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2G Data Networks in 2014

When I talk about offline access, people will sometimes say, “It’s 2014. Internet is ubiquitous.”

It’s not.

The web in the developing world #

First, go read this post on Wired about the web in the developing world:

The most common smartphone in the world is, according to Ericsson, the K-Touch W 619. It has a single core processor, and a 3.5-inch display with 480 x 320 resolution. When you hear about the next billion people going online, that’s the kind of device they’re going to use to do it. What’s more, they’re going to run that phone on networks where traffic moves at kilobytes per second, not megabytes.

Low connectivity in my vet’s office #

Then take a look at this screenshot of my internet connection when I was in my vet’s office the other day (that’s 1 bar on an Edge network).

A screenshot of my phone with 1 bar of signal on an Edge network

Offline First, a possible way forward #

Then go read this post on Offline First, the next step in progressive enhancement:

We can’t keep building apps with the desktop mindset of permanent, fast connectivity, where a temporary disconnection or slow service is regarded as a problem and communicated as an error.

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Have any questions or comments about this post? Email me at or contact me on Twitter at @ChrisFerdinandi.

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