Washington Post carries a long article about how internet access through cellphone (connected to a computer) is making life easier for the people of a village in Bangladesh. Here are some of the uses listed in the article
1. Making sure that a doctor will be available before making a long and expensive trip to the city
2. Make up for the lack of access to books
3. Call relatives abroad using VoIP at dirt cheap rates (11 cents vs $2)
4. Getting married on webcam !!!
These cellphone powered internet centers are being set up by Grameen Phone which is partly owned by Grameen Bank of Muhammad Yunus fame. To the best of my knowledge 3G hasn't arrived in Bangladesh yet. So that means the cellphone based internet can provide dialup speeds at best. I didn't know you could do VoIP or video conferencing over dialup!
Right now a number of initiatives are going on to make computers available at extremely low cost. Assuming atleast one of these initiative will succeed, this story illustrates how a combination of dirt cheap cellular rates and availability of computers can improve the quality of life of people.