2007 February


Sri Lanka’s telecom sector soared in 2006 to 7.3 million users, led by a 59% jump in new mobile phone connections on competition and falling call rates, an AFP report said.    Quoting the industry watchdog Sri Lanka Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, the AFP report said despite a waiting list of around 366,000 for fixed-line phone services, mobile phones, including GSM and CDMA systems, had allowed rural residents to get phone services immediately.   The AFP report further said fixed-line subscribers rose to 1.9 million in 2006 from 1.
Reading the reports from Barcelona, one may think that remitting money using the functionalities of the mobile phone is something new. However, it appears that it is a functioning service in the Philippines, the SMS capital of the world.
The ITU has just released Measuring the Information Society 2007: ICT Opportunity Index and World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators. This report includes the annual data on basic telecom indicators, which many rely on for research, writing and policy formulation. Contrary to the title, the data are from 2005, but still, this is one of the few sources of comprehensive data where all countries are represented. This particular report also ranks countries by something called the ICT Opportunity Index. According to this ranking, Zimbabwe (Rank = 127) has greater ICT opportunities than Pakistan (139), India (133) and Sri Lanka (128).
This seems a little flaky, but there is cutting-edge economic theory behind the idea of creating incentives for the private creation of public goods.   Not that we’ll apply quite yet, but it would be interesting to speculate on how one could package some of the work that is being done in telecom to qualify for the poverty reduction prize from X Prize. Silicon Valley Meets ‘American Idol’ With Prizes to Inspire Inventors – New York Times Venture capital firms are considering contests that offer competing engineers and entrepreneurs multimillion-dollar prize purses if they come up with innovative technologies in various industries. The concept is getting an introduction on March 3 at a fund-raiser at Google. The event is intended to raise a chunk of $50 million to operate the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit group that already has awarded $10 million to designers of a private spacecraft.
Another story that reinforces our emphasis on the emerging Asia-Pacific and the Bottom of the Pyramid: LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO Making affordable phones and targeting consumers with smaller budgets have now become priorities for the largest companies in the sector who were all present at this week’s 3GSM trade show in Barcelona. “There are between 2.5 and 2.8 billion people who have a mobile phone: the next billion will come from the high-growth market,” said David Taylor, strategy director for Motorola. The areas representing the most opportunity are Asia, Africa and the Middle East, he said.
At the end of 2006, Asia-Pacific mobile connections passed the 1 billion mark.  The Asia-Pacific reached a 30% penetration rate and is expected to grow by 19% between 2006 and 2007, according to the respected newsletter Wireless Intelligence. India overtook China in terms of growth rate in Q1 2007.  Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia have gained strong momentum over the past few quarters with almost 50 million net additions between 2005 and 2006. Among these top markets, LIRNEasia is active in all but China, a gap we intend to fill shortly.
There is a growing call for the use of open source content standards for all-hazards, all-media alert and notification systems. Content standards such as Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) and others promise to improve the interoperatiblity of hazard information systems at both the internetworking and last-mile stages of distribution. Despite the promise that these standards hold for improved disaster management, there is limited understanding of specific implementation issues and challenges associated with the use of content standards for last-mile alert and notification system. This is especially the case in developing countries, such as Sri Lanka, where community-based hazard information systems are being introduced to complement and extend the functionality of national and regional systems. The Discoveries and Breakthroughs in Science report on “New Disaster Warning Standards” provide the true features of CAP.

GSMA honours Indian government

Posted by on February 14, 2007  /  1 Comments

Barcelona, Feb 13 (bdnews24.com) – The GSM Association (GSMA) has presented its Government Leadership Award 2007 to India for exceptional achievement in mobile communications policy. India has been selected because of its success in establishing a framework of policies and regulations, which have stimulated the growth of mobile telecommunications over the past three years. The latest data from the Indian government shows that India’s mobile operators are now collectively adding six to seven million new subscribers each month. GSMA’s CEO Rob Conway presented the award to Thiru Dayanidhi Maran, India’s minister for communications and information technology.
Inside the LIRNE.NET community, we have for some time been discussing a program of research centered on what we all mobile multiple play, a convergence of services around the transactional capabilities of the mobile phone and its unparallelled connectivity.   Our friend and colleague Abu Saeed Khan is reporting on a major development on these lines from the GSM Congress in Barcelona: :: bdnews24.com :: Spearheaded by a special group of 19 mobile operators with networks in over 100 countries and representing over 600 million customers, GSMA believes the programme could double the number of recipients of international remittances to more than 1.5 billion, while helping to quadruple the size of the international remittances market to more than one trillion dollars by 2012.
Sunday Times Financial Times (Sri Lanka) February 11 2007 Acutally, on how to improve agricultural markets using ICTs…
LINK Public Policy Research Paper No. 8 January 2007 (pre-publication) Steve Esselaar & Alison Gillwald Despite the continued overall growth of the telecommunications sector in South Africa, the full potential of ICT to contribute to the growth and development of the country is not being realised. The fourth South African ICT Sector Performance Review (SPR) seeks to measure and assess some of the recent market developments in South Africa against national policy objectives such as access to services, cost of usage and competitiveness. The full report can be downloaded in pdf format here: 2006 South African ICT SPR
The World Dialogue on Regulation (WDR) Expert Forum on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector and Regulatory Performance Indicators will be held from March 2-3, 2007 at the Changi Village Hotel, Singapore. The event is organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), in partnership with LIRNEasia and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. The forum will bring together National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs), National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) and leading operators from the SAARC and ASEAN countries, and will focus on assessing telecommunications regulatory performance and establishing a sustainable system for measuring and benchmarking ICT sector indicators in developing Asia. For more information about this event, email asia@lirne.net
Hutchison exits India and Vodafone enters.   Will this accelerate Indian mobile growth to Indonesia and Pakistan levels?  No clear evidence of increased investment; new pricing strategies, etc. yet. BBC NEWS | Business | Vodafone buys Indian mobile firm Vodafone has bought a controlling stake in Indian mobile phone firm Hutchison Essar for $11.
Applications for the 8th South Asian Forum for Infrastructure Regulation (SAFIR) Core Course on Infrastructure Regulation have been opened. The course will take place from 1st – 8th April 2007, at Mahaweli Reach Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka. The residential program offers participants the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of regulations pertaining to infrastructure industries and regulatory economics as well as topical issues attendant to those industries, to share their experiences, to develop practical solutions to regional problems. While theory and principles covered are applicable across most infrastructure sectors, special attention will be placed on the following 4: Electricity, Transport, Telecom and Pipeline Industries (water, oil, gas) Organized by LIRNEasia, the course maintains the tradition of teaching excellence which is a hall mark of the annual SAFIR Core Course. More information on registration and discounts for bulk registrations can be found here
LIRNEasia intended the Telecom Regulatory Environment scores to serve as a diagnostic instrument for regulators, policy makers and stakeholders, not exactly a “league table.” However, the news value seems to be in the inter-country comparisons. We are grateful for whatever coverage we get. Businessworld: Pak Betters India The sharp growth in the Indian telecom industry has been talked about for quite sometime. That growth happened after many contentious issues got straightened out over the years at the regulatory level.
With the current growth rate of mobile subscriptions, India is the clear global leader in mobile net additions, but its broadband sector still has not met market expectations. Due to poor fixed line coverage, low PC adoption, and service pricing, broadband service has not been embraced by Indians in the way mobile phones were. However, the ministry of communications and operators intend to change that by labeling 2007 the “Broadband Year,” hoping to reach a 20m broadband subscribers by 2010. With the help of telecom and PC manufacturers and operators’ deep pockets, the government believes their goal can be achieved. Pyramid Research argues that the country’s broadband aspirations will not be achieved for 2007, however it will exceed its 2011 target.
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