2014 September


LIRNEasia is pleased to issue a call for expressions of interest (EOIs) to conduct baseline research on information, knowledge and communications technology needs and uses in Myanmar. The detailed call for EOIs cn be read here. Interested parties should respond according to the guidelines no later than 0800 hours Sri Lanka time on 10 October 2014.
So Telenor is about to hit the market. They’ve got to work smarter, lacking the billions (USD 15, but I’ve heard even larger numbers) Ooredoo is committed to invest. Being the late comer, Telenor is betting on service quality as well as extensive marketing network to ensure success. While MPT assigned 13 companies and shops to sell its SIM cards, Telenor said that its products would be available at 1,500 shops in Mandalay alone. In direct competition against MPT, Telenor is also offering two low-cost mobile handsets, an entry level second-generation phone and entry level smart phone, for Ks 19,900 [USD 20] and Ks 49,900 [USD 50] respectively.
The rollout everyone is waiting for is from Reliance’s Jio Infocomm. The Ambanis tend to change the game. But in the meanwhile, Zong has beaten Warid to announce a seven-city rollout in Pakistan Dr. Fan said that Zong will inject 1 billion dollars in Pakistan over the span of three to four years. He said that his company aims to add 4,000 new cell sites to the network by year end.
All these years Sri Lanka was connected to its main international communication conduits (SEA-ME-WE 2, 3 and 4) from Colombo and Mount Lavinia (a suburb of Colombo) over branch cables. In the case of SEA-ME-WE 5, the new consortium cable that is expected to come online in 2016, the connection will be direct, in that the Alcatel built cable will terminate in Brown’s Hill in Matara (close to the southernmost point of Sri Lanka) and the eastern component to be built by NEC will commence from the same location. This will shave off several milliseconds from the delivered latency partly because of the use of superior regenerators and partly because of the reduced distance. This is what Wikipedia says: Latency is largely a function of the speed of light, which is 299,792,458 meters/second in vacuum. This would equate to a latency of 3.
The government of Bangladesh will spend USD 72.5 million on SEA-ME-WE 5, on which construction commenced this month. “As Myanmar has become a member of the consortium we are paying $10 million less for the branch cable,” Hossain said. So far 12 countries have confirmed their membership with the consortium, while three other entities may join later, which will reduce the cost of Bangladesh for the core cable, he said. The final contract of the consortium will be signed next month, he said.
During its workshop for the electricity sector stakeholders in Sri Lanka, back in February 2014, LIRNEasia spoke about the possibility of using SMS for communicating with its customers. At the time we spoke about informing consumers about planned and unplanned power outages. This is currently being deployed by LECO and selected CEB distribution licencees. It appears the CEB has gone a step further and now intends to inform its consumers of impending disconnections to their electricity supply. The publicity for this service was seen in the weekend newspapers.
In a short piece reassessing the Sri Lanka government’s economic strategies centered on hubs, this is what I had to say on progress toward a knowledge hub. The controversial stuff on electricity, ports and aviation. Most progress has been achieved on this thrust, measured by the export revenues and numbers of jobs created by the IT and BPM [Business Process Management] sectors. But progress is needed on the foundational resource: a knowledgeable work force. Significant improvements have been achieved in tertiary and higher education.
India’s regulator has launched a public consultation on – “Delivering Broadband Quickly: What do we need to do?” TRAI has identified many bottlenecks across the broadband supply chain in India. It is, however, mute on the duopoly of Tata and Bharti over the submarine cable landing stations. TRAI underscores the rationalization of right-of-way. It should have revealed that some states charge as high as INR 1.
If broadband is to be provided at affordable costs, the last mile will for the most part be wireless. Unless people allow towers to be built, this will not be feasible. The Gujarat High Court decision will help. The latest verdict of the Gujarat High Court that base stations for wireless data and mobile communications pose no threat to health if prescribed norms are followed will have far-reaching impact on erasing people’s fears, say industry experts. The 25-page order of a Gujarat High Court bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.
Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia spoke at the Workshop2014 on ‘Net Neutrality, Zero Rating and development: what’s the data?’ I think local has been a problem and is a fundamental problem in Asia, emerging Asia, irrespective of zero rated content. People on Facebook — for network effects, because it has cool stuff and your friend, and I think the solution to that is to have ‑‑ if you want local content, you need to produce more local content. You need more local content giving apps and irrespective of zero‑rated content, there are no killer apps. There aren’t that many killer apps that are relevant in these countries.
The impact of cloud computing and M2M communication at the emerging economies was discussed at the ninth Internet Governance forum, that was held in Turkey, this September. Rohan Samarajiva, the founding chair of LIRNEasia spoke at the Workshop03:Cloud Computing & M2M: Impacts for Emerging Economies. Here is the youtube clip for the workshop 03. Go to 21:51 for Rohan’s take on the topic You can also find the transcription here  
It is true that we tend to overdo the ceremonial elements, but well-organized conferences perform a vital function in public policy making and implementation. They concentrate the attention of the relevant persons, both in terms of preparing presentations and in terms of listening. Not all of it sticks, but if well designed, enough seeps through to improve performance in the relevant sector. Next week, the Ministry of Disaster Management is organizing a large conference with national and international participation on the theme “the future we want — A safer Sri Lanka.” I am chairing a session and presenting a paper based on work we did for UN ESCAP on making ICT infrastructure disaster resilient to support more effective action in the relief and recovery phases.
In May 2007, I made a presentation to high-level committee appointed by the government of Bangladesh to recommend reforms to the way international telecom traffic was handled. I neglected to spell out what BPO stood for. “What is BPO” was the question from the audience. Seven years later, Bangladesh is ranked 26th in the AT Kearney Global Services Location Index. That is great.
Incumbent telcos see competition as an unmitigated evil. But what happens is that competition energizes the market and creates new demand. If the incumbent is decently managed, it can catch some (and possibly most) of this demand. After all, it is the known brand. And competitors have their own problems in the start-up phase.
In the design of India’s broadband initiative, it was said that one thing was non-negotiable: the work had to be done by state-owned enterprises. Knowledgeable people advised the government that this would slow down implementation. And so it happened. Now the new Minister is hiring 10 CIOs to push implementation (including much of the eco system), setting realistic time targets and upping the spend from USD 7 billion to USD 17 billion. And taking all the credit, as is customary.
This is not immediately relevant to our market segment, but it will become so over time. This has the potential to displace laptops and small smartphones. The economies of scale will kick in, and prices will come down. And a key element in the Internet eco system will be put in place. According to a new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, worldwide phablet shipments (smartphones with screen sizes from 5.
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