The telecom and broadcast licensing regime in Sri Lanka is obsolete. Broadcast licenses are issued under obscure provisions of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Acts. The licenses have no terms and fees are to be informed in the future. Telecom service providers, including Internet Service Providers, are licensed under section 17 of the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act, No. 25 of 1991 as amended.
In November 2013, the Myanmar Ministry of Communication and Information Technology called for comments on a set of draft rules that would govern the liberalized telecom sector. LIRNEasia submitted Comments on Draft Rules Dec 2013_1 covering all but one of the topics.
Total Telecom gives details of the licenses that will be issued in Myanmar upon the completion of a three-stage process. Technology neutral is good. How much spectrum per license is not stated. If it is 5 MHz, as the rumor mill says, it is unlikely that the government’s objective of 80 SIMS per 100 people can be achieved. After the 4 April deadline, the Committee said it will reveal the applicants that have qualified for the next phase of the licensing process, stage three, which will decide which two companies will be awarded the licences.
Internews is a US based organization that engages in hard work of helping the producers of news and information do their jobs better. Not in the space that LIRNEasia occupies, so our interactions have not been many, but my impression has been of people who are trying to make a difference by working at ground level, quietly. Therefore, I took seriously the op-ed written by its CEO on Myanmar. Here is an excerpt. For now, the reforms and the apparent end of censorship have unleashed a veritable media gold rush in Myanmar.
Having a customer-centric sector seems a good idea. The Ministry seeing its primary function as that of taxing operators a tad problematic. What is a public switchboard telephone network? But this is what is trickling out of Myanmar. “The Department of Posts and Telecommunications will be coordinated by the Ministry of Communications, Posts and Telegraphs, which will tax operators,” U Kyaw Soe said.
In May LIRNEasia responded to a consultation on proposals for VAS licensing in Bangladesh. Our response received wide coverage too. It appears that we (among others) may have influenced the government’s response, as reported in the Daily Star. The telecom ministry will form a five-member panel to examine the issues related to mobile phone value-added service (VAS). The decision came yesterday at a meeting attended by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and ministry officials and representatives of mobile operators and content developers.
One hopes that the new law takes into account all the lessons we have learned in telecom reform in Asia in the past few decades. According to Nomura, a new telecom law, which could allow for more licenses (up to 5) and direct or indirect foreign operator participation, is currently in final stages of drafting.The telecom sector in Myanmar is likely to be on the radar for most telcos for incremental investment. Unstable politics and bottlenecks, including: 1) high handset prices ($45-600); 2) SIM registration cost of $150-200; 3) long waiting periods (up to 2 years) and connection hurdles; 4) poor networks and coverage; and 5) lack of competition have hampered growth. The government is now targeting 50 percent wireless penetration by 2015, implying a 50 percent CAGR.
Response to the Draft VAS Guideline (BTRC/LL/VAS(391)/2012, dated 31-01-2012) LIRNEasia is a regional think tank that has, among other things, conducted research on VAS in Bangladesh. The comments below are based on (a) examination of the policy, regulatory and business issues pertaining to mobile VAS in the context of LIRNEasia’s 2008-2010 research program on mobile 2.0; and (b) detailed analysis of the practical experience of CellBazaar, a successful VAS developed in Bangladeshi conditions. The peer-reviewed journal article on a successful Bangladeshi value-added service, CellBazaar, is attached. LINK.
Board of Investment has granted approval to a sixth mobile/ 5th fixed operator. The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to a new mobile (GSM) and fixed (SCDMA) telecommunications network provider. Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman / Director General signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to Mr. B.
Few weeks ago I wrote a column about a surreptitious attempt to impose a draconian regulatory regime on TV, cable, satellite and mobile broadcasting. A post in this blog discussed the implications for convergence. There was also a high-profile Sinhala language op-ed that contributed to framing the ensuing debate in relation to a 1997 Supreme Court decision and the recent cancellation of a radio license (rescinded when the owners joined the government party). Now the Supreme Court has stayed the regulation. A victory, I guess.