, health information, disaster warning etc. Most of the developing countries find it a great challenge to deliver these services. Internet could be a great medium in delivering targeted content and services to its citizens.

Mobile Web

Most of developing countries have peculiar characteristics of most of its internet users getting the first experience of using Web on a mobile device. If you take India as an example, there are roughly 2 million broadband subscribers while there are close to 180 million mobile subscribers. Currently internet's reach is very limited and it is going to always lag the growth of the mobile subscribers. A rich user experience on mobile device for web would enable enhanced penetration rates of web users.

Small and medium enterprises

Small and medium enterprises find it very difficult to leverage information and communication technology because of very large initial investment and limited reach of conventional web based technologies. For example many enterprises in countries like India have very large field work force which needs accessibility to its enterprise network in order to effectively perform their job. Currently they use mobile phones to make voice call to retrieve such information while they are on the field. Mobile web could be a very cost effective solution for this large base of users.

Technology choices

As the developed world moves towards 3G and 4G, it is very clear that developing world would remain limited to 2.5G and in many cases to just 2G technologies. Unless 3G and 4G technologies become cost effective enough in order to useful to the common masses, there would not be very high acceptance of these technologies. We need to develop technologies that would enable effective development and deployment of enterprise and other applications over the mobile web and could provide an effective user experience by using only 2.5G and 2G technologies. Newer models need to be developed to deliver application data over SMS and 2.5 G type of technologies. Application models like AJAX, Cache and Carry , Data hoarding and a combination of these approaches may offer an effective medium to deploy applications that may be well suited to developing countries.
For enterprises applications models need to be developed that would enabled deployment of true asynchronous applications that would alleviate the need for the users or the devices to continue polling the network and enterprise network.


Content needs to developed and adapted for local markets and languages. Specific local interests like horoscopes, sport events etc need to be developed and delivered.

Conclusion and Recommendations

For mobile web to take off in developing countries like India, specific developments need to happen in application design, content design and technologies. Once these things are in place, for developing countries mobile web may become primary web. Applications need to be made device independent as much as possible and at the same time new transport related technologies need to be designed that could leverage available high bandwidth (3G and 2.5G) but at the same time could provide stripped down functionality just over SMS.