2007 October


Indonesia has learnt lessons from dealing with a string of earthquakes, but still can do more to reduce the impact of such disasters by quake proofing buildings and deploying more tsunami buoys, officials said on Wednesday. An official at Indonesia’s National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management said there had been progress in educating people since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that followed a huge quake off Aceh province and killed nearly 170,000 Indonesians. Read more Reuters Alertnet | Indonesia disaster preparedness a work in progress
If I.T. Merged With E.T. – New York Times To appreciate that potential, look at how much is being done with just car batteries, backup diesel generators and India’s creaky rural electricity grid.
The Lakbima newspaper (30 October 2007) reports that Central Environmental Authority Chairman and Jatika Hela Urumaya politician Udaya Gammanpila is advocating a “green tax” on mobile phones, tyres, electronic equipment and asbestos. It appears that the JHU has a vendetta against the 6 million plus mobile users in Sri Lanka. They originated the idea of taxing mobiles to pay for government expenses (an amended law to this effect was enacted in September 2007); and now they want to impose another tax, this time in the name of the environment. Why not on fixed phones? On computers?
In internal discussions, I had expressed skepticism about Facebook/Linked In type services for anything other than social interactions.  But it looks like I am being slowly proven wrong! In India, Poverty Inspires Technology Workers to Altruism – New York Times Manohar Lakshmipathi does not own a computer. In fact, in India workmen like Mr. Manohar, a house painter, are usually forbidden to touch clients’ computers.
 LIRNEasia Research Fellow and Associate Professor of Law at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) , Joseph Wilson, Ph.D., has been nominated to be a member of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP). For more information, see news item in Daily Times, Pakistan
On October 25, 2007, LIRNEasia’s Rohan Samarajiva, Nuwan Waidyanatha and Natasha Udu-gama traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh to present findings from the “Evaluating Last-Mile Hazard Information Dissemination” (HazInfo) pilot project in the first international dissemination workshop for HazInfo entitled “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-Based Last-Mile Warning Systems” at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) through its Bangladesh Network Office for Urban Safety (BNUS) directed by Dr. Mehedi Ahmed Ansary. The report summarizes the workshop and its sessions. Overall, the workshop was a success in familiarizing the Bangladeshi audience with the HazInfo pilot project and meeting the objectives.
India’s mobile phone market has become the fastest growing in the world, with Indians adding nearly six million new connections every month. As Anjana Pasricha of VoA reports from New Delhi, much of the growth is among low-income consumers. Telecom companies are going all out to woo such customers, offering them deals that make cell phones affordable for even those who earn as little as $125 a month. Handsets are available for $45. Users can buy new pre-paid phone cards for less than 50 cents.

The Chinese are coming

Posted by on October 27, 2007  /  1 Comments

The stunning impact of the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers observed in South Asia in as early as 2005 is now being observed in the balance sheets of the old established equipment suppliers.   Telecoms-equipment makers | Toughing it out | Economist.com First, the market for wireless networks is beginning to mature. After years of bumper profits, telecoms operators are facing more competition and are having to cut costs. In America carriers have delayed purchases, which explains much of what went wrong for Alcatel-Lucent.
New Delhi, (PTI): Cellular operators in the country have asked the Government to go slow on devising regulations on Mobile TV, saying that the technology is “nascent” and the customer behaviour still uncertain. “This is a nascent business and therefore, no decision should be taken which will restrict the development of the market or foreclose technological options,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has told the telecom and broadcast regulator TRAI. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had last month issued a consultation paper for the stakeholders on issues relating to mobile television. “Various technology solutions are being tested in the global marketplace. It is also important to recognise that customer behaviour and demands are also evolving,” the operators said.
Our friend and colleague from TVEAP, Nalaka Gunawardene, writes from Geneva: Message to aid workers: Go mobile — or get lost! « Moving Images, Moving People! It might be that aid workers are all frustrated computer geeks…because all their talk was about collaborative and networking software, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the use of really high resolution (read: oh-so-sexy) satellite imagery, and the latest analytical tools — all requiring high levels of skill and personal computers with loads of processing power. But no mobile phones! This was too much to let pass, so I raised the question: did you guys even consider this near ubiquitous, mass scale technology and its applications in crisis and disaster situations?
Foreign telecom investors, who hold significant stake in India telecom companies, are exploring the possibility of joining hands and initiating an arbitration proceeding against the government of India and department of telecom (DoT) in foreign courts against the new telecom policy. The move comes as some of the foreign investors say the that the new policy announced last week, which allows dual technology “favoured only CDMA players, especially, Reliance Communications”. Besides, the new policy has also enhanced subscriber-linked criterion for spectrum allocation by multiple times – this implies, operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular cannot get additional spectrum in their existing circles unless they increase their subscriber base between two-six times, a process that will take anywhere between 18-48 months. This has also led to the pending applications of all GSM players being disqualified. The new norms, if implemented, will hit the expansion plans of all telcos and also lead to a heavy increase in the capex for the next couple of years.
The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) Thursday announced cut in call tariffs, line rent, and transfer fees for the board’s land phones effective from November 1, said a telephone board release on Thursday. The nationwide dialling charge has been halved to Tk 1.5 a minute on 30-second pulses; peak and off-peak hour billing has been withdrawn. The new system has also withdrawn the distance factor for call charges. Calls between upazilas of a district will now be treated as local calls.
India’s finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Monday in Washington, “Regulation must stay one step ahead of innovation”.  He said the developed countries’ financial authorities are not keeping up with the new and complex financial market instruments that lay behind recent credit market turmoil.  “Thanks to the present crisis which originated in the advanced economies … I think developed economies will listen more to the developing economies’ point of view,” Chidambaram remarked.  “In the name of innovation, regulators or governments in the advanced economies have fallen behind the curve.” The time has come for the developed world to attend to its own problems, and stop lecturing emerging economies about what is right and what is wrong, he said.
The article below (issued to mark International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction, 11 days late) says that the manner in which warning are communicated “typically disadvantage women.” The “evidence” or illustration used to support this broad claim is strained, to say the least. Our experience with the HazInfo project in Sri Lanka was quite the opposite. It will be interesting to see what others think. OneWorld South Asia Home / News:Opinion & Comment – Disaster lessons from the past Early warning systems are critical to reducing the impact of floods, droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters.
Rural BPO at Mahavilachchiya received wide publicity yesterday, with several local newspapers prominently highlighting the to-be-success story like Sunday Times did below in a first page half page article, and a finance editorial. BPO in the Anuradhapura backwoods IT rumble in the jungle What puzzles us is why some of these articles (Not the Sunday Times story) referred to the venture as a ‘corporate responsibility’ (an euphemism for ‘charity’) of John Keels Holdings (JKH), a top business conglomerate in Sri Lanka. When Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) launched e-Choupal chain in India, nobody branded it ‘corporate responsibility’. It was an online window for its rural suppliers of first tobacco and later other agricultural/aquaculture produce like soya, coffee, and prawns, to interact directly with the company. It was part of ITC business and definitely not charity.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will auction licenses to operate two interconnection exchanges (ICX) and three International Gateway (IGW) facilities on November 22. Outbound PSTN and mobile calls will first terminate in the ICX. Then the calls will be processed in the IGW followed by getting routed to overseas via BTTB’s submarine cable station. Similar path will be followed for the inbound overseas calls. Foreign investments and joint ventures are strictly prohibited.