2006 August


Extortion in the name of tax is taxtortion. That’s what I challenged when Bangladesh government imposed VAT on every new mobile conection last year. Last Thursday the High Court division of Bangladesh Supreme Court has declared it illegal. Read the details in this link http://www.thedailystar.
Competition in emerging Asia has spectacularly succeeded in extending connectivity and, now, is also bringing down prices. But there has been little improvement in service. It looks like that too is happening in the US which has facilities based competition between cable and conventional telephone companies. “When workers from AT&T and Verizon visit homes to install their new television services, they come with blue hospital booties that they slip over their shoes before going inside. The sight of burly installers in dainty slip-ons might induce snickers.
There has been considerable discussion in Sri Lanka about the need to unlicense the 2.4 GHz band used for WiFi. The Director General has assured that a Gazette reducing the license fees to LKR 100 is on the way (it would good if this can be posted on the TRC website). While this constitutes significant progress and is indicative of the progressive approach of the current leadership at the TRC, the fact remains that a license fee of LKR 0 with a postcard notification, or complete unlicensing is the right solution. A user will have to spend hours if not days especially if he/she lives outside Colombo) fullfilling the requirements of a s.
At the upcoming Digital Opportunity Forum organized by KADO (Korean Agency for Digital Opportunity & Promotion) and the ITU being held in Seoul, Korea, five researchers from LIRNEasia have been invited to present. Rohan Samarajiva will be giving the keynote speech on Bridging the Divide: Building Asia-Pacific Capacity for Effective Reforms and will act as the Chairman of the Forum. Rohan’s comments at the close of the First Day are included as well as the powerpoint from his keynote (also available at DOF site): SamarajivaBridgingAug06.ppt As part of LIRNEasia‘s ongoing research on the Six Country Indicators Project, lead researchers working on assessing ICT sector performance and analysing the reform process in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Philippines wil make their presentation on the Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) applied to their respective countries. Payal Malik will make a presentation on the Policy Implications from the DOI analysis of India; Divakar Goswami will present on DOI Applied to Indonesia: Assessing ICT Policy & Regulatory Environment; Joseph Wilson will present on Digital Opportunities in Pakistan: An Overview and Lorraine Salazar will present on The Case of the Philippines.
LIRNEasia’s 2005-06 research program laid bare the policy and regulatory conditions necessary for the successful mobilization of ICTs to serve the needs of people in specific emerging-economy contexts.  The research has identified hitherto unknown aspects of telecom use by low-income users, analyzed various non-optimal, but best-available, workaround options to connect people to access networks in the context of dysfunctional policy, regulatory and market environments, and provided critiques of large scale policy and regulatory actions for building out backbone and access networks. Summary Report
The current potential global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market of USD 11.5 billion is expected to grow ten-fold to around USD 120-150 billion in the near future. However, Sri Lanka only recently started emerging as a potential destination for outsourced work. Given that the BPO industry is in its infant stages in Sri Lanka, there is a dearth of quantitative and qualitative information regarding the sector. LIRNEasia was commissioned by the Information and Communication Technology Association (ICTA) of Sri Lanka to conduct a baseline sector analysis of the BPO industry in Sri Lanka.
Discussion of the paper to be presented by Divakar Goswami at the Digital Opportunity Forum, South Korea on August 30, 2006. The DOI measures the magnitude of the digital divide in a country, and uses the percentage of population covered by mobile cellular telephony, internet access tariffs and mobile cellular tariffs as a percentage of per capita income, proportion of households with fixed telephone, computer, internet access at home, etc to measure digital divide.
Please continue your discussions on the above topic here. The previous thread is archived here.
Developing countries have tended to focus on disaster relief and rehabilitation at the expense of strategies to prevent or mitigate effects of disasters in the first place. To a politician, the political payout from handing out relief materials to the disaster affected appears greater than investing in a national early warning system that may not yield any political reward during his/her tenure. Political expediency coupled with a mix of fatalism, laziness to undertake the hardwork required to implement mitigation/prevention strategies, low valued assigned to human life in developing countries have all contributed to the callous acceptance of natural disasters as a “fact of life.” Hence, the allusion to a “paradigm shift” referred to by the Indian minister, hopefully marks a policy shift rather than just a rhetorical one. ———— India, others work on region’s first disaster management policy The Hindu, August 22, 2006 New Delhi, Aug 22.
The Network Readiness Index is out. All the measured South Asian countries saw their rankings decline, but Sri Lanka, dropping 12 positions, was the worst peformer from the region this year. Indonesia, dropping 17 positions, was the worst in Asia. “The Report uses the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), covering a total of 115 economies in 2005-2006, to measure the degree of preparation of a nation or community to participate in and benefit from ICT developments. The NRI is composed of three component indexes which assess: * the environment for ICT offered by a given country or community * the readiness of the community’s key stakeholders – individuals, business and governments * and the usage of ICT among these stakeholders” Top 15 plus Asia rankings at: Asia NetReadiness Rankings More details
Thursday, August 17, 2006 Posted: 1431 GMT (2231 HKT) (AP) — The ambitious project to provide low-cost laptop computers to poor children around the world is about to take a small step forward. More than 500 children in Thailand are expected to receive the machines in October and November for quality testing and debugging. Read the rest of the article on CNN
In developed markets where the foundation of a high-capacity data transmission network exists, WiFi overlays are likely to be very effective. In emerging economies, where the foundation is yet being built, the same solutions may not as effective. But it is worth following the action, described in the NYT article below. “Google has deployed 380 lamppost-mounted Wi-Fi transceivers in Mountain View to make wireless Internet service available to anyone who has registered for a Google account, which is free. The company has invested a significant amount in promoting the benefits of wireless Internet access.
The article raises some interesting points with regards to the potential impacts of regulatory intereventions (in this case on the issue of LLU). Subsequent to being forced to reduce its LLU fee, Telstra stock has stumbled. Can anyone with more regulatory experience on this blog share their thoughts on this article? Is this a case of over regulation? The article can be found at HERE A related International Herald Tribune article can be found HERE
With so many options becoming available to consumers to circumvent their mobiles and fixed phones, I wonder how much longer we can expect a single tier internet. The linked BBC article examines some new VOIP companies which are providing last mile access (for PC/PHone to phone communication) for free.
In the 1990s, I was involved in intense debates in the US about how to incentivize telcos to bring fiber closer to the home. It’s finally happening, and guess what is driving it? Competition. “Verizon will spend about $20 billion by the end of the decade to reach 16 million homes from Florida to California. But it is in New York City where Verizon has the most at stake, because New Yorkers are some of the nation’s biggest buyers of video, Internet and phone services.
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