2008 October


It appeared that convergence was high on the agenda of Sri Lanka’s telecom operators. SLT introduced IPTV and Dialog put together a whole set of services including a satellite TV service and purchased a terrestrial license as well. There was talk of mobile TV being introduced. The new TV regulatory regime introduced surreptitiously as regulations under an archaic 1982 Act will to put a stop to many of these plans, if the government manages to defend it from its many opponents and the difficult-to-predict Supreme Court. Dialog for example may have to exit the satellite and terrestrial TV businesses altogether, because only public companies with majority Sri Lankan ownership can even apply for these licenses.
The Malaysian government is drafting new regulation which would closely monitor the Quality of Service (QoS) of the country’s operators. It is expected to force operators to deliver on any promises they make in marketing material. Malaysia’s telecoms minister said the government will not accept any excuses from operators – assurances operators made their best efforts will not be good enough. He also said the regulator would be asking three of the four companies which had been granted Wimax licenses why they had not begun offering the service.
Sri Lankan fixed access provider Lanka Bell said it would pay subscribers for incoming overseas calls at the rate of 50 cents for every minute, regardless of duration, country of origin or the number of calls received. The company, in a statement, described the offer as passing on of the benefits of its three billion rupee investment to connect Sri Lanka to the FLAG undersea fibre optic cable network owned by India’s Reliance group. Full story here. This should make it easier for the Sri Lanka regulator to bring down termination charges for calls from within the SAARC, and implement the SAARC Colombo Declaration.
LIRNEasia’s Executive Director, Rohan Samarajiva (Ph.D.) has been elected as a Board Member at Large in the International Communication Association (ICA) on a three year term, effective from the close of the 2009 conference of the ICA, due to take place on May 21-25 2009in Chicago (Announcement). ICA is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication. The ICA is over 50 years old, begining as a small association of U.
“I came more to learn from you; than to teach” was the message I passed before my two presentations with Sujata. Thanks Fusion/Telecentre.org for the opportunity. The three days spent with 200+ telecenter operators from eight provinces in Sri Lanka was a worthy investment. One does not interact with so many ground level ICT4D practitioners every day.
In the end, Microsoft’s best intentions may not satisfy what locals want. The company surveyed 8,000 people in emerging markets and found their most pressing needs for technology often revolved around entertainment and surfing the Internet. “It reinforced for us that the emerging middle classes are sort of like the middle classes here except they don’t have as much money,” Mr. Toyama said. “It’s sometimes easy for us to get caught up in things and forget we are serving the needs of real people.
Alexander Graham Bell and/or Elisha Gray invented conventional telephony, most people know. Marconi is generally recognized as the father of radio, but many know that people like Tesla did most of the heavy lifting. Bell and Marconi are more or less household names, possibly because the prominence achieved by the companies named for these men. Who invented the mobile? Here is the obituary of Amos E.
Rohan Samarajiva will make a presentation entitled, ‘Small Screen, Big Scream: How much has the mobile really delivered, how much more to come?’ at the International Institute of Communications Annual Conference to be held from 3-4 November 2008, in Hong Kong. The event is co-hosted by the Broadcasting Authority and the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, Hong Kong. Themed, ‘Trends in Global Communications: Capturing the High Ground in an Uncertain World’, the conference seeks to examine the impact of current trends and twists in the telecom market, against the backdrop of developing regulatory policy and the inevitably huge demands of infrastructure investments. Some of the questions the conference hopes to address are: What new scenarios will tomorrow’s broadband, internet, mobile and media markets present for business, government, regulators and consumers?
Few weeks back I heard Senior Director of COAI, Mr T.R. Dua, state that rural teledensity (or access paths/100) now exceeded 10. Having heard numbers as low as 2/100 population just a few years back, I decided to investigate further. The Indian telecom minister, Mr Raja, confirmed that there were now 11 access paths per 100 rural persons.
In 2006, Sarvodaya started a project with IDRC funding to help the burgeoning telecenters (under various names) learn from each other and solve the problems they faced in an environment marked by rapidly changing technology and consumer demand. As part of this effort, Sarvodaya Fusion organized two training sessions at the MAS Institute of Management and Technology in Tulhiriya. The presentation that Helani Galpaya and I did (Sujata and Chanuka ran a parallel session) included components on innovation in service industries, the external environment that made innovation so important for telecenter operators, and systematic learning from failures. Because we had to work with multiple languages, it was not possible to cover all the slides, which are here. One of the things we noticed was that there appeared to be two different kinds of problems: the first kind could be fixed through process innovation; the second kind was structural and required remedies that were outside the scope of an event like this.
­IBM has released new survey results which claims that over 50 percent of consumers would substitute their Internet usage on a PC for a mobile device. With the world’s population of mobile-phone users expected to increase from the current 50 percent to 80 percent in 2013, which translates to a staggering 5.8 billion people, the availability of IP wireless broadband and more affordable devices will change the way companies around the world operate and relate to their customers, employees and partners. Download full report.

Mobiles and media freedoms

Posted by on October 22, 2008  /  3 Comments

In 1998, the principal journalist organizations of Sri Lanka agreed on the Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility. That served as a roadmap for some interesting and innovative reforms including the creation of a self-regulatory mechanism for print media in 2003. Of course, the reforms were not completed. In the hope of revising the text and energizing the reform effort, the Sri Lanka Press Institute organized a workshop, at which I was asked to speak. In light of the 15 minutes I was assigned, I decided to focus on SMS and cell broadcasting within the larger context of mobiles, a subject we are deeply interested in, rather try to cover the waterfront.
Broadband prices could rise by up to one-third if regulators in Europe insist on strict “net neutrality” rules that would block carriers from charging content providers premium prices to prioritise certain web traffic, a leading think-tank is set to warn. Net neutrality has become a big issue in the US as internet congestion has increased. In Europe, regulators and industry players have claimed that the situation is different because users have more choice of network providers, and the debate has been more muted. However, there have been growing concern among big telecoms companies that changes introduced in the European Parliament into the so-called telecoms package – the sweeping legislation which is designed to overhaul European Union telecoms laws – could open doors to net neutrality regulation in the future. Read the full story in ‘Financial Times’ here.
Thanks Steve for pointing it. We stand corrected. LIRNEasia does NOT use ‘Cloud Computing’, but is only a user of ‘Cloud Services’. Though both appears to be synonymous to a layman – and Wikipedia is yet to recognize the differentiation (type ‘Cloud Services’ and you will be directed to former) – we are told there still is a difference. Cloud Computing = you put your applications to ‘cloud’.
Besides sitting on Apple’s board of directors, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been an informal adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. In fact, he lurves Obama so much that’s he not just going to endorse him (shock, right?) he’s going to actually campaign for him next week. And not just ’cause Obama might be good for business! No, he says he’s “doing this personally.
When the economy goes rock bottom, it makes little sense asking what it would mean to one component. But what exactly the impact of the present financial crisis on telecoms? This is what Spencer E. Ante thinks: The $1 trillion telecommunications industry has long been one of the most resilient parts of the economy. But as the financial crisis has intensified, it has recently become clear that telecom can’t escape the fallout of the credit crunch.