2006 December


How safe from a tsunami?

Posted by on December 31, 2006  /  1 Comments

The views of the joint coordinator of the Post-graduate Degree Program on Disaster Management at the University of Peradeniya. Two years on: How safe are we from a future tsunami? In connection with early warning, it must be added that the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been coordinating the efforts of the international community led by the Government of the United States of America to develop a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean, similar to that currently used in the Pacific, by the end of 2007. The proposed Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning Network, though by no means a foolproof system, will help improve Sri Lanka’s tsunami early warning capability and reliability. Yet, the more difficult and challenging task will be the dissemination of such tsunami warnings fast and effectively to the vulnerable communities so as to enable their evacuation to safe locations before the arrival of the tsunami.
FLAG Telecom plans to deploy the largest IP-based submarine cable network that will connect 60 countries, including many that currently have poor connectivity by 2009. India, Indonesia, and Philippines are among the countries that FLAG’s NGN network will have a presence in. Reliance to carry FLAG far and wide: “We live in a world where there is too much of bandwidth for some, little for others and none for many – there is unequal access to bandwidth in and across countries, continents and communities,” said Anil Dhirubhai Ambani, chairman, Reliance Communications. “FLAG NGN will democratise digital access,” he added. FLAG NGN will comprise of our systems.
A study by RAND noted the vulnerability of submarine cables to undersea attacks by hostile forces in order hamper communication links to the United States. Using Taiwan as an illustrative case, the study said the following: As seen in Table I.2, a recent survey of the number of international submarine cables reaching Taiwan is particularly disconcerting. Four out of five undersea fiber optic cables reaching Taiwan do so at either Fangshan or Toucheng (the fifth, a “self-healing loop” reaches Taiwan at both, meaning that both cables would have to be damaged for Taiwan to be cut off). Two more planned cables have landing areas at Fangshan.
The strong quake off Taiwan’s coast on December 26 damaged six separate submarine cables and severely disrupted telecom links in the East, Southeast and South Asia. Internet connectivity in a number of countries are either down or are slowed down thanks to taffic that is being rerouted over networks that have escaped damage. Most of Jakarta (Indonesia) and Pondicherry (Southern India) have been without Internet until this afternoon (Dec 27) at least. In our office in Sri Lanka, SLT’s ADSL connection (though congested) is working. However, Lankacom’s leased line is down since it probably connects to the Internet backbone via Singapore.

We wish to believe

Posted by on December 25, 2006  /  5 Comments

According to the Independent, Sri Lanka is the best prepared to communicate tsunami warnings to at-risk populations on the coast. We wish to believe this. But unlike the highly-trained journalist from the Independent, we have taken the trouble to ask a few questions: 1. Does Sri Lanka have a single national multi-hazard warning center? NO.

Indian Ocean tsunami warning

Posted by on December 23, 2006  /  0 Comments

Indian Ocean tsunami warning system on slow track: Tsunami Warning Remains Elusive – Council on Foreign Relations The wave which swept so many away two years ago (BBC) has faded from memory in many parts of the world, even though as many as two million people remain in temporary shelters in parts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. But surely the less onerous task of setting up a skeletal tsunami warning network must be well along, right?Not quite. While enormous sums of aid flowed in for relief and reconstruction efforts, the less glamorous work of positioning seismic warning buoys around the rim of the Indian Ocean lags financially and organizationally. As this new Backgrounder explains, several piecemeal systems are up and running, but the goal of creating an Indian Ocean early-warning system to rival the ones run by the United States and Japan in the Pacific remains a long way from being reached (TIME).
The TRE 2006 results [PDF Download] of the first Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey applied across six Asian countries were released in New Delhi yesterday. The TRE Assessment, developed by LIRNEasia and already implemented in a number of countries, is a perceptual index which gauges regulatory performance across six dimensions. The TRE survey carried out in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand as part of a multi-component study, closely reflected regulatory reform actions undertaken in the respective countries along with sector performance. The Hindustan Times, a leading newspaper in India, covered the findings from the TRE surveys [PDF Download] focusing on the comparison between India and Pakistan’s scores. Pakistan Bests India in Telecoms Regulation by M.
Rohan Samarajiva chaired the Universal, Ubiquitous, Equitable and Affordable session at the ITU World 2006 that raised some fundamental questions about Universal Service Obligation (USO) programs around the world. Rohan introduced the topic [PDF] drawing from LIRNEasia‘s recent Shoestrings II study on telephone use at the “bottom of the pyramid.” The first Keynote speaker, Zhengmao Li, VP China Unicom, described the efforts of the Chinese govt and his company in building a harmonious digital society. Thanks to the govt’s policy to provide access to ICTs on an equitable and affordable basis, more than 97 percent of administrative villages in China have a phone. The second Keynote speaker, Tom Philips, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSM Association forcefully argued that USO programs in most parts of the world have not resulted in improved access but have rather harmed the objective of connecting those who currently do not have access.
Rohan Samarajiva and Divakar Goswami from LIRNEasia chaired back-to-back Forum sessions at the ITU World 2006 in Hong Kong on December 7. The Building Digital Communities session, chaired by Divakar, covered a wide-swathe of topics. In his opening remarks [PDF], he outlined on some of the issues that would be covered in the presentations and discussion to follow. In his Keynote address, the Indonesian Minister of Communication & IT, Sofyan Djalil proposed that global equipment manufacturers should adopt a new business model where they share some of the investment risk with operators while deploying infrastructure in financially unviable areas in developing countries. He suggested that the current model where developing countries are only purchasers of high cost equipment and services, breeds dependency and is unsustainable in the long run.
Indonesia’s telecom industry association and regulatory authority requested the participation of LIRNEasia at a seminar in Jakarta to address two key issues: 1) what telecom investors are looking for from the regulatory and policy environment in the country; 2) a review of current policy and regulatory challenges facing the Indonesian telecom sector. Prof Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director addressed the first issue in his presentation Enabling Investment: Lessons from the Region [PDF] and Divakar Goswami, Director of Organizational Development & Projects made a presentation, Telecom Reforms in Indonesia: Current Achievements and Challenges [PDF] to address the second issue. The final report from the presentations are available here [PDF]. The Seminar was organized by MASTEL, representing a wide spectrum of ICT industry representatives and by BRTI, the Indonesian regulatory authority. The audience consisted of commissioners from BRTI, policymakers from the Ministry of Communication and Information, representatives from the operators, industry associations and civil society groups.
LIRNEasia Lead Economist, Dr. Harsha de Silva presented findings of a new study on telecom use at the bottom of the pyramid in five emerging Asian countries at the well attended ESOMAR global market research conference, Telecom 2006: Convergence Revolution held in Barcelona from 29 November – 1 December 2006. The study covers India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Thailand. de Silva presented some findings contained in a paper written with LIRNEasia researcher Ayesha Zainudeen on the costs and benefits of access to telecoms and the expected next billion subscribers. A particular finding of interest to local policy makers was that almost a quarter of Sri Lankans at the bottom of the pyramid believe that direct access to a phone (i.
Harsha de Silva, LIRNEasia’s Lead Economist presented a few of the preliminary findings of the Teleuse@BOP (Shoestrings:2) study at CEPA’s (Centre for Poverty Analysis) Annual Symposium on Poverty Research in Sri Lanka at the JAIC Hilton on December 6 2007. The presentation turned around much of the discussion at the Forum, in line with Prahalad’s thinking, taikng a stand that the ‘poor’ should not be seen as a burden to the private sector, but more of a gold mine. The presentation was based on a paper, co-authored with Ayesha Zainudeen, which will be published by CEPA in the coming months. View presentation slides Download paper: Poverty reduction through telecom access at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ – Harsha de Silva & Ayesha Zainudeen  

More on Maldives

Posted by on December 13, 2006  /  53 Comments

Several weeks ago we speculated on why the Maldives, with its tiny population, needed two undersea cables. The answer is that the first cable is a collaboration between the new entrant Wataniya and India’s disruptive competitor, Reliance (through its FLAG unit). This created enormous pressure on the complacent incumbent Dhiraagu, the result being the cable to Colombo. LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO A new fibre optic undersea cable that connects Maldives to Sri Lanka will bring down international call charges from the Indian Ocean coral atoll, officials said Tuesday.Until the cable was commissioned this month, bilateral traffic of 600,000 minutes per month was routed via more expensive satellite links.
Faculty of Humanities, The University of Manchester The BWPI de Silva PhD Scholarship for Sri Lanka Award of this scholarship has been made possible by the generosity of Dr Harin de Silva (BSc Mech Eng 1982). Value of award: Total award = US$90,000 (this will be augmented through BWPI support for fees and maintenance) Criteria: This scholarship is open to Sri Lankan nationals to research poverty and poverty reduction in Sri Lanka. The award seeks to support a Sri Lankan citizen in their intellectual development and it is hoped that the successful candidate will subsequently work on poverty analysis from a Sri Lankan base and push forward the understanding of how to reduce poverty in the country.
See Job description / requirements Please submit a detailed CV, phone/email contacts of two references who can speak to relevant experience/abilities and a sample of research-related writing (less than 10 pages) to the following email: hr@lirne.net by January 7, 2007. Applications can also be mailed to Human Resources, LIRNEasia, 12 Balcombe Place, Colombo 8. Results of the screening (positive or negative) will be notified if an e-mail address is provided. LIRNEasia may make the appointment at the level of a Research Intern depending on the qualifications.
Until 2005, Sri Lanka had one undersea cable (if one did not count the aged SEA-ME-WE 2) and one operator controlling access to it. Then came SEA-ME-WE 4 and the BSNL cables. More cables, but still one operator, SLTL. Now finally, we have operator redundancy. This should be sweet music to the BPO industry.
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