For two days, I’ve been immersed in debates around WCIT, here in Accra at the African preparatory meeting. The delegate from Egypt, who had control of the text, was the most committed advocate of imposing a form of accounting-rate regime on data flows. According to him, the data are a burden on the network, they cause harm to the network, and the access network operators are subsidizing them. His views extend to content: he believes that the content is in some cases inappropriate. I could understand this attitude from an executive of an old style unreformed voice telephony company, longing for the good old monopoly days when the network was operated for the benefit of the managers and employees and the customers were an annoyance to be tolerated.
We’ve been talking about the qualitative increase in data volumes that will result from the conversion of mobile networks into carriers of data since 2010. Is it a flood, a tsunami or an avalanche? The name does not seem to matter (though tsunami is the term that seems to be catching). Unless the problem is understood (operators do; some regulators and policy makers do, as evidenced below); and addressed (both in terms of access networks, as below, and in terms of backhaul, as we have been advocating), the quality of broadband experience will degrade radically. The announcement comes as wireless companies are facing a spectrum crunch crisis that has already begun to reshape the industry.
We’d be lucky to be able get wireguided communications to 10 percent of homes in the countries we work in. But we can reach 75 percent plus homes with wireless even now. So we’re all for getting fiber to neighborhoods and are quite agnostic about the access network as long as it’s wireless. In places where they got money, life is not that simple. The bills to pay for those who get the answer wrong are quite high.
Click on the links to see the full articles covering LIRNEasia’s book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks. ‘BSNL’s monopoly over infrastructure a hindrance to growth’ – Financial Express (India) Rural connectivity is now the focus of every telecommunication player in the country. Almost all stakeholders, from handset manufacturers to service providers, believe that the next wave of growth is in the rural areas.”However, India’s roll out (of telecom services) in rural areas has been slow. BSNL has the backbone infrastructure but is not yet ready to share it with private players,” he added.
Rohan Samarajiva Information Technologies and International Development (ITID) – MIT Press, Winter 2006, Vol. 3, No. 2, Pages 57-71 Abstract: Wireless technologies play an enormously important role in extending access to voice and data communications by hitherto excluded groups in society, especially in the world’s most populated region and now the largest mobile market, the Asia-Pacific. The present rates of growth and levels of connectivity could not have been achieved without wireless in the access networks, for mobile as well as for fixed, and in the backbone networks. But the solution is not simply wireless; it is wireless combined with new investment; it is wireless combined with other inputs and systems.
LIRNEasia’s 2005-06 research program laid bare the policy and regulatory conditions necessary for the successful mobilization of ICTs to serve the needs of people in specific emerging-economy contexts. The research has identified hitherto unknown aspects of telecom use by low-income users, analyzed various non-optimal, but best-available, workaround options to connect people to access networks in the context of dysfunctional policy, regulatory and market environments, and provided critiques of large scale policy and regulatory actions for building out backbone and access networks. Summary Report