Australia


In the context of some work we were doing with the support of Ford Foundation we conducted four case studies of national broadband initiatives. The four case studies were presented at the Expert Forum we convened in New Delhi in March 2014 and may have contributed to the rethinking of the becalmed NOFN project that has now been relaunched as Digital India. The comparative analysis has now been published as Gunaratne, R.L. et al.
I have never been a great fan of NRI type indices where the components are somewhat opaque and some are subjective. Instead of going into the details of the method and weaknesses of components such as the mythical (for the most part) numbers of Internet users, I thought I’d check in against four countries that have launched major initiatives on broadband promotion using government subsidies: Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia’s plan is the winner in terms of public money committed and Malaysia is the winner in terms of households already connected. Case studies conducted with Ford Foundation support should be on the web shortly. Australia is holding steady at 18th place.
I would have tweeted this, but this is China. I am at the Public Policy Forum of the GSMA Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai. Listening to Mike Wright of Telstra on the 700 MHz Band. He just said that they are done with 3G. Investments cancelled.
Yesterday, I was pleased to have the opportunity to share our thinking on measuring the efficacy of our research and capacity-building work with colleagues from RMIT, Swinburne and ACMA at a seminar organized at RMIT. It was intriguing to hear that some of the participants thought that Bangladesh gave more room for genuine policy inputs from those outside government than Australia. I know first hand the limitations of the policy process in what I like to call my countries, but they do not. Did not get much help in solving the puzzle of measuring the efficacy of CPRsouth. Here the surprise was that Australia seemed to lack a forum such as CPRsouth for two way interactions between policy people and scholars.

Wire or wireless?

Posted by on July 31, 2011  /  0 Comments

One of the principal rationales for the creation of LIRNE.NET in 2000, and then LIRNEasia in 2004, was to counter the tendency to transplant policy and regulatory thinking unchanged from the developed market economies into the developing world. But that never meant that we should ignore theoretical developments and policy/regulatory innovations just because they emerged in the developed market economies. It is my firm belief that theory is universal. But the application of abstract theory to concrete circumstances must always involve deep interrogation of local context and will almost always requires adaptation and innovation.
One cannot talk about broadband these days without Australia’s massive taxpayer-funded national broadband scheme coming up. In an otherwise interesting and informed discussion of the pros and cons, Ian McAuley confuses the debate by conflating access networks, which will for the most part be wireless, and backhaul networks which will for the most part be fiber. The fourth myth is that “the Internet is becoming a wireless internet”, to quote Malcolm Turnbull, who appeared on the program with his nifty little wireless tablet computer. The claim is disingenuous, and Turnbull, of all people, knows the limits of wireless technology. Bandwidth is limited, and what works today for a few users will become the Internet equivalent of road gridlock in just a few years.
Early warning does not happen every day. So when hazards occur, it is important that the experience is analyzed so that future responses can be enhanced. Here is a report on how warnings worked (or did not) on the Pacific Coast of Australia in relation to the tsunami generated by the Chilean earthquake of Saturday. It is a pity that the potential of cell broadcasting that can be targeted to low-lying areas that are in danger, without knowing any of the numbers of the mobile phones belonging to the people physically present and without congestion. The Gold Coast authorities used SMS for 10,000 people.
Helani Galpaya represented LIRNEasia at the 4th International Telecommunications Society (ITS) Africa-Asia-Australasia Regional conference, held on 16 – 18 August, 2009, in Perth, Australia. The theme of the conference was on”Mobile Technology and Broadband Application Developments – The Search for Corporate Value Chains.” More information on the conference is available here. Measuring the Effectiveness of the Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment: Methodology and Results from 8 Emerging Asian Countries Helani presented a paper on “Measuring the Effectiveness of the Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment: Methodology and Results from 8 Emerging Asian Countries” based on findings from LIRNEasia’s TRE study in 2008. She was also a panel member at a policy roundtable on “Investing in African and Asian telecommunications infrastructure during a global financial crisis”.
Interesting route chosen by Australia: taxpayers will fund most of the costs of building the broadband network and the operators, including the formerly government-owned Telstra, will have to buy capacity on it to provide services. Unlikely to be effective in most countries, but Australia along with the Scandinavian countries was among the most advanced in providing services to most citizens during the period of government ownership. Assuming that the backbone is relatively static technology, this might work as well as having a private entity operate the backbone under regulation. Given it will be an essential facility, there had to be regulation anyway. One does have to ask why none of private bidders met the requirements.
The number of subscribers to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) services – a technology that enables broadband access on mobile phones and other computing devices – will more than double next year in Asia, according to a forecast by telco industry group GSM Association (GSMA). In an interview with BizIT, Jaikishan Rajaraman, GSMA director of product and service development, said the number of users in Asia subscribing to HSPA will swell from 26.5 million to 53.5 million over the next 12 months. Fuelling this trend are soaring demand from both businesses and consumers, coupled with falling prices of mobile broadband services, he said.
In addition to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawai’i and the center in Japan, it appears that Australia will also be able to provide early detection data. While Australia will be the main beneficiary of the new centre, upgraded and expanded seismic monitoring will now extend to Indian Ocean countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius and Kenya. “We can be confident now that nearly all these countries have either had their telecommunications upgraded, they’ve had assessment parties go through their countries, (or) their governments because of their loss of life have treated it very seriously.”
The implications of mobile number portability (MNP) were discussed at a Workshop on Implementing Mobile Number Portability, held in August 2007 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The forum, comprising participants from the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, provided insight into the technical, regulatory and operational aspects impacted by the porting process, with a focus on the Pakistani MNP experience. The reasons cited in favor of MNP were classified into advantages to subscribers and regulators. The former were benefited by an increase in choice (of packages) and the eliminated costs of having to inform third parties of a number change, while the latter saw MNP as an approach to attract new investment and generate healthy competition. Operators on the other hand, were split in their views; new entrants and operators with smaller market share were of the view that it would create fair play in the industry, but larger operators with significant market power were, unsurprisingly, against the implementation of MNP.
The days of SMS are numbered now that mobile email access is becoming a commodity, research firm Gartner says. Long the preserve of businessmen in power suits, mobile email is about to hit the masses with one in five email users accessing their accounts wirelessly by 2010, according to Gartner. Monica Blasso, the firm’s research vice-president, said mobile email had moved beyond the BlackBerry and was increasingly a feature of even low-cost mobile phones, driving consumer adoption. “By 2012, wireless email products will be fully inter-operable, commoditised and have standard features,” she said. “They will be shipping in larger volumes at greatly reduced prices.
CITATION for Mahabir Pun Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies Nangi Village, where Mahabir Pun was born, rests high in the Himalayan foothills of western Nepal. Here and in surrounding Myagdi District live the Pun Magar, whose men have soldiered for generations across the globe as Gurkhas. Yet, their worldly careers have done little to change their sleepy homeland, so far from the traffic patterns that knit together the rest of the world. Indeed, Nangi is seven hours’ hard climb from the nearest road. No telephone lines have ever reached it.
Deploying W-CDMA 850 to cannibalise the CDMA mobile as well as to launch 3G without having the so called “3G license” is on the move. Telstra (Australia) and Vivo (Brazil) have done it quite well. Now the French telecoms regulator has approved plans to allow the incumbent GSM network operators to reuse their 900Mhz bands for 3G services.  ART has also announced that any 3G new entrant authorised following the application procedure for the fourth UMTS licence would also have access to the 900 MHz spectrum once it has been returned by the existing 2G operators. Read more.
In one of the most detailed analyses of WiMax issued for Asia to date, the influential investment house says that it is “particularly optimistic about the prospects for fixed WiMax in developing markets in Asia, where the copper infrastructure is too weak or limited to provide broadband services using DSL.” It adds, “We believe that WiMax and other wireless broadband technologies will be particularly successful in markets with low broadband penetration, such as India, Malaysia, China, the Philippines, and Indonesia.” Read more.
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