2009 May


The OECD countries are racing toward a broadband solution based fixed access, ADSL, Cable or FTTH. THE number of people subscribing to broadband in OECD countries increased by 13% last year to 267m. More than a fifth of the combined population of the 30 mostly rich nations in the OECD now have high-speed access to the internet. The broadband penetration rate is above a third in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Adoption is lowest in poorer countries such as Mexico, where just over 7% are broadband subscribers.
The Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) information communication system comprises an upstream health data submission by last-mile health workers, data processing by epidemiologist, and downstream alerting by health officials.There are four components to the RTBP software: mobile phone application, desktop web application, database, T-Cube analytic tools, and Common Alerting Protocol messaging. The individual components are to be developed by Rural Technology and Business Incubator, Respere (Private) Limited, and Auton Lab. Following are the four software requirement specification documents – 1) Sahana biosurveillance module (database and desktop web application) 2) Mobile J2ME application (data collection) 3) T-Cube web interface (analysis and event detection) 4) Sahana Common Alerting Protocol Messaging Module (publishing SMS/Email/Web alerts)
An article, co-authored by Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik, has been published in India’s Financial Express. The article discusses findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 project. Read the full article here. Just five years ago, the Indian telecom industry=barely included the poor. The country had a teledensity of 7/100 people, but in rural India 100 people were served by only 1.
Findings from LIRNEasia’s Broadband Quality of Service Experience (QoSE) study have been published in The Economic Times, India.  Broadband quality of service offered by fixed wireline operators in non-metro areas of Tamil Nadu is three times better than in the metro circles of Chennai and Bangalore, a study conducted by IIT-Madras has shown…telecommunications and computer Netwroks group of IIT-M, has conducted tests on broadband quality of service in Chennai and RoTN circles as part of a project by Asian telecom policy thinktank LIRNEasia. Read the full article here. 
One of the more exciting things we have been talking about in the last little while is the budget telecom network business model being implemented in South Asia. We have seen it spread to Nepal, but the big question was when and how it would get to Africa. If Bharti and MTN merge, we can be sure the model will spread. An update.
Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO of LIRNEasia was awarded the prestigious 2009 “Communication Research as an Agent of Change Award” by the International Communication Association (ICA) at the 59th Annual conference of the ICA on 23 May 2009, in Chicago, USA. The award honors one person each year whose work has had a demonstrable impact on practice outside the academy, with clear benefits to the community. The award was presented to him by Patrice M. Buzzanell, President of the International Communication Association. At the ceremony a brief statement about his accomplishments and the ways his work has had sustainable social benefits was presented by the ICA: “Dr.
Village Health Nurses (VHN) are the last-mile health workers attending to the primary health care needs of the rural villagers in the state of Tamil Nadu; where the real-time biosruveillance program (RTBP) is being pilot tested in India. They work under harsh conditions. For instance transportation schedule is limited to a bus that leaves in the morning and returns in the afternoon. Baking and sweating in the hot sun in Sivaganga District of Tamil Nadu, they walk for several kilometers, carrying a heavy load of Registers, making house calls to give the much needed health care to the rural poor. During a recent workshop, in Tamil Nadu, a discussion around the accountability of submitting data revealed that the VHN sometimes cheat on the statistics they tediously record on large volumes of paper forms.
Research papers and presentations made at the “Mobile2.0: Beyond Voice?” pre-conference workshop at the 2009 ICA Conference, 20 – 21 May 2009, Chicago, are now available for download below; the pre-conference is being organized by LIRNEasia (www.lirneasia.net).
Pakistan has three submarine cables. SEA-ME-WE3 and SEA-ME-WE4 are being operated by the state-owned PTCL, while the private sector has been operating the TWA cable since 2006. Yet the government has been halting competition by forbidding the private cable for the internet service providers. Finally the regulator has lifted such puritan embargo. Thanks to the authorities’ belated commonsense.
After showcasing our work at ICTD2009 (see poster), where our work: real-time biosurveillance program (RTBP) was highlighted along with Bill Gates in a Qatar media article, Prof. Artur Dubrawski (Director Auton Lab) and I returned to Sri Lanka to engage in work related to our pilot project: RTBP. Prof. Dubrawski’s visit included a workshop on T-Cube web interface in support ot the RTBP for the RTBP researchers at Sarvodaya head quarters in Moratuwa (see workshop program), a colloquium on Machine Learning in Support of Biomedical Security for the faculty and students at the University of Colombo School of Computing, and participating in the health worker m-HealthSurvey training program in Kuliyapitiya. The work under taken, April 21 – 25, is elaborated in the trip report.
Tharoor recalled the infamous words of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s communications minister in the 1970s, C.M. Stephen. In response to questions decrying the rampant telephone breakdowns in the country, the minister declared in Parliament that telephones were a luxury, not a right. He added that ‘any Indian who was not satisfied with his telephone service could return his phone’ — since there was an eight-year waiting list of people seeking this supposedly inadequate product.
BBC should have checked the numbers for Indonesia and Sri Lanka (corrected for overall population/subscriber numbers) and they would have found that these countries are ahead of Europe on the use if mobile dongles on computers to connect to the Internet. Customers’ appetite for mobile data shows no sign of abating, if you look at figures supplied by network operator Orange. It now has 3.8 million users on 3G phones or with 3G dongles that plug into your computer and give you broadband access over the cellular data networks. According to Orange, 12,877 gigabytes of data travel over its network to 3G phones and dongles each day.
Teleuse@BOP3, LIRNEasia’s six country study has shown that between 2006 and 2008 there has been significant uptake of mobiles by the BOP in emerging Asia. Access to computers on the other hand (see here for numbers)  in these countries at the BOP is minimal.  Together with the increasing capabilities of mobiles to deliver an array of services, which essentially boil down to what you can do on the Internet (information publication and retrieval, transactions, etc) this means that much of the BOP will have their first Internet experience through a mobile. The current issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons quarterly magazine highlights LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study findings from India, illustrating this point. Mobiles are now the most common form of communication, pushing public phones into second place… The rapid evolution of the mobile into a multi-purpose communications and knowledge tool combined with its fast adoption by the BOP, means they and the majority of people in the developing world are likely to have their first Internet experience via a mobile.
I telepresenced using the Tata marketed CISCO system in New Delhi few months ago and was converted. Three locations and after a few minutes, you just assume that you’re talking to people in the room. The clarity of the pictures and audio was astounding. Now with the costs and hassle of air travel increasing, this is clearly the way to do business. But you need a minimum 5 MBps link for a two-way; we used 15MBps for the three-location conference.
Sixteen Sarovdaya Suwadana Center Volunteers working in the capacity of Research Assistants for the real-time biosurveillance program were trained in the use of the m-HealthSurvey mobile application. The training took place at the Sarvodaya Kuliyapitiya District Center, April 23 – 25, 2009. The three day program comprised lectures on disease surveillance and notification, use of mobile application for communicating patient data, and a field visit to understand the working environment. The Suwadana Center Volunteer training workshop report carries the full story.
TVEAP (on behalf of LIRNEasia) videoed a series of interviews with teleusers to explore their usage patterns at the BOP. These videos are part of a larger study conducted by LIRNEasia on the use of ICTs at the BOP in six Asian countries. Below is one of seven interviews; more will be uploaded in the next few days.
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