2008 September


He did not mean LIRNEasia specifically, but when the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) guru Richard M. Stallman (RMS) says CLOUD COMPUTING IS WORSE THAN STUPIDITY – certainly we are in. So just cannot let it pass without comments. Not that we are offended. Cloud computing is not our religion – it is just an experiment – part of our research.
The number of voice calls being made has remained steady over the past two years, but text messages sent and received have increased by a staggering 450 percent. At the end of 2007, text messaging had just overtaken voice calls 218 to 213. But by the end of the second quarter of this year, an average mobile phone subscriber placed or received 204 calls, compared with sending or receiving 357 text messages. Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 now send or receive 1,742 messages per month, compared to the second-highest age group, 18 to 24 year olds, who send and receive about 790 messages. Read the story in Wired News or New York Times.
Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for U.S. president, mentioned broadband rollout as one of his top priorities during a debate Friday evening, bringing applause from several groups promoting universally available broadband as a key part of a turn-around in the U.S. economy.
LIRNEasia’s Executive Director, Rohan Samarajiva, is a candidate in the 2008 elections of the International Communication Association (ICA); he is being considered for a position on the Board of the ICA, representing West Asia. Visit the election page.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission is asking the mobile operators to pay Tk. 112 crore (US$16.23 million) for each MHz of 2G spectrum.  But the mobile operators don’t want to pay that amount. “Mobile operators once enjoyed frequency benefits free in Bangladesh, but it should not be,” said Major General Manzurul Alam (rtd), chairman of BTRC told the media.
Preconference workshop at the 2009 conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) | 20-21 May 2009, Chicago, Illinois, USA | Download Call for Papers (pdf) Mobile phones are becoming increasingly important in bringing people into the Information Society.  It is widely accepted that the inhabitants of the future household will carry mobile devices that will be capable of voice and data communication, information retrieval and forms of entertainment consumption. Mobiles are now (and will increasingly become) payment devices that can also send, process and receive voice, text as well as images; in the next few years they will also be capable of information-retrieval and publishing functions normally associated with the Internet. Through such services and applications, industry experts predict that many in emerging markets will experience the Internet, or ‘elements’ of the Internet for the first time through a mobile phone, rather than a PC; mobile payments, mobile social networking, SMS voting are just a few examples of some of these services and applications. Emerging markets appear to be following a different trajectory from developed markets; while the latter are moving forward via triple- and quadruple-play scenarios, the former are moving on paths that involve mobile phones as the key […]
Natasha Udu-gama has been invited to represent LIRNEasia at the Second International United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response  (UN-SPIDER) Bonn Workshop: “Disaster Management and Space Technology – Bridging the Gap” in Bonn, Germany, from the 13th to 15th October 2008. Natasha will make a presentation on, ‘Last Mile Hazard Information Dissemination’ at a session entitled, ‘Contribution of space-based technologies to existing and proposed Early Warning Systems’. This session will examine how public-private partnerships (PPP) centered on space-based technologies can enable the development, establishment and embedding of early warning systems. The event is organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), with the aim of providing a platform for brainstorming and in-depth discussion among decision-makers and experts from both the space technology and disaster management communities, academia and private companies. The UN-SPIDER was established as a programme of the UNOOSA, with the aim of providing universal access to all countries and relevant international and regional organizations to space-based information and services relevant to disaster management.
LIRNEasia’s sister organization, The Center for Communication, Media and Information Technologies (CMI), of the Copenhagen Institute of Technology (CIT), Aalborg University, Denmark, will host its First International Conference on Converging Mobile Media on 28 November 2008. Previous conferences have been held by the Center for Information and Communication Technologies (CICT), and the 2008 conference marks the start of a new research center at CIT of Aalborg University with an increased focus on the convergence of communication, media and information technologies and on new media opportunities. Mobile Media includes all kinds of new media on mobile devices, e.g. mobile internet and mobile television.
According to TelecomTV, TeliaSonera is acquiring controlling interests in Spice Telecom, the second mobile operator in Nepal and Applifone, the fourth largest operator in Cambodia. This is an intriguing development from a company many thought was withdrawing from the South Asian region.  A few years ago there were well publicized negotiations to sell its stake in Sri Lanka’s Suntel, which is believed to have failed for the lack of a high-enough bid. TeliaSonera and its predecessor entities have not shown the nimbleness of its Nordic competitor, Telenor which has strong positions in South and South East Asian countries.  One hopes it will.
Grameenphone has sealed a deal with the postal department to boost its revenue by going deeper in rural areas through the postmen working in about 8,300 post offices in Bangladesh. Initially, the rural postmen will sell 24,000 prepaid mobile connections to the very remote places. The mailmen in such places are often the only gateway to the world beyond the horizon. They will also top up the customers’ accounts with small denominations. In return the low-paid rural mailmen as well as the ailing postal department of Bangladesh will make money out of every transaction.
The regulatory history has four phases, the first which was from 1964 to the 1989. PTT was established in 1964, this was a forerunner of DGPT. In 1985 DGPT gave operating licenses and were removed from the government budget. The second phase was from 1989 to 1999. The new Act of Telecom was established in 1989 that established DGPT as the policy maker and regulator.
Deploying 3G services using UMTS900 may create 70 per cent CAPEX and OPEX savings for mobile operators, says a recent case study on the exprience of Elisa Corporation of Finland, released by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. Widely used by GSM systems throughout Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, the use of the 900 MHz band lowers the number of cell sites needed to cover rural and suburban areas. Another report of GSA says on May 6, 2008 AIS launched UMTS 900 in Chiangmai, Thailand in 900 MHz spectrum. Expansion to Bangkok and other major cities is planned for Q1 2009. Regulator NTC is reported to have authorized DTAC to deploy UMTS in 850 MHz spectrum, also planned in Q1 2009.
Results for Indonesia in LIRNEasia’s Telecom Regulatory Environment survey show an interesting trend. Unlike their counterparts in other countries (Bangladesh, India, Maldives Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand) Indonesia telecom experts have given marks so low for different aspects of their regulatory environment that none of the categories, in any three sectors, meet the average of 3. (The options were from 1 to 5, 1=extremely unsatisfied, 5=excellent service) The one comes nearest is the score for Market Entry in the mobile sector (there are nine players in the market – eight national, one regional) but that too miss the average by 0.05 points. The results do not show a change from the previous (2006) scores.
Proposals to slash the cost of using mobile phones abroad, for text, data and voice calls, could become law next July following a vote in Brussels. The European Parliament is to vote on whether roaming costs for text messages should be capped. The cost of sending a message is expected to eventually fall by 60% from an average of 23 pence to 9 pence. Voice calls would fall from 36 to 27 pence a minute and customers would be able to set limits on data downloads. A reluctant mobile phone industry first had limits on its roaming charges imposed by the EU in September 2007.
Conducted by Miraj Khaled. Bangladesh has had a monopoly since 1989. The sector was opened in 1996. The Telecom Act was enacted in 2001. The regulator was established under this Act.
In its 2005-06 budget (Khaleda Zia) the Bangladesh government imposed a regressive Taka 900 tax on each SIM that was issued.   We describe the tax as regressive because, if it was passed on to customers, it would hurt the low-user segment (generally the poorer segment) of the market more, because it’s a fixed tax that does not vary with use. The mobile operators did not quite understand what the government wanted to do and decided to absorb the tax.  They made various pleas and protests and got the tax reduced to Taka 800.  Finally, in 2008, they decided they had enough and decided to pass on most of the tax to customers.