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Your Project Headline

Create a fairness index for the mobile web

Short Description

A global team of netizens is working on a "[big mac]" styled index to compare the cost and freedom to access mobile networks in countries around the world. But we need your help! Become part of the community that is contributing the critical information from around the world needed to make the index work.

How will your idea make the web better?

As the web moves into the mobile space two new challenges to the digital emerge.

First, it is essential to promote affordable and open mobile access - even through SMS - for those least able to access the internet.

Second, the mobile internet is at risk of become a walled garden with mobile operators jealously protect their mobile services and using them to help lock in users. This is in stark contrast to the open environment of the Internet which has spawned what are now some of the largest companies in the world (Google, Facebook, et al).

The Fairmobile index won't solve these problems directly but it will make them more transparent and visible to people everywhere. We see the index as the cornerstone to a broader campaign for a fairer, more competitive and just mobile marketplace.


Mobile, development

Image or Logo

Video or Presentation Slides

Participation. What do you need help with right now?

We need help:

  • Designing a set of simple metrics that can be used to measure mobile network openess & cost
  • Gathering accurate information about mobile companies around the world
  • Finding an innovative, easy and non-language dependent way to display the index

What kinds of helpers or volunteers do you need?

Goals, metrics and milestones. What is the outcome you're seeking?


Create a “BigMac” index for mobile openness, access and cost, with the aims of:

  1. Making costs of voice, SMS and data around the world more transparent (fm goal)
  2. Show where carriers are standing in the way of mobile service innovation (moz goal)
  3. Create a proof point for people who want to promote fair access and open innovation in the mobile marketplace


  • Launch an advocacy campaign by January 2011 using Fairmobile index as the centrepiece.
  • Have a global fairmobile index with 50 countries included available by Q3 of 2010
  • Gather all data necessary to create an index for 25 countries by Q2 of 2010
  • Have a model for accessing cost of access and the openess of a providers network by Q1 2010

Current challenges and questions

The central challenge is twofold:

  • Creating a simple metric that conveys affordability and/or openess of a network
  • Gathering reliable data for mobile companies across Africa and the world

The first problem is a design challenge, the latter is a crowdsourcing challenge.


This project seeks to engage international development advocates and technology advocates who see the enormous potential mobile technologies have in emerging economies.

Ultimately the project seeks to empower those who seek regulatory change to the mobile industry in any country where costs or rules prohibit development.


Global with a strong emphasis on Africa

Partners and collaborators


This idea was first outlined by Steve Song and Katrin Verclas. See Steve's Fair Mobile - A Start' and the Fair Mobile campaign site for more info. There is also a a google group.

Tools and Platforms

There is a discussion group for FairMobile on their [Google Group].

Budget & Fundraising

(How much do you think it will cost to make your project work?)

---Older Content Below

THE PROBLEM: Most mobile networks are closed, walled gardens where - unlike the internet - users are constrained by what they can do, buy or create. Moreover, pricing structures are opaque and confusing.

THE SOLUTION: Develop the FairMobile index and bring transparency to the high cost and few freedoms users experience on many carrier networks.

THE CHALLENGE: Create a series of metrics that can be easily displayed in a visual manner (Like the BigMac index). Gather and analyze the data necessary to create the FairMobile Index from multiple carriers in dozens of countries around the world.

Mozilla and Fair Mobile:

FairMobile will likely succeed on its own. However, Mozilla may be able to help it get there fast via Drumbeat. Things Drumbeat might offer:

  1. Mozilla's brand as a vehicle to attract skilled contributors, donations and the attention of a wider audience
  2. Strong communities in many parts of the world - including China, Brazil and India - where people might be interested in contributing to this project

Possible Drumbeat Activities:

One possible approach:

  1. Katrin, Stephen and a small team scope out what the structure of the FairMobile Index looks like (e.g. metrics, methodology, data required, etc...)
  2. In an effort to crowdsource the gathering of relevant data from around the world Mozilla lends its brand to the project and helps create a drumbeat project page to organize contributors

Design challenge the FairMobile index

Once the FairMobile Index is created the project can shift to running a design challenge around how to best visualize the index. Mozilla has significant experience in this space and some high-level steps include:

  1. Share the data and "axises" of the FairMobile Index
  2. Lay out the parameters for the design challenge (such as...:)
    1. Who is the audience
    2. What is the medium (paper, cell phone screen, website)
    3. What is (are) the technologies (jpg, java, HTML, etc...)
  3. Select judging panel

This would be based on the Mozilla Labs design challenge approach