2005 August


The final report for this study, Benchmarking National Telecom Regulatory Authority websites of Asia-Pacific Region (Version 2.0 – pre-publication) is now available. It can be downloaded HERE (PDF document). An earlier, more detailed version of the report, Version 1.5, can be downloaded HERE.
Points of discussion Gender neutrality Women have built trust via a long term relationship with GB. Hence women are chosen based on their prior relationship with GB. MKJ:  Gender patterns do emerge from the fact that GB’s best customers are women. AZ: Groups of VPOs  “monitor” each others repayments within a village since if one person doesn’t repay on time it reflects badly on the rest of the VPOs in that village Mahinda: even in the Suntel-Ceylinco-Gramin scheme most of the credit-worthy customers are women. On Subsidies Since the cost structures were not available, we cannot say if the handset discounts and airtime discounts, etc.
[By SHARON LaFRANIERE, New York Times, Aug.25.05] This NYT article looks at Africa’s mobile boom, stating that it has taken the industry by surprise; common wisdom was that Africans are not big telecom users. But ‘it turned out that Africans had never been big phone users because nobody had given them the chance.’ Today, one in eleven Africans (roughly 9%) is a mobile subscriber.
by Sriganesh Lokanathan The study has been undertaken in keeping with the proposed 2006 theme of the World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies (WDR), ‘Sector and Regulatory Performance Indicators.’ The definition of standardized benchmark indicators with their respective viable methodologies in the Asian context is required for an accurate comparative analysis of the regulatory and sector performance in ICTs. Recognizing that this constitutes a participatory exercise among experts in the telecommunication industry standards and regulatory affairs, telecom authorities and statistical organizations as well as academics and interested individuals, this preliminary methodology framework document was commissioned to lay the groundwork to initiate and foster active discussion among the aforementioned participants on issues related to the proposed 2006 WDR theme. With these guiding principles, this preliminary methodology on domestic leased line tariffs was formulated since national leased line tariffs is an important indictor of the potential of countries to foster broadband coverage and network expansion. LIRNEasia intends to test the methodology first in the South Asian region and then extend it to the rest of Asia.

Fixed line substitution

Posted by on August 23, 2005  /  4 Comments

The research that is currently being written up by LIRNEasia researchers on ICT use on a shoestring is expected to shed light on fixed-mobile substitution, given the fact that India has been successful in introducing CPP for its mobiles and mobile and fixed outgoing charges have more or less converged.  The news story that MTNL, the incumbent in Mumbai and New Delhi, has decided to deploy special teams to halt the ending of fixed subscriptions is good evidence that there is fixed-mobile substitution in India.  Caution should be exercised in generalizing from this to other countries where the conditions of CPP and price convergence have not been satisfied.
LIRNEasia, in association with LIRNE.NET, Nanyang Technological University and the InfoComm Development Authority of Singapore is offering an executive course in regulatory strategy in Singapore, Sept 25-30, 2005.   This limited-enrollment course is 70 per cent subscribed at this time.  Participants representing government, regulatory agencies, telecom operators, universities and civil society from 14 countries ranging from Moldova to the Philippines have already registered.  The speakers are confirmed as are the arrangements to visit the InfoComm Development Authority.
CDMA is a big story in Sri Lanka these days.  As a result of the frequency refarming process that was started in 2003 with the issuance of 1800 GSM frequencies to Dialog Telekom and Mobitel through an auction, 800 CDMA frequencies were released earlier this year by the Telecom Regulatory Commission.  The article  by Amal Jayasinghe in lbo.lk provides more detail on how the rollout is proceeding.  Shortly after the article was published, Suntel began to offer LKR 1500 discounts, which may be the start of the price reductions I refer to in the Jayasinghe piece.
A Press Conference has been organized by LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation, in collaboration with Sarvodaya, the Sri Lanka National Committee of Large Dams and ITDG South Asia to present an interim concept paper on an Early Warning System for Dam Related Hazards. It was held on August 10, 2005 at the Auditorium, Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. The concept paper was developed in consultation with local and international dam experts. Community meetings were held in three Sri Lankan cities that lie significantly in the flood path of the Mahaweli dam system, Kandy, Gampola, and Polonnaruwa. The purpose of these meetings was to raise awareness of on dam safety issues and to receive input from this most important set of stakeholders.
From the beginning, LIRNEasia was seen as serving/working with three constituencies: government, the private sector and civil society.  Accordingly, the initial board of directors included representatives from all three groups.  Dr Vinya Ariyaratne, the Executive Director of Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest and most deeply embedded social action organization, has served on the Board from the beginning. With the tsunami and the unprecedented challenges it posed to all organizations in Sri Lanka, the relationship deepened.  LIRNEasia‘s Executive Director was invited to serve on the Deshodaya Council (National Reawakening Council) of Sarvodaya, a new body akin to a board of directors in many respects and also to advise the organization on ICT issues.
Diversifying Participation in Network Development The 2005 WDR research theme, Diversifying Participation in Network Development explores the evolving strategies used  to extend the telecom network primarily to rural, high-cost areas. The objective of this cutting edge research is to identify successful strategies that can be replicated in other countries and to avoid unsuccessful ones. Light will be shed on these innovative approaches, looking at key experience to capture the range of possible sources, types and methods of investment funding for network development. The research is currently being developed by the WDR research community in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Who should attend?
Dr Huichuan Liu, former Chair of Department of Information and Communication at TamKang University arranged a 3-hour meeting of 8 telecom policy-regulation researchers at the downtown campus of TamKang.     Six researchers attended the session and participated actively:  Professor Yu-Li Liu, National Chengchi U, Dept of Radio TV; Asst Professor Kuo-Feng Tseng, National Chengchi U, Dept of Radio TV; Associate Professor Eunice Hsian-Hui Wang,Yuan Ze U, Dept of Information Communication; Asst Professor Ying-Hsun Wang, TamKang U, Dept of Information and Communication; Assoc Professor Huichuan Liu, TamKang U, Dept of Information and Communication; Dr YunTsai Jessica Chou, Chairperson, Research Development and Evaluation Commission, Taipei City Government. A photo of the researchers who remained until the very end of the session Given the fact that is in the process of enacting legislation to create a National Communication Commission, LIRNEasia work was of particular interest, especially to the attendees who serve on the committee working on the legislation. Dr Chou arranged for a visit of the Taipei City Government’s WiFi project, which is reported on here.
LIRNEasia congratulates Dr Harsha Vardhana Singh,  Senior Economist, on his appointment as Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization.  We look forward to continued association with Dr Singh.  He will complete the Asian backbone study that he is in the midst of researching before he takes up his new appointment.  Understandably, he will not be able to be part of the team delivering the telecom reform course that LIRNEasia is offering in Singapore Septemeber 25-30, 2005.  However, we expect we will be able to draw on his broad expertise in the future in research and educational projects.