I generally like people who are passionate. But in such a crowd, the question comes up, "How can you spend all your time on telecom when our world is facing [...fill in a serious world problem...]?" Well, I don't have a way to solve world hunger, at least not directly. But I can contribute to improved communications and, in the long term, that is really, really significant.
Communications is the prime enabler of human progress. It was our ability to speak that originally separated humans from other primates. And whether it's written language, the printing press, telegraphy or television, each subsequent advance in communications has helped humans develop -- economically, politically and culturally. Communications exposes us to new ideas, in real time today -- think TV or mobile phones -- and across generations -- think books, paintings, photographs and now the Web. Communications supports collaboration, both person-to-person and in groups, and two minds are better than one.
Today, two global communications revolutions are in progress -- mobile phones and the Internet. They are converging, but it could be more than a decade before telephony becomes just another application running over the mobile Internet. For now, both revolutions are vital.
In the past 6-8 years, the cost of mobile phone infrastructure has dropped to the point where mobile phone adoption is sweeping many developing nations. Phone service provides immediate social and economic benefits to the individuals who get the service, and to their friends and neighbors.
Meanwhile the Internet has revolutionized the developed world and is making inroads in developing nations.
If anything, we are vastly underestimating the benefits this combined communications revolution will produce for mankind in the coming decades.
So, I may not be directly working on a solution for world hunger or human disease, or for world peace, but to the extent I'm making a small contribution to the global communications revolution, I'm helping enable long term solutions to all these problems.