2007 March


Sahana, an entirely volunteer effort to create technology for managing large-scale relief efforts, is the recipient of the 2006 Free Software Foundation Award for Projects of Social Benefit. Sahana was created by the Lanka Software Foundation, in the wake of the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, to compensate for the devastating consequences of a government attempt to manually manage the process of locating victims, distributing aid and coordinating volunteers.The Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented to a free software project that intentionally and significantly benefits society through collaboration to accomplish an important social task. Sahana is built completely on donated funds and volunteer effort coordinated by Lanka Software Foundation. It has been officially deployed by the governments of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Call for Abstracts: Hazards and Disasters Researchers Meeting The Hazards and Disasters Researchers Meeting, on July 11-12 in Boulder, Colorado (immediately following the 32nd Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop), is requesting submissions of scholarly research on all aspects of hazards and disaster research from all disciplinary perspectives. Please submit extended abstracts for papers electronically to HDRMeeting@gmail.com with “HDRM Abstract” in the subject line. The submission should include the following information for each paper: Author’s (and co-authors’) name, address, telephone number, and email address. Indicate the person that will present the paper.
A new study filed with the USA’s telecoms regulator, the FCC, reports that the regulator’s use of auctions for assigning spectrum licenses could be subject to anti-competitive behavior by incumbent carriers. The announcement about the new study came from M2Z, a company which is seeking to build its own wireless network. Read more.
Rohan Samarajiva and Sujata Gamage |The Information Society – An International Journal, Volume 23 Issue 2, 109 Download article Author Posting. (c) Taylor & Francis, 2007. This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Taylor & Francis for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in The Information Society, Volume 23 Issue 2, March 2007.
The Internet is marvel of decentralized human design.   But this has its own problems.   A group of researchers at Stanford are looking for insights that will be thrown up if they approach the problem of devising a system for communicating, retrieving information and publishing information electronically from scratch.   Fascinating stuff.   Wish them luck!
While development aid and political reform are essential components in poverty eradication, equally important are business models that would engage low-income communities as producers and consumers in their own robust economies. Successful business models–inherently versatile, innovative, and driven by the profit motive–can sometimes tackle development challenges more quickly and effectively than government and aid mechanisms, and are the focus of NextBillion.net. Go to nextbillion.net NextBillion.
Rohan Samarajiva  | LankaBusinessOnline Fixed or Mobile      March 28, 2007 (LBO) – It seems like a no-brainer: A mobile phone is better than a fixed phone, especially in Sri Lanka. The costs of getting a connection are lower: a new phone and SIM can cost as little as LKR 4,000, while SLTL charges around LKR 20,000 for a fixed connection and its competitors charge around LKR 10,000.   Mobile phones are easy to use. They have built in directories and allow texting, though now these features are now available on the fixed CDMA phones as well. Calling people instead of places that people are associated with seems obviously better, unless you don’t want to be reached.
The Indian government held least cost subsidy auction (lowest bid for subsidy is the winner) in two parts to disburse the world’s second largest Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for rolling out mobile services in rural areas across the country. For the purposes of the auction, India has been divided into 81 clusters. Part A of the auction disbursed funds for passive infrastructure like towers and Part B dealt with the actual deployment of mobile services. The bidding has been intense for deployment of mobile services (Part B) and most of the bids were for zero subsidy fund and in some cases negative bids were made! This strongly indicates that mobile operators in India perceive deploying mobile services in India’s rural areas to be commercially viable.
Supriya Shrinate | NDTVProfit.com, India Friday, March 23, 2007 (New Delhi): Sunil Mittal, Anil Ambani and now Arun Sarin may be the fiercest of rivals in the telecom battlefield but there’s one thing that all telecom bosses agree on that. It is the farmers in rural India and fishermen in distant shores, who will drive the next phase of growth for telecom. Little wonder then, networks are being rolled out to tap this bottom of the pyramid (BOP) as it is fashionably called. In fact according to a survey by LIRNEasia, the BOP segment makes about 35 calls on an average every month, which includes both incoming and outgoing calls.
Sonal Desai | CXOToday.com Mumbai, Mar 27, 2007: Mobile penetration will penetrate the homes of bottom or pyramid (BOP) families in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a study instituted by LIRNEasia has found. Titled, “Teleuse on a Shoestring- A Study of the Financially Constrained in Asia,” it interviewed and maintained diaries of respondents from Thailand and Philippines besides the above mentioned countries. A C Nielsen conducted the fieldwork. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada funded the research.
LIRNEasia‘s community involvement project – 3R (reduce-reuse-recycle) will present a Bharata Natyam Recital by Rasika Khanna, on Friday, March 30, 2007, from 7:15-9:15pm at the British School of Colombo Auditorium, 63, Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 8. Garbage dumping and littering are serious problems for all of us. There are various efforts to apply 3R but there is no concerted effort to disseminate information, educate the public, and advocate reasonable policies. The 3R initiative will begin with a newsletter that gives practical tips on 3R for businesses and individuals and later go on to rate municipalities and businesses for their 3R. We also hope to work with municipalities and government agencies to come up with reasonable 3R policies.
telecomasia.net | Mar 05, 2007 A new report has revealed that monthly ARPU is declining globally, but the gap between operators with the world’s highest and lowest monthly ARPU remains huge. The research study from analyst firm TeleGeography showed that based on a data set of more than 130 mobile operators, ARPU fell by an average of 6.4% between September 2005 and September 2006. “Not surprisingly, providers with higher ARPU tended to be in countries with relatively high incomes — predominately in Western Europe and the US,” the report stated.
VRISHTI BENIWAL | The Financial Expresss, India NEW DELHI, MAR 25:  Have you ever heard of Internet? As strange and shocking as this question is the fact that a sizeable chunk of India’s population doesn’t know what Internet is! About 72% people in the lower socio-economic strata of the country have never heard the word ‘Internet’, according to a study whose key findings were recently presented to the Cellular Operators Association of India and Universal Services Obligations Fund. The study will be released next year. [Note: This study, Teleuse@BOP was released in Singapore on 28 February 2007.
VRISHTI BENIWAL | The Financial Express India NEW DELHI, MAR 23:  Over 200 billion telephone users and 7 million subscriber addition a month may paint a rosy picture, but the telecom boom is yet to ring loud in rural India. Believe it or not, 82% people at the bottom of pyramid (BoP) in India use someone else’s phone. Only 9% people in India use their own mobile phones and an equal percentage use their household fixed line phone, according to a yet-to-be-released study ‘Teleuse on a Shoestring’ by a Sri Lanka-based non-profit research organisation LIRNEasia. [Note: This study, Teleuse@BOP was released in Singapore on 28 February 2007.] Read full article | See print article
On March 22nd, LIRNEasia was invited to present the Teleuse@BOP findings to the staff of the Indian USO Fund and interested members of the Telecom Commission.   It was a great honor to share our findings with this knowledgeable audience, knowing that they make the decisions regarding disbursement of the world’s second largest universal service fund. While the slides that were used are by no means the sum total of the findings from the survey, they are the broadest slice of data presented so far.  The discussion ranged from interpretation of the survey findings to whether or not broadband access should be subsidized, a question triggered by the rather shocking findings about the use and knowledge of the Internet at the BOP in India. The presentation slides can be downloaded here.
Dhaka, March 23 (bdnews24.com) — Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus stunned the world by unveiling a poverty alleviation initiative using mobile phone on March 26, 1997. He buys bulk minutes from Grameenphone’s GSM mobile network and resells among the microcredit borrowers in Bangladesh. The industry now recognises such business model as Mobile Virtual Network Operator or MVNO. Yunus and Grameen shared the Nobel Peace Price in 2006.