Divakar Goswami

BSNL, the former incumbent fixed line and mobile carrier in India, is finalizing a $4.5-4.7 billion deal with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens to deploy 45.5 million GSM lines. Ericsson’s share of this deal is about $2.
Google has proposed to the FCC that instead of getting into long-term contracts for allocating spectrum, companies buying spectrum should be free to resell the spectrum in real-time auctions. This would probably not involve human beings in protracted auction negotiations but rather negotiations between devices in real-time. Since FCC’s auction is done at the wholesale level it would probably involve companies reselling spectrum that they won to consumers on real-time basis. NYT: “The driving reason we’re doing this is that there are not enough broadband options for consumers,” said Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Google’s policy office in Washington. “In general, it’s the belief of a lot of people in the company that spectrum is allocated in an inefficient manner.
Hindu Businessline  ICICI Bank is gearing to conduct a test run next month. The bank has tied up with Airtel and mChek for the purpose, said Mr Sachin Khandelwal, Head – Cards Product Group of ICICI Bank. “A virtual card will be created on the phone through which an individual can carry out complete banking transactions.” Mr Khandelwal said all a customer had to do was to give his mobile number and the payment to be made to the merchant. The merchant will furnish the information given via his mobile to mChek, a mobile payment platform, which in turn will channel it to the bank for authorising the transaction, before which mChek will seek customer authorisation (PIN entered authorisation) to carry forward the transaction.
Divakar Goswami made a presentation at Indonesia’s ICT 2007 Summit and Technoconference in Jakarta on May 3, 2007 organized by the President’s ICT Council, the Indonesian ICT Ministry, the Chamber of Commerce and MASTEL, the telecom industry association. In his presentation titled Backbone of convergence: Getting the foundation right, Divakar argued that without sufficient “big pipes” (domestic and international backbone) the potential of convergence and NGN services will not be realized. Indonesia’s inadequate international backbone infrastructure and high prices have acted as a bottleneck to the development of the Internet in the country. For example, Indonesia’s international private leased line circuit (IPLC) to Singapore costs 21 times the price of equivalent service from India based on route kilometers. Divakar contented that the Government’s plan of licensing one additional international operator will neither stimulate international gateway infrastructure nor bring down international bandwidth prices sufficiently.
In an empirical study conducted in fish markets along the coast of Kerala (South India), Robert Jensen found that the introduction of the mobile phone allowed improved flow of price information that resulted in a more efficient functioning of the market. Before mobile phone were introduced or coverage was available in Kerala, fishermen would generally return to their “home” markets with their catch. Oversupply meant that fish had to be routinely dumped into the sea to keep prices stable even if (unknown to the fishermen) there were markets 10kms away were fish were in greater demand. Mobile phones enabled price information from other markets to be available while the fishermen was still at sea. The fishermen would divert his boat to the market that offered the highest price for his catch.
Informa: TM doubles international budget Telekom Malaysia (TM) has earmarked to spend MYR8 billion (US$2.3 billion) this year expanding its international mobile businesses in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which is considerably more than the MYR2.8 billion it spent on its overseas units last year. TM chief executive Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar said TM’s foreign operations are expected to make 30% of group revenue this year, compared with 25% in 2006. However, the group is planning to trim its 87% stake in Sri Lankan mobile operator Dialog Telekom to not less than 80%, Wahid is quoted as saying.
Licenses have been granted to consortium members for building the Palapa Ring–backbone that will connect the Eastern part of Indonesia that currently relies on satellites with the rest of the country. It is not clear how the licenses were granted and what are the fees and obligations of the license holders. Furthermore, technical and financial feasibility studies are yet to be completed. No access regimes have been developed that will govern how non-consortium members will be able to access the Palapa Ring and on what terms. There couldn’t be a worse possible way of launching such a complex, capital-intensive project that is supposed to transform the ICT infrastructure of Indonesia.
Telephony base swells; ARPU continues to dip New Delhi April 17 Telephone subscriber base of the wire-line and wireless services together reached 189.92 million in the quarter ending December 2006 from 170.02 million on September 30, 2006, showing an increase of 11.7 per cent during the quarter. However, the blended ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) per month for GSM services has declined by 6.
Please continue discussion from Software Issues in Sri Lanka Part 6, on this thread. This thread is devoted to diverse software issues discussed in the context of Sri Lanka. Please stick to the topic and keep the discussion civil. Previous discussion is archived in the following threads: Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 5 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 4 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 3 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 2 Questioning ICT Myths
Hutch’s entry into Indonesia’s mobile market as the 5th significant operator has started putting downward pressure on mobile calling prices, as I had predicted in my Oped piece Lower mobile prices: Through competition or profit regulation? in January of 2007. It is too early to call it a “price war” as the article below does, but the signs that prices are coming down is evident. Indonesia’s mobile retail prices are some of the highest in Asia and there is enough room for the prices to drop further. Currently, Hutch’s competitors are reacting by issuing promotions to match the new entrant’s offering, but this does not per se signify a permanent cut in prices.
LIRNEasia‘s Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid study has been widely cited in an excellent piece by Thomas K. Thomas of the Hindu Businessline on Indian telecom operators push to go to rural areas where they were reluctant to do so before. Currently, a village with as little as 1000 persons is considered commercially viable for connecting to the network. Call of the Village Thomas K. Thomas, Hindu Businessline, April 2, 2007 [.
The Indian government held least cost subsidy auction (lowest bid for subsidy is the winner) in two parts to disburse the world’s second largest Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for rolling out mobile services in rural areas across the country. For the purposes of the auction, India has been divided into 81 clusters. Part A of the auction disbursed funds for passive infrastructure like towers and Part B dealt with the actual deployment of mobile services. The bidding has been intense for deployment of mobile services (Part B) and most of the bids were for zero subsidy fund and in some cases negative bids were made! This strongly indicates that mobile operators in India perceive deploying mobile services in India’s rural areas to be commercially viable.
LIRNEasia conducted a media workshop to present findings from the Teleuse@BOP project in Singapore on Feb 28, 2007. Teleuse@BOP (Shoestrings 2) is a large sample study undertaken by LIRNEasia on how low-income groups benefit from telecom and how the access pattern differs in five Asian countries, namely India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Thailand. The research looks at the use and ownership of telephones, what kinds of phones people use and why, the perceived benefits, expenditure on telephones and the barriers to telecom use in the five countries. The study, Teleuse@BOP, is the second study of this nature that LIRNEasia has conducted. It has brought out several interesting findings, which would provide valuable insights into the telecom user space in these Asian countries.
Most Indonesians access the Internet primarily using fixed wireline infrastructure, mostly dialup. Because of lack of competition in the fixed line sector due to various reasons fixed line growth has been stagnant which has also affected Internet growth in the country. Not only are no new lines being added to bring more homes online, the inadequate backbone infrastructure in large swathe of the country makes deployment of broadband services unviable even if incumbent’s local loop bottleneck could be bypassed. However, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2007) seems to suggest that high speed 3G wireless technology like HSDPA can bring broadband on a large scale to Indonesians. It (misleadingly) implies that since HSDPA is merely a software upgrade to 3G networks it will not require any new major telecom infrastructure investment in Indonesia.
The Indonesian government imposed unreasonable burdens on the new entrant for international service in a recently issued White Paper 140. LIRNEasia highlighted the unfairness of burdening new entrants with obligations that the two existing incumbents (Telkom & Indosat) were not subjected too in comments it submitted to DGPOSTEL (one of the two regulatory bodies): 4.4 The Indonesian policymakers may have misunderstood the concept of asymmetric regulation. Asymmetric rules place additional burdens on dominant group of providers that other operators are not subjected to. In the current White Paper, many additional burdens are imposed on the new entrant that are not imposed on the two incumbents, PT Telkom & PT Indosat.
A number of Indian mobile operators have been pilot-testing transferring money using mobile handsets. There are 160 million mobile subscribers in India far outnumbering the bank branches in the country (70,000). The service could potentially allow mobile users to transfer money electronically via the handset directly and instantaneously to another mobile subscriber in the country without having to use bank accounts. However, this service cannot be rolled out until the operators are given regulatory approval both from the banking regulators and telecom regulators. But a more restricted service which would still keep banks in the loop may have a higher chance of getting a quicker approval.