In this week’s New York Times Sunday Magazine there’s a fascinating article by Sara Corbett – Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty? — looking at the spread of cellphones in third world economies, and the social research being conducted by companies like Nokia into new technologies and delivery systems.

The article points out that “there are more than 3.3 billion mobile-phone subscriptions worldwide, which means that there are at least three billion people who don’t own cellphones, the bulk of them to be found in Africa and Asia.

“To get a sense of how rapidly cellphones are penetrating the global marketplace, you need only to look at the sales figures. According to statistics from the market database Wireless Intelligence, it took about 20 years for the first billion mobile phones to sell worldwide. The second billion sold in four years, and the third billion sold in two. Eighty percent of the world’s population now lives within range of a cellular network, which is double the level in 2000. And figures from the International Telecommunications Union show that by the end of 2006, 68 percent of the world’s mobile subscriptions were in developing countries. As more and more countries abandon government-run telecom systems, offering cellular network licenses to the highest-bidding private investors and without the burden of navigating pre-established bureaucratic chains, new towers are going up at a furious pace. Unlike fixed-line phone networks, which are expensive to build and maintain and require customers to have both a permanent address and the ability to pay a monthly bill, or personal computers, which are not just costly but demand literacy as well, the cellphone is more egalitarian, at least to a point.”

It’s just another indication that the interconnectedness of stakeholder groups around the globe is increasing at a rapid pace – as “The Authentic Enterprise” called out. And with SMS texting being a primary usage for cellphone users in every country, the speed with which reputations are made and lost keeps increasing at the same pace. Whether we like it or not, the revolution is happening before our eyes.