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Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

Mismatch of supply and demand for SIMs in Myanmar

Last month in Yangon, I said to a group of Parliamentarians that I hoped there would be no SIM riots in Myanmar similar to those that occurred when competition was introduced in Bangladesh and Pakistan. A riot is a crude response to a mismatch of supply and demand. Looks like the mismatch exists in Myanmar, […]

A no-camera phone optimized for listening to music from Microsoft (Nokia)

It’s been sometime since we wrote about cheap feature phones for the BoP. Around seven years, if my search does not mislead. But here goes Microsoft. We wish them success. The company billed the €19 device as “the most affordable mobile phone with video and music player”. In both cases, the ability to add content […]

Japan extends concessionary loans to Myanmar for telecom: Govt must ensure competition is not harmed

On the face any money coming into Myanmar to help develop its creaking infrastructure is good. When the money is given on concessionary terms, it appears even better. But it is important to look beyond appearance. Will it harm competition, which is the government’s chosen (and proven) instrument to develop the ICT infrastructure? Japan said […]

Making fast communication, faster

A chain is as strong as the weakest, I keep saying. The speed of the communication link as the speed of its slowest link. As long as signals that travel at the speed of light within fiber optic cables have to be converted to electronic signals to traverse semiconductors, that is the speed of the […]

Knowledge in the value chains

I had some fun today. The Chamber of Commerce organizes a Sri Lanka Economic Summit every year. I was invited to moderate the closing session that included the Chairs/CEOs of some of Sri Lanka’s highest profile companies: Brandix, Softlogic, Keells, Hemas and Dialog Axiata. The topic was innovation and growth. There was a lot of […]

Attention economy and Facebook

One out of six minutes on Facebook for average Americans. With women spending four times the time. Consumer brands, from the beer giant Budweiser to start-ups like the clothier Trunk Club, want to reach people where they are spending their time. More and more, that place is Facebook. In June, the social network accounted for […]

MPT and KDDI-Sumitomo to split profits; KDDI-Sumitomo to invest and manage?

Usually, profits go to those who take the risks and do the work. What is MPT’s contribution to the JV? Being “the industry regulator,” which I hope is a misstatement of facts? Contributing the land and existing assets? Middle management? Japanese wireless carrier KDDI, and trading house Sumitomo, will spend on telecoms infrastructure and jointly […]

Free Facebook on Ooredoo Myanmar?

Myanmar Times carried a long interview with Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Ross Carmack that appears to suggest that Facebook access will be free. Or is it only during the promotional period? The pre-kick off promotional offer is for the price of a SIM, which will be K1500 to you, the customer, for that price between the […]

Ooredoo launches; competitive era begins in Myanmar telecom

I thought they’d launch on a weekday, but they went two days early and launched August 2nd, Saturday. Better earlier than late. When I was talking about this with the Parliamentarians, I said I hoped the companies would take steps to avoid the “mobile riots,” we had witnessed elsewhere in the region. Perhaps the early […]

US cloud computing takes a body blow from ruling on extra-territorial jurisdiction

Below is what we said were among critical policy issues in cloud computing: The storage of data in multiple, usually foreign, jurisdictions raises a different set of regulatory issues including data protection and police investigatory powers. The jurisdictional issues are anchored on the location of the firm and the location of the data. In the […]

Forum shopping in regulation debated in India

If not for a degree of regulatory duplication, it’s possible that the AT&T breakup that transformed the entire telecom environment would not have happened. On the other hand, it’s the general competition regulator who did the job that the sector regulator failed to do. Nevertheless, countries that have limited human resources to deliver effective regulation […]

Myanmar Parliamentarians keen to learn about ICTs

18 MPs from six parties

Eighteen members of Parliament from six different political parties, including the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the opposition National League for Democracy, assembled before start time this past weekend for an ICT awareness program organized by the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO) where LIRNEasia supplied the content. They then stayed engaged throughout, […]

Myanmar launch of Information lives of the poor book

Yangon book launch

The first translation of the book Information lives of the poor, co-authored by Laurent Elder, Rohan Samarajiva, Alison Gillwald and Hernan Galperin and published by IDRC, was ceremonially released in Yangon at an event on the 25th of July. The picture shows one of the co-authors handing over the book to H.E. Mark McDowell, Canada’s […]

Indications of Myanmarese directly taking up smartphone and mobile apps

A study of mobile use by poor micro entrepreneurs in five cities has revealed surprisingly high levels of smartphone use, indicating fast take-up of mobile applications and services beyond voice when competitive network roll-out gathers momentum in the coming weeks. The results of ethnographic research, interviews and focus groups conducted earlier this year by LIRNEasia, […]

MPT’s joint venture will keep all 8,500 employees and create direct and indirect employment

In Sri Lanka, the incumbent teleco is a healthy company that gives decent service, lots of patronage benefits and some contributions to Treasury. It did not shed any employees, other than through voluntary schemes. In Bangladesh and India, the incumbents are at death’s door. The difference is that Sri Lanka government partially privatized the company […]

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