2009 September


Many were counting WiMAX out, but it appears that it has one last chance with the Sprint experiment. Through Clearwire, an affiliated company in which Sprint owns a 51 percent stake, Sprint is now offering the faster data service on laptops in Baltimore, Portland, Ore., and other cities for a total population of eight million people. By the end of the year, the service will be in 25 markets, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas. A year after that, it hopes to reach about a third of the country’s population, including New York and San Francisco.
Developed countries are generally perceived to be the gardens of best practices. Most of these countries’ lawmakers and lawbreakers (Including the diplomats and consultants)  frequently lecture us on how to do the right thing. But we hardly know about their dirty laundry. Mitchell Lazarus unfolds the regulatory dark side in the USA. The technical rules that deal with mature products are relatively general.
Hoarding is bad and spectrum is a limited resource. Therefore, the Swedish regulator will gradually implement a new model for spectrum charges that will penalise the operators who have not maximised the use of their radio spectrum. The new model for charges is technology-neutral and will be implemented gradually over the course of several years for various types of licence. Read more.
Mobile base station electricity costs could rise by nearly 55% over the next five years unless operators address network inefficiencies and reduce reliance on non-renewable energy resources, according to a new report from Juniper Research. Its author, Dr Windsor Holden, said: “Operators in Africa and Asia who continue to rely on diesel for off-grid generators will find margins increasingly squeezed as their networks expand and diesel prices rise. We believe that unless a transition to generators powered by renewable energy is effected, then many such networks may no longer be financially viable within a few years.” Other findings from the green base stations research include:  Base stations are responsible for more than 70% of CO2 emissions in the mobile use phase Operators should increasingly seek to utilise feederless sites and distributed site architecture as means of reducing inefficiency Adopting measures suggested under the transformational model will enable operators to reduce base station CO2 emissions by up to 30% Cellular News reports.
Few months back I posted On Her Majesty’s (Fraudband) Service suggesting how the British ISPs deceive in terms of advertised and delivered speed. New research by broadband comparison site Broadband-Expert has revealed that, on average, UK mobile broadband providers are delivering just 24% of advertised download speeds to consumers who sign up for their mobile broadband services. BBC reports.
Foreign investors, including non-resident Bangladeshi citizens, have been again declared persona non grata in Bangladesh’s crumbling international telecoms business.The regulator has invited public consultation and clause 6.01 of the proposed IGW, ICX and IIG licensing guidelines explicitly forbids any form of offshore investment. The nine-month old political government is keen to build “Digital Bangladesh.” But its regulator is following the immediate past military regime’s roadmap to improve the illegal bypass accounts’ digits.
LIRNEasia has from the beginning seen the value of looking at all infrastructures, and indeed looking at their inter-relationships. Given their places on the adoption curves, we do not believe that electronics can consume 15% of electricity at the BOP in emerging countries, but given the long gestation times of energy projects and reforms, it appears opportune to start thinking about this issue now, rather than later. The proliferation of personal computers, iPods, cellphones, game consoles and all the rest amounts to the fastest-growing source of power demand in the world. Americans now have about 25 consumer electronic products in every household, compared with just three in 1980. Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency, making it more difficult to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.
India’s security agencies have recommended a ban on international Internet telephony until a system to trace the calls is in place, officials said, the latest move to plug security loopholes after the Mumbai attacks. India fears that militant groups operating from overseas could use Internet telephony to bypass security systems during the planning and execution of attacks, officials said. “Since it is impossible to trace Internet telephone calls from foreign countries, we have asked the Department of Telecommunications to block such calls until a system is in place,” said a senior Intelligence Bureau official, who could not be identified. More in Reuters.
India’s MTNL and BSNL have been losing fixed subscriptions for years; Sri Lanka joined the club recently. Now we see the heirs to AT&T throwing in the towel. I guess it was like this when the railways replaced the canals. How long will it take for policy makers in emerging Asia to see where the wind is blowing? Roll over in your grave, Alexander Graham Bell.
LIRNEasia’s 2005 research on India’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) policy, conducted by Payal Malik and Harsha de Silva, has been cited in a presentation  to the US House of Representatives, in March 2009. The paper presented, entitled, “Using Competitive Bidding to Reform the Universal Service High Cost Fund”, can be downloaded here. As a policy-oriented organization, we are indeed pleased that our research is being used to influence policy, not just in emerging Asia but in other regions as well. LIRNEasia’s paper, “Diversifying Network Participation: Study of India’s Universal Service Instruments” can be downloaded here. More on the study can be found here.
Mobile is the most logical vehicle to deliver affordable broadband. Ovum warns the success or failure of mobile broadband in an emerging market may still be outside an operator’s control. Besides competition, the costs of fuel supplies to remote base stations or international connectivity must be taken seriously in the business plan. “Governments have a major role to play in providing an environment conducive to success; spectrum policy is the clearest example of this, either through its release to operators or through global harmonisation to benefit from economies of scale”, says Daniel Subramaniam, analyst at Ovum and co-author of this report. Governments also hold the keys to unlock several other stimuli for deployment and uptake.
This is the telecoms profile of Bahrain. The tiny Gulf state’s regulator has penalized the incumbent for refusing competitors accessing its international gateway, according to Reuters. Bahrain Telecommunications Company – like any other incumbent – is claiming innocence. The fact remains that if Batelco doesn’t pay within 30 days, the multimillion dollars penalty jumps upward. The clock is ticking for Batelco as the sword is hanging over its head!
It has already happened in the UK and New Zealand. Now Telstra has been asked to voluntarily separate its wholesale and retail arms. Otherwise, the Australian government will do the amputation – with or without anesthesia. The incumbent is, predictably, grumbling about it. Ovum has urged the government to play it right.
Lead Economist, Harsha de Silva and the AgInfo work that he has been leading at LIRNEasia has been featured in the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) 2008-2009 Annual Report. Read the full feature here (page 16)
A search is on for the right metaphor. What is the new role for government — a platform? a vending machine, into which we put money to extract services? a facilitator? And what, indeed, is the new role for us — the ones we’ve been waiting for?
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia Chair and CEO, made the lead presentation on access to ICTs at an OECD/infoDev Workshop on the Internet Economy yesterday in Paris. The workshop, “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” is currently underway. In his presentation, Dr Samarajiva described the new “Budget Telecom Network Model” developed in South Asia that is enabling mobile operators to serve low-income customers who yield very low ARPUs [Average Revenues per User] and discuss its extension to enable broadband use.  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have offered the lowest total costs of mobile ownership since 2005-06 while still yielding adequate, though somewhat volatile, returns to ensure continued investment in network extension and new services.  LIRNEasia research shows that this has been made possible by business process innovations to reduce operating expenses, and the minimizing of transaction costs made possible by widespread prepaid use.
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