Click on the links to see the full articles covering LIRNEasia’s book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks.
Rural connectivity is now the focus of every telecommunication player in the country. Almost all stakeholders, from handset manufacturers to service providers, believe that the next wave of growth is in the rural areas.”However, India’s roll out (of telecom services) in rural areas has been slow. BSNL has the backbone infrastructure but is not yet ready to share it with private players,” he added.
BSNL should be made to share its fibre and access networks, Samarajiva said. With shared infrastructure and innovation in marketing, costs can be brought down further, he said. Moreover, telecom companies should also shift their focus from calculating average revenue per user (Arpu) to average margin per user (Ampu), he added.
Book also discussed at Yahoo Tech Group forum.
At a time when GSM operators, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are at an imbroglio over spectrum allocation, Prof Rohan Samarajiva’s book, “ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks”, makes for a timely read. In Chennai for the launch of the book, Samarajiva, Executive Director of LIRNEasia and former Director General of Telecommunications in Sri Lanka, spoke to Liffy Thomas.
BOOK EXTRACT: ‘Subsidising The Smart Way’ – Business World Magazine (India)The Latin American experience holds lessons for the development of rural telephony in Asia, says Harsha De Silva
The supply of telephony has traditionally been skewed towards the urban affluent as opposed to the rural poor. The literature describes this bias as having been caused by a ‘market efficiency gap’ and an ‘access gap’. The market efficiency gap is the difference between what markets achieve under existing conditions and what they can achieve if barriers are removed. This gap can be bridged through effective competition, private provision of services, and market-oriented policies and regulations that create a level playing field for new entrants. The access gap refers to people and places that remain beyond limits of the market due to inadequate income levels or its skewed distribution. Bridging this gap needs subsidies to encourage service providers to enter these areas.
WHILE the common perception remains that India has the lowest mobile phone tariffs, other countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have lower tariffs than India, Rohan Samarajiva, executive director, Lirne Asia, said on Tuesday.
Talking about his new book ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia – Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks, he said, when compared to all these countries, India’s cost is much higher.
Policies and regulations are the main bottlenecks blocking the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in India, according to Prof Ashok Jhujhunwala, Telecom and Networks (TeNet) Group, IIT, Madras.
Releasing the book ‘ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks’, a collection of articles edited by Rohan Samarajiva and Ayesha Zainudeen, ICT experts, here on Sunday, Prof Jhunjhunwala said any technological problems associated with ICT could be sorted out by scientists within two to three years. “But the policy-makers and regulators fail to move ahead with the times. We are living in an era when things which were socially desirable once have become commercial to the core,” the professor said. He pointed out that ICT has the potential of helping developing countries tackle a wide range of health, social, and economic problems.
“While urban India is marching rapidly ahead, rural India is being left behind. We have to use ICT to accelerate the growth of rural India,” said Dr Jhunjhunwala. Elaborating on the pace of growth of ICT, Dr Jhunjhunwala said the next two years will see payments through mobile phones catching up all over the country.
“Instead of going to ATM centres or Banks, you can have cash transactions through your mobile phones,” he said. Dr Samarajiva said the book was a step forward in identifying the reasons for under-connectivity in emerging Asia. “The book itself is an introduction, not a conclusion. It reports the findings of a cutting edge demand-side survey of telecom use at the ‘bottom of a pyramid’ in India and Sri Lanka,” said Dr Samarajiva, a former director general of Sri lanka Telecommunications.
He said there is enough scope to bring down telecom charges. “It is the outdated policies of the governments in the region which are playing havoc with the communication revolution. This is aggravating the digital divide which will lead to major catastrophe,” he said.
The publication of the book was co-funded by the IDRC and Social Science Research Council (SSRC).
More information on the book can be found on the book page.