2008 April


Sounding rather like the saga surrounding home broadband speeds, a recent survey suggests that mobile broadband users aren’t always getting the maximum speeds advertised. Broadband Expert’s research, based on testing around 1,200 connections, found the average speed of UK mobile broadband is 1.46Mbps. This is around half the speed of the average home broadband speed of 2.95Mbps.
Pakistan’s first global telecommunication congress, TeleCON’2008, opened in Karachi on Tuesday with full-fledged participation from a large number of telecom companies from Pakistan. It was presided by Dr Muhammad Yaseen, member technical, Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) while former founder member PTA, Mian Mohammad Jawed gave keynote address. He appreciated the initiative of the organisers and remarked that there was a need for similar forum to discuss the challenges that lay ahead for the telecommunication sector in Pakistan. Dr Yaseen said the telecom industry in Pakistan had grown tremendously due to the prudent and justifiable policies of the PTA. He said PTA has provided a level-playing field for all players in the sector and due to a robust policy framework, the industry was moving rapidly in the right direction.
An Expert Forum on ICT Sector Indicators and Benchmark Regulation for SAARC Regulatory Authorities will be held in Changi Village Hotel, Singapore on 14 – 15 June 2008 following the 12th LIRNE.net course on Telecom Reform. The Forum will focus on using specific indicators to benchmark performance of the sector as well as the regulatory authority, and using indicator data to improve the performance of both. The latest results from LIRNEasia’s Asian Regulatory Web-site Survey, the Mobile and Broadband Price Benchmarks research and the Broadband Quality of Service Measurement research will be presented at the forum, and will set the background for broader discussion on benchmark regulation. The LIRNEasia developed and IDRC-funded Asian ICT Indicators Database will be introduced and hands-on training on using the database will be provided.
Most Americans are still hesitant about banking with their cellphones and PDAs, but young people are increasingly accepting mobile banking, according to a survey. Serving the needs of tech-savvy customers will be crucial for banks to stay competitive as the collective income of baby boomers’ children is expected to surge over the next 10 years and exceed that of their parents. So far, though most major banks offer mobile banking, 89% of consumers don’t use their cellphones to conduct banking transactions, according to the study by IBM’s retail banking consulting practice. The study found that 21% of consumers ages 18-34 use their cellphones for banking transactions, compared with about 10% of the general population. These numbers, particularly for younger consumers, are expected to grow significantly.
Rohan Samarajiva and Tahani Iqbal will participate at an International Workshop on ICTs and Development: Experiences in Asia, held at the Faculy of Arts and Sciences (Communications & New Media Programme Science, Technology and Society (STS) Cluster), National University of Singapore from 24th – 25th April 2008. Samarajiva will chair a session, where papers will be presented on the Development of Web 2.0 and Social Networking Websites in Thailand, Internet Adoption and Usage among Farmers in China and the Use of ICTs in Rural India. Iqbal will present a paper entitled, “Gender Inequalities in Access and Use of Telecom at the Bottom of the Pyramid?: Findings from a Five Country Study”, based on research findings from the Teleuse@BOP2 study.
Some regular readers of LIRNEasia blog would just love this news. Internet service providers (ISPs) in UK have just a few weeks to sign up to a voluntary code on the promotion of broadband speeds or the industry will face mandatory regulation, the communications watchdog has warned. Attempts to set up a voluntary system providing consumers with accurate information were failing, Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards told a parliamentary select committee. “This is a near-term issue that needs to be dealt with now and we would like to be able to get the industry to sign up within the next few weeks,” he said. BT, the UK’s largest broadband provider, said it backed the plan.
While Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka awaits public comments on its ‘National Backbone Network’ proposed to be installed mostly as a fully government owned infrastructure to provide islandwide broadband links, New Zealand Government says it would be a huge waste of taxpayer money to put $1.5 billion into ultra-fast broadband access. New Zealand’s National Party leader John Key announced the ambitious plan to put broadband into every home and business through fibre cables over the next six years if his party wins the next election. Mr Key said that with the fibre network he wanted, people would be able to use the internet at lightning speed – essential if the country was to increase productivity and remain internationally competitive. But Communications Minister David Cunliffe saw nothing but problems and trouble.
Motorola recently announced an investment in VirtualLogix, a company that lets multiple operating systems run on the same piece of hardware. This means you could have a single phone in your pocket that runs Windows Mobile, the BlackBerry OS, and Google’s Android OS. VirtualLogix is a provider of real-time virtualization. Its technology enables the mobility of applications from the desktop to devices, improves quality of service and security in an open mobile world, and will enable a new generation of dynamic individual user experiences. Motorola and others believe in the technology and decided it was worth investing in.
After two decades of mobile voice services through mobile phones, and nearly a decade of mobile data usage through SMS services, mobile data services (MDS) of a more traditional Internet style is finally on the up in a big way. The m.Net and University of Adelaide study notes that: “It has taken a while, but mobile data services (MDS) use is now disseminating beyond a small number of high level users to the wider market, according to the Wireless data services study 2007.” The study is done on an annual, international basis, and “investigates mobile phone user engagement beyond voice and looks at the current type and levels of MDS, the influencing factors and barriers to the use of MDS, and the use of MDS across global markets.” Read the full story here.
The world’s largest mobile phone company makes roughly two out of every five mobiles sold globally. It said it expected the number of phones sold to increase by 10%, from the 1.14bn phones sold last year. But the Finnish group explained that the overall value of the market would be lower than in 2007 thanks to the weak dollar, the economic slowdown in the US, and “some economic slowdown in Europe”. Shares in the company dropped 10%.
Broadband customers are still experiencing connection speeds less than half those advertised, with the worst offenders being ‘high speed’ products, a study suggests. On average, broadband speeds were just 48 per cent of those advertised, with the figure falling to as low as 26 per cent for high speed packages offering connections of 8Mb/s or more, according to the study. By contrast, customers on 2Mb/s packages experienced average speeds of 1.8Mb – or 88 per cent of the advertised amount, according to broadband-expert.co.
Nokia is positioning its new 6212 handset as a mobile payment device, with users storing credit card information on the device and accessing accounts online directly from the handset. The phone can be set to allow payment only after the user enters a secondary passcode to authorize it. Such e-payment options may require a service subscription with a carrier or merchant, as well as the installation of a secure payment application, Nokia said. The Nokia 6212 classic will be available in the third quarter in parts of Europe and Asia; its estimated price is 200 euro or $316. Read the full story in Informationweek here.
The colloquium notes Lara Alawattegama (LA): Monopoly means ‘a market with a single supplier’ Why a monopoly happens: 1. No close substitutes 2. Legal barriers to entry 3. Resource barriers 4. Unfair competition -predatory pricing Rohan Samarajiva (RS) : Lack of competition leads to monopolies.
Who else would be more qualified to define ‘monopoly’ [mə nóppəlee]than Microsoft? According to MS Encarta, ‘monopoly’ is a situation in which one company controls an industry or is the only provider of a product or service. We believe Lara would enlighten us more when she does the second of the young researcher lecture series scheduled for today (April 15, 2008) at 16:00 hours SLST.  (10:30 hrs GMT) Watch this space. The lecture will be blogged real time.
CellCast Technologies urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tomorrow to fully consider a proven technology, cell broadcast, in the nationwide emergency alert system for cell phones. On Thursday, the FCC is slated to vote on a committee report that did not specify cell broadcast technology. “In the best interest of the general public, the FCC must focus on serving the public safety with a proven technology that can be implemented nationwide immediately,” said CellCast Chief Operating Officer Paul Klein. “We should not wait until 2010 when more lives could be lost to hurricanes, tornados and other disasters or crises.” CellCast Urges FCC to Include Proven Cell Broadcast Technology in National Emergency Alert System for Cell Phones 
Do mobile phones pollute the environment? Sri Lanka’s Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka thinks so. That was why he wants to impose a so called ‘environment tax’ on mobiles, (in fact all phones, but the above newspaper article focuses on mobiles) at two points, when you purchase it and use it. This is on top of the rest of the tax components the mobile users already have to pay. No information to that mobile usage is a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s environment.
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