SMS as a means for glocal communication

by : Vijay Shukla

SMS as a means for “glocal" communicationImagine a farmer in a village in India enquiring about the rates of wheat from a trader in China, so that he can take a decision on exporting the wheat.

Sounds too global! But yes, that would be the reality as the trade boundaries disappear and globalization starts diffusing to the village economies.

But what impact would it have on the communication technology? To set the context, one must know that most of the people in rural areas are not well literate, and they do not use English as their medium of communication. These people need a communication technology which is simple to learn and simple to use and serve their basic minimum requirements. They can’t afford to use the technology which is flashy, complex and costly.

Internet as a means of communication with the external world is still in infancy in some urban areas, leave apart the rural areas. The reason for its low adoption has been the high capital cost of buying a computer and the complexity in learning and using the computer. The computer actually provides for much more than a farmer actually needs and hence it falls flat in cost-benefit analysis.

What farmer actually needs is a medium of communication that is simple to use and something that would enable them to communicate in the local language and yet interact with the global community. SMS as a means of communication can fulfill all these criteria. It is simple and easy to use (due to the simplicity of mobile handsets) and one can write SMS in local language. MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) for data services like ValueFirst add value to the sms by providing an intelligent sms gateway that would provide language translation services. When the farmer would send the sms to a mobile number in China, the intelligent sms gateway of MVNO will intercept the message and convert it into mandarin before it being delivered to the recipient. Further, if the message has to be delivered to ten different recipients, all of them would get a message in their local dialects which would be decided on the basis of number code series.

SMS would thus enable the business community (farmersFeature Articles, local traders etc.) who are not well proficient in English to transact seamlessly with the global community and create a glocal community which can then be very much a part of globalization.