News


While announcing lowered call and data rates, CEO of Telenor Myanmar, Petter Furberg goes on to say that almost half of all mobile subscriptions is Telenor. 12 of the 14 states and regions of Myanmar are now covered by Telenor, 55% of whose subscriber base are data users. He further claims that while expanding coverage in the country, the strength and quality of signal is being improved in areas that are already being served. This is definitely a welcome sign, in a country where 70% of mobile phone users are on smart phones. The full news item can be found here.
According to the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications in Myanmar, U Thaung Tin, the Government is working on a new spectrum allocation policy. An important aspect of a county’s broadcasting sector, streamlining the nation’s spectrum allocation is bound to be well received by anyone who is engaged in broadcasting. The Ministry is hoping to make the relevant policy document available “soon”. Myanmar currently has three mobile operators; Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT while they will soon have a forth – YTP. Myanmar shows a high demand for mobile services.
Ooredoo Myanmar has received two international awards for its MayMay app, recognizing their innovative approach to helping ensure that vital maternal, child health and wellness information is available to women, particularly during and after pregnancy. The app bridges the mobile and health sectors to help ensure that a wealth of useful information is readily available to women across the country both during and after pregnancy. Says Ross Cormack, CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar “MayMay’ is a great example of how our team develops innovative, home-grown solutions that speak to real issues affecting people in Myanmar today.” Today ‘MayMay’ has more than 11,000 users, emphasizing the growing demand for the service. It is free and can be accessed on iOS and Android.
Although Myanmar’s Parliament had approved the imposition of a 5% commercial telecom tax on mobile phone top ups last year, the Government hadn’t previously enforced it due to the rapid sector expansion that occurred in the last 12 months. According to a press release from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), this exemption is to come to an end with the adoption of the Amendment to the Commercial Tax law last month, and the tax will be collected from the 1st of June 2015. One wonders how this will affect mobile usage in the country. According to the findings of LIRNEasia’s baseline survey on mobile usage, as many as 74% of those who access the internet do so using their mobile phones. Will the rise in cost be significant enough to reduce the amount of data going up and down?
Ooredoo Myanmar has signed a deal with a Singaporean company for the construction and lease of 500 new mobile towers. Thus, at the end of 18 months, the telecom giant should see their tower strength surpassing the 2000 mark. At the moment, the coverage provided by the private operators Ooredoo and Telenor outside of the main cities are scanty at best. One wonders where these 500 new towers will be located. GSM estimates that Myanmar needs a minimum of 17,000 towers in order to provide 70% mobile coverage in the country.
One does not expect a simple assignment in a course to yield a news story that is distributed by a news service, but that is what happened at the broadband course we taught 28-31 March in Nagarkot, Nepal. The assignment required the team members to, inter alia, Assess the likelihood of success of the following elements of the Broadband Policy Draft of the NTA, by assembling evidence on the past performance of the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF) (including disbursement efficiency (i.e., what percentage of money was spent within a defined time period) The extraordinarily low disbursement rate caught everyone’s attention. Given the presence of journalists in the course, it was not surprising that it made the news too: The government has spent only 2.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) held their very first stakeholder forum in Asia today, in Yangon, Myanmar. The forum was richly attended by Government, Civil Society, Mobile Service Providers, Media and Researchers. LIRNEasia was also invited to attend, as an important player in Myanmar’s ICT area. The forum was graced briefly by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Communication and Information Technology U.
In a world where everyone is reaching for better, faster and more feature packed mobile phones, a little known Australian company has designed and manufactured a mobile phone focusing on the bare minimum, with the elderly in mind, particularly those with mental and physical limitations. The KISA phone (KISA stands for Keeping It Simple Always), designed in consultation with community organizations such as Vision Australia and Guide Dogs Victoria, first marketed the product in August last year and is aimed at those who struggle with technology. It has been received as an excellent mobile communications solution for people with impaired vision, hearing or dexterity. This is a compact phone, light enough to be worn around the neck with a lanyard strap and can be pre-programmed with up to 10 numbers. It can receive calls from any number, just like a regular phone although it can dial out only the numbers that were preset.
The Economist is a plum. In all honesty, I was thrilled we were mentioned. I wish they had gone to people with real data on Africa like RIA, rather than those who simply speculate, but still, a thoughtful piece. While the claim re radio may hold true for Africa, it definitely is incorrect for the Indo-Gangetic plain. Once restricted to the tech-literate, these are now common and easy to use.
The Hindu Businessline, a newspaper with sophisticated business coverage especially on ICT issues, has introduced our big data work to its readers. Can telecom networks be used for better urban planning? Colombo-based ICT think tank, LIRNEasia, has completed a project which used data from telecom networks in Sri Lanka to generate patterns related to population movement that showed concentration of people in a city at any given time of the day. LIRNEasia used data generated from mobile usage to create heatmaps that showed for example, how Colombo city acts as a sink, sucking people out of the surrounding suburbs during work times and North Colombo, which is the poorest part of the city, is integrally connected to the southern part of the city, providing labour to the rest of the city. Full report.
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.
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  
Of all the sessions that LIRNEasia people spoke at (eight officially; nine if the one where I was asked to speak on our big data work is included), the zero-rating session had been the most controversial. Understandably, it has drawn the attention of journalists. Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia noted that mobile phones have a high penetration across countries in South-East and South Asia, and that there even exist a fair number of low priced data plans. However there are many at the so-called bottom of the pyramid for whom even a low priced data plan is still challenging. Zero rating has helped them come on aboard.
In all network industries,the core problem is the peak. Peak is what drives investment and costs. But in Sri Lanka, even the valley is becoming a problem. The laws of physics require every electron that is produced and distributed over the grid to be also consumed. We lack adequate demand in the middle of the night.
2014 Common Alerting Protocol Implementation Workshop kicked off yesterday (17 June 2014) at the Jetwing Beach Hotel,Negombo, Sri Lanka. Mrs S.M. Mohamed,the Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management participated in the inauguration of the 2014 CAP Implementation Workshop. Ms Megan Foster, Charge d’affaires of High Commission of Canada, Mr Lalith Chandrapala, the Director General, Department of Meteorology, Mr.
The research conducted by Rajat Kathuria and Sugandha Srivastav continues to generate more publicity. Indians are falling in love with mobile apps. The average smartphone user in the country has 17 apps, says a recent study released by Google Mobile Planet. The number is close to the global average of 25 (South Korea leads with 41 apps—mostly games—per smartphone). India’s app economy is estimated to be worth Rs 974 crore in 2014, and is expected to grow 66 percent to Rs 1,621 crore in 2015.