The Rise of Telecommunications Services in the Developing World

Telecommunications services have become a ubiquitous presence in our modern times, with cell phones and computers as our main tools for communication. In the United States, Europe, and other developed nations, we seem to take for granted the access we have to these devices and the ease at which we can acquire them. For third world and developing nations, the availability of these services lags behind, which has a palpable effect on their economies and quality of life. Research, however, has indicated that these nations are catching up.Consider that in 2005, about 2 billion people had a mobile or cellular subscription service. At the end of 2014, 7 billion people had some type of subscription, with 3.6 billion in the Asia/Pacific region alone. In terms of percentages, that is about 96 percent of the world’s population.When viewed through the lens of developed versus developing nations, research indicates that there are 128 subscriptions per 100 people in developed nations, versus 89 per 100 people in developing countries. While there remains room for expansion in developing nations, the rate of subscription growth has reached its lowest levels in a decade, meaning the market is approaching a saturation point.Telecommunications services also include access to the Internet, which has a much smaller reach when juxtaposed with cellular services. Three billion people are online, which represents about 40 percent of the world’s population. For developed nations, 78 per 100 people use the Internet, versus 32 per 100 people in developing nations. This is a much bigger gap than the one seen in cell phone usage, indicating these nations still have a long way to go. Of the 1.1 billion households not connected to the Internet, 90 percent are in developing countries.How can these nations catch up? Luckily, due to the expansion of telecommunications services and companies, broadband prices have dropped significantly over the past decade. In obvious economic terms, the cheaper the product, the wider the accessibility. Africa is notably the farthest behind in terms of broadband connectivity, with the continent accounting for 0.5 percent of the world’s fixed broadband subscriptions.Telecommunications companies are beginning to enter Africa, as many of its nations are emerging economic markets. With investment from the telecommunications industry, it is more than probable that access to the Internet will gradually climb similarly to that of the cellular market. While it is unlikely that these countries will reach the connectivity of the developed world, the level of infrastructure for communications will improve drastically with outside investments pouring in. Consider the case of Nigeria: about a decade ago, there were 100,000 phone lines, mostly landlines operated by the state-run company NITEL. That company folded, and now there are over 100 million mobile phone lines.In a world where quick, easy, and mobile communication is the norm, it is important to these nations to reach modern levels of telecommunications. It is hugely significant for their economies and also for simple access to information. The Internet and cellular phones have condensed the size of the world, allowing us the ability to communicate with anyone at any time.

Home-Based Business Ideas – Think Big, Act and Grow Rich with Unique Business Ideas

We have all seen the inviting headlines: “Home-based Business Ideas That Can Make You Millions”; “The Hottest Home-Based Business Ideas to Use Now!”; “Launch a Successful Home-Based Business with These 10 Can’t-Miss Business Ideas.” The list of such headlines is endless, followed by articles that galvanize the reader’s interest in starting his/her own enterprise with visions of “happily ever after” outcomes.But the first idea that I must present is that envisioning and dreaming about a home-based business is only a prerequisite towards successful entrepreneurship. Constructive action must follow any home-based business idea!There exist so many entrepreneurial wannabees who remain in a constant state of immobilization. Such individuals often possess intelligence and creativity, even thinking outside of the box, but remain entrapped in the idea that they cannot pursue a home-based venture due to time or financial constraints. Others feel powerless to take action because they don’t know where to start. Indeed, they are uncertain as to what steps to take, going from inspiration and cognition to actual business production. Still, other aspiring entrepreneurs must confront self-imposed limitations, believing that they are incapable, incompetent souls who are not deserving of acquiring good fortune. Fear often predominates their collective mindset as there is much trepidation that the outcome of any home-based business idea will be an unfavorable one.Regardless of the reason, refuse to remain in a state of immobilization. If you have an idea for a home-based business, go forward with it! Of course, any idea for a business venture must be thoroughly researched and evaluated. One needs to consider the competition, costs, labor and time involved, the methods and procedures of the given business, potential return on investment and a host of other issues. The importance of business preparation cannot be underestimated. However, if you determine that the idea is viable and has merit after engaging in exhaustive research (even calling upon experts for advice), you owe it to yourself to implement it.But many people who want to quit their jobs and discover their ideal home-based business may not have a concrete idea as to the type of enterprise to launch. Others may possess a few simmering thoughts as to which direction to go but the primary idea that resides in the cyberspace of their minds is that they are just desperate to work at home!In order for a particular home-based business idea to germinate, perhaps one must first explore one’s own interests. Is it possible for an avocation to become a vocation? If you are passionate about creating jewelry, for example, that may be the underpinning of a home-based startup jewelry business. If you are a photography aficionado, photography may be the means to gain self-employment.Successful Internet marketers always trumpet the importance of finding a niche. Your interest may uncover a niche that proves profitable. If you can tailor your hobby and interest to meet the needs and demands of a particular market, you can quickly prosper.Local markets can even be tapped to develop a money-making enterprise. Consider a home-based entrepreneur who creates a free community newsletter, receiving advertising dollars. Another may find it more creative and profitable to sell a map of the local establishments, designed on a placemat presented by a given restaurant. The businesses listed on the map pay to be highlighted. Think about those who have created local surveys and reviews (comparing restaurants, hotels, etc.) and selling the resource at bookstores. The jeweler and photography, in our example above, may create work that reflects local influences, and thereby, gains local popularity. For example, I have a friend who resides in Alaska who is a sculptor and photographer. He has an inherent love of nature and outdoors, and captures the Alaskan wilderness and myriad forms of wildlife in his work. His creations subsequently capture the attention and dollars of his fellow Alaskan residents.Obviously, an interest or passion in a particular field should be accompanied by a certain amount of competence or skill. It is difficult, for instance, to become a successful artist if one does not know how to draw. Proficiency need not be inherent; it can be developed. But one should have a firm grasp of one’s abilities, talents and, don’t minimize it – potential. As Carol Brady, celebrated TV mother of the Brady Bunch series once wisely declared, “Find out what you do best and do your best with it.”(When developing an entrepreneurial mindset — when you are trying to create and define your home-based business ideas — be open to all resources, including popular cultural influences such as television programs and movies. Indeed, as actress Melanie Griffith said in her role as Tess McGill in the movie, “Working Girl”: “You never know where the big ideas will come from.”)While exploring your interests and aptitudes, as you are open to a plethora of possibilities and opportunities, think about the prevailing winds of societal needs that change from time to time. Are there any national or local trends that you observe? Are there any growing markets? What are some fundamental needs that can be satisfied on a local and/or national level.Unfortunately, for example, consumer debt continues to skyrocket in the United States. Millions of Americans owe more money than they make. So many people merely pay the interest portion, not the principal, of their credit card bills and find it increasingly difficult to pay crucial bills, such as a home mortgage. Any real estate agent can attest to the steady and scary upward climb in the rates of foreclosures. Opportunistic companies are responding to this alarming trend. Home-based businesses relating to the burgeoning consumer debt are proportionately increasing, specializing in credit counseling, debt consolidation and even collection.Consider another trend: While we continue to become more health and fitness-conscious, the rate of obesity remains on an upswing. Certain home-based businesses cater to each demographic and some to both. A self-employed fitness trainer primarily taps into our collective interest to get into better shape. A purveyor of weight loss products gains from our national obsession to lose weight. Those who are designing programs that incorporate an exercise regime with a recommended protocol of dietary modifications may prove to be doubly fortunate.So keep your finger on the pulse of “hot markets” and you may warm up to a very profitable undertaking. But don’t be afraid that your home-based business idea is too common, especially if it relates to tried and true home-based businesses. You may have an idea to add a twist to any business and deliver your own brand of special service.Among the most frequently touted best home-based businesses include computer repair, childcare, coaching (life coach or Internet business coach) and tutoring, distributing and selling tangible goods or information-related services, interior decorating, photography, transcription services, dealing antiques and collectibles, handicrafts, baking, sewing and gardening and farming. The list is not exhaustive but presents fields that have proven profitable for the home-based business owner.Many home-based business entrepreneurs decide not to walk or run on the conventional path. Their home-based business ideas are unique. Look at this creative entrepreneurial venture: Providing surf reports to those who want to “hang 10.” The owners of this business are hanging a lot more zeros when it comes to their bottom line. Another company profits from the absent-minded by offering a “reminder service,” reminding clients about special dates or occasions several days in advance. Many home-based business owners make a living by providing specialized instruction: Stop smoking groups, public speaking courses, women’s empowerment seminars are all variations on the theme of providing direct instruction. Maybe I should start a tutorial center on viable home-based business opportunities … but then again, this field is already saturated.Even absurd home-based business ideas can take off, leading to early retirement for the home-based business owner. The Pet Rock, Designer Dirt, deeds to land that once belonged to famous people (e.g, Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley) have all contributed nicely to the financial coffers of their creators. Certain television programs love to highlight the offbeat, out-of the-box home-based business owner who has a unique idea. Think of something unusual and you will get massive publicity, especially if it involves a celebrity. I’m sure there are entrepreneurs right now, for example, who are getting a fat wallet on the coattails of Paris Hilton with their “Free Paris” t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons and posters. They can even cater to the “Anti-Paris” community with their “Don’t Free Paris” paraphernalia.In conclusion, it is crucial to act on the idea of pursuing a home-based business venture. Do the required research and preparation and consider your talents, abilities and potential. Think about any trends in business or growing markets that you can use to your advantage. Learn about businesses that have proven to be profitable for other home-based business owners. And do not, under any circumstances, be afraid or hesitant to think outside the box. In our culture, a crazy idea can very well lead to crazy money.These home-based business ideas may transform your aspirations into action. You deserve to be your own boss – the captain of your own ship. Let your ship come into port!

Traveling To America? New ESTA Registration Mandated January 2009

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal nonimmigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.What If I Have a Criminal Record?Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.What Information Does the Airlines Get?Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.What About Children?Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, childrens’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs.gov website.If I Am Denied the ESTA Travel Authorization Will it Effect My Ability to Obtain a Visa at the U.S. Embassy?When the ESTA Travel Authorization is denied, the foreign traveler must make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy in their country to apply for a formal Visa. The U.S. Embassy is operated by the U.S. Department of State and there are no expedited procedures for those who have been denied ESTA Travel Authorization. Because the ESTA program is so new, it is impossible to predict how badly a denial of the ESTA Travel Authorization will impact a traveler’s application for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or impact their future travel to America in general. American Immigration Attorneys are in close contact with their foreign clients and will share the denial information with each other starting in January 2009. Currently there are no government policies regulating this area of the law, or opportunities to appeal a denial.When Is the a “New” ESTA Travel Authorization Required?A new ESTA Travel Authorization is required during the two years if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport (2) the traveler changes his name (3) the traveler changes his or her gender (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed (such as a new arrest).Can an American Immigration Attorney, Travel Agent or Employer Fill Out the ESTA Application?A third party, such as a relative, travel agent or American Immigration Attorney, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. Be aware that the traveler is still responsible under the law for the answers submitted on his or her behalf by a third party.Over 68,000 travelers have already voluntarily registered by using the ESTA online system in the last few months. Applicants are reminded to obtain a new “e-passport” which has an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, when registering with ESTA.