2009 August


Mobile phones will be the key driver of Internet connectivity in Africa in coming years as there are more people with handsets than computers. “Mobile phones essentially have the ability to deliver the Internet into everybody’s hand. It is therefore going to be a huge driving factor for the demand for IP connectivity,” said Steven Van Der Linde, Tata Communications’ data sales director for Africa. Reuters reports.
LIRNEasia responded to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s (BTRC) Consultation Paper ‘Standardization of Quality of Service Parameters for Broadband Internet Services’ based on the broadband research and testing done in Dhaka, New Delhi, Chennai and Colombo. We said (a) broadband is above 256 kbps, not 128 kbps; (b) minimum bandwidth requirements should be valid beyond the ISP domain; (c) operators should maintain predetermined contention ratios; (d) bandwidth ultilisation should be above 75% on average; (e) latency < 85 ms for local and <300 ms for international and (f) user surveys are important but should be supplemented by user testing which gives a more objective measure. LIRNEasia also offered assistance if BTRC plans user testing. Downloads: Consultation Paper and LIRNEasia’s Response.
Few days back we heard that flat rate was the way forward. Here is the riposte, in words from experts (including LIRNEasia) and in new offerings from Reliance. Let the debate continue. The experts see business sense around sachet pricing, especially for a low income group subscriber in the villages of India, who is mostly a prepaid user and does not have a big budget to spend. They say sachet pricing can yield results not only for Inetrnet penetration, but other services other than voice.
We have written about this endless loop of reasoning before. But I guess someone thinks this perpetual motion exercise does some good. AVIATION has long been blamed for its share of anthropogenic global warming. Indeed, some travellers now ask themselves whether their flight is strictly necessary and, if they decide it is, salve their consciences by paying for the planting of trees. These, so they hope, will absorb the equivalent of their sinful emissions.
Rohan Samarajiva is among three finalists for the the first Bastiat Prize for Online Journalism. samarajiva was nominated for his Lanka  Business Online column “Choices” The Bastiat Prize is awarded by the International Policy Network, a London-based think tank that seeks to improve public understanding of the role of the institutions of the free society. The Bastiat Prize (for journalism) was first awarded in 2002 and judges have included Lady Thatcher and Nobel-Prize-winners James Buchanan and Milton Friedman. The prize was developed to encourage and reward writers whose published works promote the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science. This is the first time that a seperate category for online journalism is being awarded.

Parental-control phones

Posted by on August 27, 2009  /  0 Comments

In the context of the debates about banning mobiles for school children, the issue of phones that constrain use has become relevant. The NYT has done a full survey of the options available to parents in the US, an excerpt of which is given below. Why doesn’t someone do a similar survey for India, Sri Lanka, etc.? Now for some real cellphones.
Orascom’s North Korean subsidiary koryolink’s subscriber base stood at 47,850 by the end of Q2. The operator has introduced further reduction in connection fees as well as free SMS for the first time to boost its growth. Additionally, the mix of free minutes was revised to satisfy customer requirements. Over the second-quarter, while minutes of use rose to 199 per month, the ARPU fell to US$22.8, from US$24.
Xavier Damman is CEO and founder of Internet company Tweetag. He believes the best thing governments can do to support entrepreneurship is step aside and become “invisible”. Xavier explains:  A government is like the operating system of your computer. It is a necessary piece of software and overhead to make all the different components work together. And the best government, as the best operating system, is the one you can forget about.
Nokia said it would launch a mobile financial service next year targeting consumers, mainly in emerging markets, with a phone but no banking account. Its Nokia Money service was based on the mobile payment platform of Obopay, a privately-owned firm that Nokia invested in earlier this year, and it is now building up a network of agents. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a U.S.-based microfinance policy and research center, has said the market for mobile financial services to poor people in emerging markets will surge from nothing to $5 billion in 2012.
Few years back we had trouble on this blog because of anonymous posts attacking the late Professor V.K Samaranayaka. He complained to our funders and partners. But we held to the principles of allowing anonymous posts and non-moderation. Here is a another discussion about anonymity: Pseudonyms have a noble history.
The usage-based pricing model, which is used widely for billing retail customers, is hampering the growth of local content and services in India. “In contrast, a flat-rate pricing model would spur demand for broadband services and enable content providers to target the local and emerging market,” argues Ashwin Gumaste, James R. Isaac Chair at Computer Science department in the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. His statement has hit the front page of The Hindu. It happened after his thought-provoking article – On the State and Guiding Principles of Broadband in India – got published in the current issue of IEEE Communications Magazine.
Reliance was at the presentations we made on teleuse@BOP3 results about awareness, trial and use of more-than-voice applications on mobiles. We can only speculate whether our results were used in the design of the services described by The Hindu: RCom is launching three initiatives — BharatNet plan, Grameen VAS and M2M (Machine to Machine) solutions — under its rural drive. BharatNet plan is a high-speed wireless Internet service in over 20,000 rural locations across India and will address four million PC users in rural India. A high-speed variant of the Reliance NetConnect service specifically designed for rural and sub-urban markets, it will offer speeds of about 153 Kbps, which is 4 to 8 times the current dial-up speed of wire-line services. BharatNet is being offer at Rs.
The US technology giant will debut OneApp in South Africa and hopes to swiftly roll it out in India, China and other countries where millions of people use feature phones instead of powerful smartphones. “We designed OneApp from the ground up on feature phones with very limited memory and processing capabilities,” said Amit Mital, corporate vice president of the Unlimited Potential Group and Startup Business Accelerator at Microsoft. “OneApp will be able to help people do things they couldn’t do before with their feature phone — anything from paying their bills to helping diagnose their health issues or just staying connected with friends and family.” In the heels of Apple and Google redefining the smartphone segment, Microsoft appears to be trying to transform the featurephone segment, according to LBO. OneApp is designed to work with GPRS and is therefore of greater relevance to the bottom of the pyramid.
Mobile TV has so far failed to deliver on its promise of ubiquity, but analysts expect worldwide user numbers to increase to 54 million in 2009. Industry watchers said the biggest potential will be in emerging markets. See the complete article at: http://news.bbc.co.
Singapore has devised what looks like a level playing field for its national broadband rollout – complete with competing players in different tiers. But as the first homes are connected questions are being asked about just how competitive the market will be. Alfred Siew reports in telecomTV.  Robert Clark of Telecom Asia has recently also questioned IDA’s transparency in disbursing the fund for NBN.
Just recently, we heard about a m-gov application in Indian villages which uses barcode readers from Subhash Bhatnagar. The Economist has a long piece on how barcodes and mobiles interact. NEGOTIATING his way across a crowded concourse at a busy railway station, a traveller removes his phone from his pocket and, using its camera, photographs a bar code printed on a poster. He then looks at the phone to read details of the train timetable displayed there. In Japan, such conveniences are commonplace, and almost all handsets come with the bar code-reading software already loaded.