2007 August


It’s tempting to say “we told you so,” but we’ll give in to temptation. We told you so back in discussions in 2006-06. Municipal Wi-Fi | Reality bites | Economist.com IT WAS supposed to democratise the internet and turn America’s city-dwellers into citizen-surfers. In 2004 the mayors of Philadelphia and San Francisco unveiled ambitious plans to provide free wireless-internet access to all residents using Wi-Fi, a technology commonly used to link computers to the internet in homes, offices, schools and coffee-shops.
In the remote agricultural province of Lao Cai in Vietnam a few shared community phones are being replaced with high-speed WiMAX broadband connections and VoIP telephony for thousands of residents.   In rural Cambodia, a new 3G/UMTS mobile network is being deployed for delivery of high-bandwidth wireless services, including live streaming of mobile TV channels.   In rural India, farmers can monitor crop prices and place orders for goods electronically by visiting broadband “community centers” that are taking root around the country.  All are examples of a “rural revolution” enveloping less-developed countries in Asia and around the world, made possible by advanced telecommunications technologies such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX and 3G.   This revolution is bringing high-speed Internet access and next-generation telephony to millions of users who previously had little or no access to even the most basic telecoms services.
United Arab Emirates company Etisalat began operating in Afghanistan on Wednesday becoming the fifth mobile phone service provider and one of the biggest foreign investors.   With an investment of $300 million, Etisalat’s mobile phone network will initially cover Afghanistan’s main cities. Etisalat, the third-largest Arab telecom firm by market value, joins four other telecommunication companies operating in the country.   These companies have invested some $800 million in the Afghan telecoms sector and the government has earned $100 million from them in the past year in tax and from issuing licences. Read more.
In a move that could enhance competition and spur mergers in an industry waiting to consolidate, India’s telecom regulator TRAI has recommended that there be no limit on the number of players in this sector.   The TRAI also pushed for the relaxation of stringent merger and acquisitions norms, technology neutrality for telecom licences, in addition to suggesting that both GSM and CDMA players pay an entry fee and higher spectrum fee additional 2G radio frequency allocation.   TRAI has called for the setting up of a multi-disciplinary committee consisting of representatives from the department of telecom, the Telecom Engineering Centre, the telecom regulator, the wireless planning and co-ordination wing and operators’ associations be set up to frame the new spectrum allocation criteria, different from the subscriber base-linked policy followed currently. Read more.
Mobixie was designed for mobile users to upload, download and share user-generated content such as games, videos and ringtones. But the students in Iraq have been scanning and posting thier valuable documents in Mobixie to safeguard them. Because the insurgents often kidnap the students and confiscate their passports along with personal documentation, issued by the new Iraqi government. Read more.
Lanka Business Online “By this initiative, we hope to give last mile access to people living in remote parts of the island,” USAID Acting Mission Director for Sri Lanka, Richard Edwards told reporters. “The kiosk will be powered through broadband technology, giving people high speed internet access to expand their knowledge, their education, or to look up new markets or technologies to produce goods and services.” The project brings together Sri Lanka’s biggest mobile phone operator Dialog Telekom, equipment vendor Qualcomm, software giant Microsoft, the National Development Bank and Lanka Orix Leasing Company, who have each chipped in by way of cash or kind. Within the next two months, the project hopes to open Easy Seva centres in Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Habarana, Rikillagaskoda, Weeraketiya, Nuwara Eliya, Tissamaharama, Nawalapitiya, Kekirawa, Devinuwara, Mawanella, Mahiyanganaya, Kegalle and Balangoda. “The locations, are quite remote but we believe people living in these areas are willing to pay for services, though their earning capacity is considered the bottom end of the pyramid,” Dialog’s General Manager Sales and Marketing, Nushad Perera said.
Yahoo has upgraded its free email service to put users in touch with mobile subscribers.  The improved platform allows users to exchange text messages with mobile phones and comes as the portal experiments with making its Mail application “a stickier experience”.   It offers a trio of contact options including basic email, Web chat and the transmission of text messages to mobile.   The text-to-mobile feature is initially available in the US, Canada, India and the Philippines but will expand to a further 21 other markets within next six weeks.   Mail users simply type-in a phone number to the email address field to send a text message to wireless friends – although some carriers have already announced they will charge for delivery.
A comparison of the customer numbers for China and India for the end of July 2007 yields some interesting results.   Although in real terms China is still by far the largest mobile market in the world, with 491 million subscribers to India’s 189 million at the end of July, the Indian market continues to outpace the Chinese market in terms of growth.   The figures are somewhat skewed by the fact that the AUSPI, one of India’s regulatory bodies, has moved to including all Wireless Local Loop (WLL) customers in its definition of Mobile, as Reliance did some time back.   This move has positively impacted numbers by just over 4.7 million, which goes some way towards explaining the astonishing 12.
The growing importance of mobiles is illustrated by the fact that 14% of American households do not have fixed phones; while only 12.3% have no mobiles.    This trend which started in Finland has now spread to the bastion of the PSTN where for decades local calls from the fixed phone were free (both incoming and outgoing) compared with having to pay for both on mobile.   Competition and bundles of “free” minutes seems to have done the trick. Cellphone-Only Homes Hit a Milestone – New York Times From September 2006 to April 2007, the percentage of Americans in cellphone-only households for the first time overtook the percentage in landline-only households, according to Mediamark Research, a firm that has been tracking such data since the mid-1980s.
About 150,000 people subscribe to cell phone service each month in Afghanistan and there’s “no end in sight” to the growth, the country’s communications minister said Tuesday.  Afghan economy is predominantly rural, and trade and industry are badly hampered by crumbling roads and chronic electricity shortages. Not including the illicit trade in opium, the nation’s few exports include dried fruit and carpets.  But like in other developing nations, cell phone service providers have been doing brisk business, bringing communication to poor villagers who until four years rarely, if ever, used a telephone.  “In Afghanistan, the majority of our people will be connected through mobile phones,” Sangin told The Associated Press.
Anam Mobile, a premium SMS service provider, says that global mobile operators are losing out on as much as €3.6 (US$4.9) billion of revenue per year through lost opportunities to create value-added SMS messages.   The €3.6 (US$4.
In the South Asian region, Pakistan has taken the lead in introducing mobile number portability.   Who will be second?   As the story below states, this takes some time and planning.   LIRNEasia will shortly post a report on the MNP workshop conducted in Islamabad by the PTA last week.  :: bdnews24.
I guess this is a lesson in the value of redundancy. :: bdnews24.com :: The Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar fibre optic transmission link with the country’s only submarine cable was back up after about 10 hours of disruptions through Monday, an official with the BTTB said. The breakdown of the link created “congestion” in the overseas phone and disrupted internet services. The transmission link came back up at 00:25am Tuesday after it snapped at 2:30pm Monday, according to Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board.
Japan planning world’s first nationwide earthquake warning system – International Herald Tribune It’s still beyond the reach of science to predict exactly when an earthquake will strike, but Japan will soon get the next-best thing — televised warnings that come before the shaking starts. In an ambitious attempt at protecting large populations from seismic disaster, Japan’s Meteorological Agency and national broadcaster are teaming up to alert the public of earthquakes as much as 30 seconds before they hit, or at least before they can bring their full force down on populated areas. The system — the first of its kind in the world — cannot actually predict quakes, but officials say it can give people enough time to get away from windows that could shatter, or turn off ovens and prevent fires from razing homes. Powered by ScribeFire.

Euro CPR calls for papers

Posted by on August 27, 2007  /  0 Comments

ECPR 2008: Innovations in communications: The role of users, industry, and policy Seville 31 March – 1 April Abstracts for analytical papers are invited on the topic of ‘Innovations in communications: The role of users, industry and policy’.
The article below talks about micro payments in the context of almost everyone having computers, Internet access, credit cards, etc.   What we are talking about is m-payments (m for mobile, not micro) in a world where those assumptions don’t hold.   But there may be ideas we can pick up from this discussion. In Online World, Pocket Change Is Not Easily Spent – New York Times The idea of micropayments — charging Web users tiny amounts of money for single pieces of online content — was essentially put to sleep toward the end of the dot-com boom. In December 2000, Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in New York University’s interactive telecommunications program, wrote a manifesto that people still cite whenever someone suggests resurrecting the idea.