If you want to check out what I'm talking about, first go see Teledesic.
I will get to the technology, but first, a little cultural analysis...
A couple hundred years ago, when the first world went through an industrial revolution, much of the older third world did not need such a revolution. The high population densities created a larger workforce where hundreds of people that could have been replaced by a single machine, weren't, because they still needed jobs to survive. Thus, no revolution. Even today, this people-driven culture still works.
Unfortunately, the new information-driven economy does not have an easy alternative for the third world, as the industrial one did. The third world desperately needs high-tech communication, but cannot afford to create a cabling infrastructure like North America did. They need a cost-effective solution that will connect them with the first world. I'm not talking every individual here, as obviously someone in say, Somalia, who cannot find their next meal, probably doesn't care if they "have new mail!". I simply think that it's important for governments and businesses EVERYWHERE to be connected. (And of course world food distribution might be eased by such a connection, as well...)
I think that low-earth orbit satellite communication systems are the answer.
Now, I know what some of you will say: "Not possible!" "Look at Iridium!"
Iridium failed for two reasons. a)Too expensive. b)It mirrored existing cellular service (except for the roaming, of course;).
Let's face it. People in the first world don't need yet another wireless communication system. Particularly in North America and in Europe, there already exists an extensive cable and wireless infrastructure. These systems will contiue to grow as the user base and technology grows.
In places with an extremely high population density and relatively low connectivity (groud based), such as India and China (both 1billion+), a cabling infrastructure is a ludicrous suggestion. Need I even mention the "untamed wilderness" that is Africa?
Enter Teledesic (btw, I in NO way am associated with the company or ANY of its' empolyees or business partners - how's THAT for a disclaimer?).
Teledesic (if it becomes what it claims it will) looks like it just might save the third world. It has a high-bandwith/low-latency wireless data connection that rivals T3. Physical cables need not be run across huge distances (as in Africa) or to billions of places (as in Asia). If the cost is kept reasonably low enough that many of the people living in these areas are able to afford them, this company may have an excellent solution.
I, for one, hope they succeed.