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  • Feb. 2011
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discretion ... but valued by those who find it difficult to express their emotions more discursively."

One female pupil at Ravensbourne school in Kent put it more succinctly: "It's a more intimate way to flirt," she told her focus group. "You're not doing it to their face."

But while the research points out that mobile phones now boast twice the reach of the desktop internet, it argues that the impact of phones has been local rather than global, shoring up existing friendships and networks, rather than opening users up to a new broader community. Even the language of texting in one area can be incomprehensible to anybody from another area.

Despite the enthusiasm with which Britons have embraced the mobile, the researchers uncovered deep-seated mistrust of promises of a hi-tech future delivered via 3G phone, confirming a recent survey which ranked the British as the least enthusiastic in Europe about using the technology.

According to the author, much of this is understandable given the massive hype which surrounded the launch of 3G licences three years ago and the subsequent failure of the industry to get the system up and running.

But the report also blames the manufacturers for failing to offer consumers compelling reasons to buy into 3G, focus ing instead on portraying the technology as an optional extra "plaything". It concludes: "At its worst, the 'toy' model of mobile communications signals an inability on the part of the mobile industry to inspire their consumers with a richer account of what the technology can do."

Among the benefits, the report claims, will be a vastly improved mobile infrastructure, productivity gains throughout the economy, and the provision of more sophisticated location-based services for users. The greatest benefits of 3G could be in the delivery of public services, thereby revolutionising the relationship between government and the public.

The report is withering about attempts so far by politicians to harness...

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