2008 March


Cubans are to be allowed unrestricted access to mobile phones for the first time, in the latest reform announced under new President Raul Castro. In a statement in official newspaper Granma, state telecom monopoly ETECSA said it would offer mobile services to the public in the next few days. Some Cubans already own mobile phones, but they have had to acquire them via a third party, often foreigners. Cuba’s rate of cell phone usage remains among the lowest in Latin America. Now Cubans will be able to subscribe to pre-paid mobile services under their own names, instead of going through foreigners or in some cases their work places.
TRAI announced last Thursday(27/03/2008) that ADC (Access Deficit Charge) will be completely removed from April 1. LIRNEasia was the only non-Indian entity that sent responses to the TRAI consultation paper no. 2/2008 dated 21st January 2008 on Access Deficit Charge (ADC). Here, as the response to the first question LIRNEasia said We agree with phasing out of the ADC. Our work on the subject in 2004-05 led us to advocate this same position by questioning if the ADC was merely ‘a politically motivated tax on private operators to protect the incumbent, its employees and its copper-wire access network during a very long transition to competition.

Elephantine wastage

Posted by on March 27, 2008  /  8 Comments

Last week, Lankadeepa, the largest selling daily in Sri Lanka, published this photo of elephants eating the unsold vegetables at Dambulla econimic centre. The waste: 25 tons. The loss: entirely to farmers, according to Lankadeepa, as the vendors purchase them on credit and pay only for sold quantities. Primary wastage in vegetables and fruits is estimated to be more than 40% of the output in Sri Lanka. In other agri products it is more than 20% (Devagiri, 2005) While the reasons can vary, there is no doubt proper planning and management can reduce it.
23/03/08: Mobile phone service costs in Sri Lanka are cheap, even for the poor (Sinhala), Ravaya, Sri Lanka 25/03/08: Mobile is cheaper in Sri Lanka, even for the poor, The Daily News, Sri Lanka Two recent studies have found that Sri Lanka is among four countries that offer the most affordable mobile services to the poor in emerging Asia and the world. The first study conducted the LIRNEasia, a regional policy and regulation think tank, has found that the costs of using mobile telecom services are among the lowest in South Asia for all types of users. For the low user, essentially the poorer user, the average monthly cost of using a mobile in Sri Lanka is as low as US$ 3.83 per month if using prepaid. Sri Lanka came in fourth place in the affordability rankings for low users, not too far behind Bangladesh (USD2.
LIRNEasia’s practice on research –> policy Rohan Samarajiva The research that LIRNEasia does will never get a Nobel Prize.  We work on applied research topics that are theoretically informed, but involve for the most part close engagement with what is actually happening on the ground in some country, preferably one that is in Emerging Asia.  This allows not only a focus on policy and regulation as actually practised (a signature of our work), but also more effective communication to policy-makers using analogies. However, this does not mean that we do not generate new knowledge.  Aggressive interrogation of applied research allows us to abstract certain concepts and methods that are of general applicability.
Sri Lanka agriculture could do with dose of IT – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Greater use of information technology in Sri Lanka’s largely subsistence agriculture sector will help both farmers and consumers alike by reducing costs, a researcher has said. Harsha De Silva, lead economist at LIRNEasia, a think tank, said a system using IT that addresses the information needs from the decision making phase through the growth and sale of agricultural products will help balance the welfare of both consumers and farmers. “ICT (information and communications technology) can be used to reduce the information and observable transaction costs to create efficiencies in agricultural markets,” de Silva said. “And if we can create efficiencies in agricultural markets, we can create welfare on both sides of the equation,” he told a recent seminar on the role of ICT in agriculture. “The core will definitely have to be a system that marries the decision-making and selling and that is where ICT will take agriculture markets from this point on and that is where we see some variants of commodity exchanges developing.
Beyond Tunis: Changing Policy Rohan Samarajiva Government is about the sustenance of hope. Yet in too many places, government is about killing hope: “you can’t make it because you’re poor/ your ethnicity is wrong / you aren’t from the right school.” When hope is dead, when the pie looks like it’s not expanding, and the game is zero-sum, the path that remains is hatred. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) shake things up. Not necessarily for the better; but with prodding of the right kind and possibly some luck and happenstance, the equilibrium can be broken in a positive way.
Sri Lanka using customs authorities to censor academics: report – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Another book by Rohan Samarajiva, from LirneAsia, a Colombo-based regional policy think tank, had been detained by customs from December. Samarajiva’s book, “ICT infrastructure in emerging Asia, Policy and Regulatory roadblocks” released by the Indian unit of academic publishing house, Sage, was launched in India in December. Sri Lanka;s customs chief Sarath Jayathilake was quoted in the report as saying that the detention was not brought to his attention and he was not aware why the books were seized. “We usually detain these books if it’s a matter of security and we refer them to Defence (Ministry) or the Government Information Department,” Jayathilake was quoted as saying. The LirneAsia publication had a chapter on telecommunications usage in the Jaffna peninsular.
Mobile Benchmark Studies in South Asia and Latin America | L I R N E . N E T DIRSI’s study on mobile price and affordability also adapts the OECD price baskets to compare the monthly costs of using mobiles in six Latin American countries. The Latin American baskets take into consideration call and SMS volumes and usage data as specified in the OECD methodology,[5] but excludes initial connection charges. The DIRSI study also does not report data on postpaid or indicate whether different MoUs have been applied to prepaid and postpaid. Despite differences in methodology, it is interesting to note the rather large differences in the monthly costs between users in South Asia and Latin America; even though the former takes into account a broader set of costs.
Hopes for Wireless Cities Fade as Internet Providers Pull Out – New York Times Part of the problem was in the business model established in Philadelphia and mimicked in so many other cities, Mr. Settles said. In Philadelphia, the agreement was that the city would provide free access to city utility poles for the mounting of routers; in return the Internet service provider would agree to build the infrastructure for 23 free hotspots and to provide inexpensive citywide residential service, including 25,000 special accounts that were even cheaper for lower-income households. But soon it became clear that dependable reception required more routers than initially predicted, which drastically raised the cost of building the networks. Marketing was also slow to begin, so paid subscribers did not sign up in the numbers that providers initially hoped, Mr.
There were no press invitations/news releases for our event on March 18, as we were only releasing preliminary data. LBO was perhaps the only media interested. Their report was not hundred percent correct saying the SLT (2M/512k) speeds were slower compared to comparable Dialog Broadband package always (They showed more or less on par performances in Dec 2007) but sans that see them presenting a fairly accurate picture . Extracts: Sri Lanka’s internet access quality through broadband within the local boundary is above regional thresholds but sparse local content drives users to access overseas sites at slower speeds, researchers said. The local speeds within Sri Lanka is comparatively higher to what users experience when accessing international web sites, web pages or servers that are located overseas.
Starting a business in Sri Lanka is not the easiest task in the world but how far that impedes Sri Lanka’s entry to global knowledge economy? This is one of the key questions posed by the World Bank publication The report identifies the business environment; information infrastructure; an innovation system; and human resources as four pillars of the knowledge economy. Challenges faced by Sri Lanka in becoming a knowledge economy are examined and the report proposes possible ways that Sri Lanka could move forward to build its knowledge economy under the country’s development strategy as outlined in the Mahinda Chinthana. ‘Building Sri Lanka’s Knowledge Economy’ to be launched Tuesday March 25, 2008 at 4th Floor, DFCC Bank Auditorium 73/5, Galle Road Colombo 3. LIRNEasia is happy to be a partner in publicizing this report perhaps for the first time seriously SWOTs Sri Lanka against similar countries and points out what it can learn from others.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, resident of Sri Lanka, citizen of the United Kingdom, and man of the universe, passed away on the morning of the 19th of March. His was a life well lived. He will be remembered. Sir Arthur imagined what the world could be.
Arthur C. Clarke, 90, Science Fiction Writer, Dies – New York Times Mr. Clarke was well aware of the importance of his role as science spokesman to the general population: “Most technological achievements were preceded by people writing and imagining them,” he noted. “I’m sure we would not have had men on the Moon,” he added, if it had not been for H. G.
The State of “Broadband” in Sri Lanka – Take 1 « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) Lirneasia’s work (in particular their BOP research, on which I have still to write on in this blog) has helped me more than any other organisation to justify my on-going work with citizen journalism and new media as a means through which one can strengthen democratic governance, peace and fundamental rights. Years ago I began work on ICT4Peace with the hunch that mobile devices / phones would change the way in which citizens communicate with governance and governance mechanisms in the swabhasha, and that wireless internet access / cloud computing and diminishing costs of access would make them producers of content instead of passive recipients and consumers of content dished out to them by e-government initiatives with a downstream emphasis. It’s heartening to see research from Lirneasia supporting the validity of these early assumptions and my continuing work in ICT and peacebuilding. Powered by ScribeFire.
At last report, Hutch Sri Lanka had an ARPU of around USD 3. Sri Lanka Hutch subscribers double in 2007 – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Subscribers of the Sri Lanka mobile unit of Hutchison Telecom doubled to more than a million in 2007, while revenue growth topped 50 percent, the group said in a statement. Total subscribers had increased by 104 percent to 1,141,000 in 2007 while revenue measured in Hong Kong dollars grew 52.4 percent 189 million dollars (2.6 billion Sri Lanka rupees).