2008 July


A few days ago, we learned that Major General Shahzada Alam Malik (Retd.) had stepped down from the leadership of the Pakistan Telecom Authority. We believe that his seven-year tenure at the helm of the PTA merits an assessment. It begins thus: Pakistan’s recent telecom developments constitute a South Asian success story. From two million in 2002, the number of active mobile SIMs increased to 79 million by end 2007.
This extraordinary book explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity—and reveals that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation—and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control. IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.
Globally, 2.1 billion wireless broadband customers will generate US$784 billion in service revenue by 2015, said  a latest report of UK’s consulting outfit Analysys Mason.  HSPA will support 88% of all wireless broadband consumers at the end of 2008, and its importance will continue. “Despite the increasing availability of LTE and WiMAX, HSPA and HSPA+ will still support 54% of wireless broadband users by the end of 2015,” said the report’s co-author Dr Mark Heath. WiMAX will fail to achieve a significant share of the rapidly developing wireless broadband market, contributing only 2% of global revenue.
Sri Lanka has been enmeshed in conflict for the past 30 years, with just a brief respite during the ceasefire of 2002-05. The LIRNEasia study that is referred to in this post, was conducted in the government controlled areas of the Jaffna district just before the ceasefire ended, de facto. The war still goes on; the phone lines keep being switched off; people are being asked to carry receipts for their SIMs in addition to identity papers. Perhaps this discussion can be taken forward with some good outcomes? ICT infrastructure in conflict zones | L I R N E .
Very US-centric and so pre-knowledge economy, but the main argument is still valid. We need to free up spectrum in a major way. There no need to take cues from the FCC. The reforms can start right here in Asia. Op-Ed Contributor – Why Bandwidth Is the Oil of the Information Economy – Op-Ed – NYTimes.
Risk and the perception of risk are fascinating issues, especially because perception and reality do not always mesh. Here are some links for those who ask about mobile phones causing brain cancer. Findings – 10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List – NYTimes.com 4. Carcinogenic cellphones.
To an ordinary observer the image on left looks like some monkeys but to Nuwan Waidyanatha that is his complex Early Warning System. Monkeys act as sensors and detectors of hazards (aka a leopard) to deer – who would take immediate action for mass evacuation. Again the image on top right look likes a damper to any engineering student, but to Nuwan that is mass evacuation. The figure below might explain it better with the blue line representing a quick but rough evacuation and the red line a smoother one. What does this figure has to do with Broadband QoS?
Nuwan noted that this leads on from the earlier coversation that were had in regard to Early Warning Systems (EWS) and explained why classification is importat for people in this field. This is important mainly for comparisons between countries, institutions and technologies. And so a ranking should be established. Four examples were identified, Community based last mile hazard warning system Traceability of agriculture markets- trying to maximize the profit of the produce. Dam failure EWS Financial EWS- Looks at currency and banking crisis within a country.
Nuwan Waidyanatha will conduct a colloquium on the topic of ‘My spring break in Kunming: Classification of Early Warning Systems on the 29th of July 2008. The Colloquium will focus on the question that came up during one of the LIRNEasia brain storming sessions which was “what can and what can’t the Last-Mile Hazard Warning System do?”; i.e. what are its capabilities and capacities?
“Without question, the book addresses an important and timely issue. The organization of the book around the four pillars of the business environment, the information infrastructure, the innovation system and human resources, is praiseworthy. The book must be commended for bringing up the topic of what should (and should not) be done, as the Sri Lankan economy moves from reliance on agriculture to reliance on services and valued-added agriculture and industry. It contributes to and adds credence to an ongoing discussion on this subject in Sinhala and English in the popular media” This is the first paragraph of the review  Rohan Samarajiva did on ‘Building the Sri Lankan knowledge economy’. The publication was launched sometime back.
The LIRNEasia book has been reviewed in Current Science by Ashok Jhunjhunwala.  Below is the last para. The success and failure of policies and regulations need to be studied under such a backdrop. Each nation would have its specificities, and comparisons between nations may often be difficult. It is this difficult task that the book takes up.
The op-ed piece written up on the basis of one of the LIRNEasia benchmark studies, has been published in the leading Bangladesh newspaper, Daily Star. The data and recommendations thus have been published, in various forms, in the special issue of Himal Southasian, in The Dawn, as a Choices column on LBO, and also flashed by AFP. As a result of the latter, it has got play in a number of publications, including in a Vietnam publication, the Mirror online (Sri Lanka), etc. Telecompk.net has also started a discussion.
China has the largest number of mobile users as a country. It now also has the largest number of Internet users. China Surpasses U.S. in Number of Internet Users – NYTimes.
This is from Lankadeepa online. It quotes Prime Minster Ratnasiri Wickramanayake saying one reason of restricting CMDA phones to be used only in one address (registered one) is to prevent the loss of government revenue from international traffic. He was responding to a query by Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera MP at the parliament. Sri Lanka uses CDMA technology for fixed connections but with signals available anywhere within local loop, or if not been blocked by the operator even outside, it can be converted to a ‘mobile’. Given the distinct sharing behaviour we have seen at BOP, many may use their CDMAs in multiple locations.
Dr Muhammed Yaseen, who served as a Member of the Authority since 2006, has been appointed to succeed Major General R Shahzada Alam Malik (retd.) at the helm of the PTA. LIRNEasia has been an admirer of the massive improvements the Pakistan telecom sector achieved since Chairman Malik’s appointment in 1 March 2002. We wish him well in his future endeavors and thank him for his dynamic service to the sector. We warmly welcome Dr Yaseen.
Indonesia’s telecommunication giants have demanded the government limit the number of new entrants to the industry, citing limited resources and growing investment risk. The Indonesian Cellular Telephones Association (ATSI) chairman Merza Fachys said limited frequency allocations and phone numbers meant there was no room to accommodate new players. “The government must regulate the number of players so as to ensure the sustainability of the industry,” Merza said in his speech at the annual national coordination meeting on telecommunication, information and media held by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Unlimited entry to the industry, he said, would crowd the market, increase competition and generate greater investment risk for existing players. Read the full story in AsiaMedia here.