CHAKULA is a newsletter produced by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Named after the Swahili word for ‘food’, it aims to mobilise African civil society around ICT policy for sustainable development and social justice issues. The latest issue features an e-interview with LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, but it is not the only reason why we thought of highlighting the issue. The content is interesting and very readable. We publish two e-interviews from July 2010 issue here fully, as they are not available on public domain.
The UK regulator, Ofcom, has proposed cuts in interconnection fees (also known as mobile termination rates), the wholesale charges that operators make to connect calls to each others’ networks. It has unveiled plans to cut the rate in stages from 4.3 pence ($0.065) per minute to 0.005 pence per minute by 2015.
One of the greatest contributions that can be made to help people pull themselves out of poverty is to facilitate safe, secure, low-cost transactions. Mobile payments which are potentially accessible to almost the entire populations of emerging economies need to be encouraged in this regard. At the beginning of the year, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka indicated it will be making policies for mobile payments. Not having seen much activity on this front, we facilitated a contribution from Muhammed Aslam Hayat, a legal expert currently based in Bangladesh but with extensive regional experience. It was published in the Financial Times, 12 July 2009.
Sri Lanka is a small and densely populated country. When the oldest mobile operator (started business in 1989) says that it is adding 40 towers a month, it shows a real hard push to increase coverage in rural Sri Lanka. The reward is reaching 2 million customers and high customer satisfaction ratings, according to the CEO. Sri Lankan mobile operator Tigo, a unit of Millicom International Cellular, said it had reached two million subscribers in 2008 after heavy investments to expand its network coverage. A statement from the company, formerly known as Celltel Lanka, attributed the growth to “network expansion, the strength of the brand and excellent customer service.
China’s telecommunications supervisor on Wednesday issued long-awaited third-generation (3G) mobile phone licenses to three mobile operators, a move that is expected to lead to billions of dollars being invested in building new networks. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said China’s biggest mobile operator, China Mobile, was awarded a license for TD-SCDMA, the domestically-developed 3G standard. The other two main carriers, China Telecom and China Unicom, received licenses for the US-developed CDMA2000 and Europe’s WCDMA, respectively. The 3G high-speed networks can handle faster data downloads, allowing handset users to make video calls and watch TV programs. Read the full story in China Daily here.
According to TelecomTV, TeliaSonera is acquiring controlling interests in Spice Telecom, the second mobile operator in Nepal and Applifone, the fourth largest operator in Cambodia. This is an intriguing development from a company many thought was withdrawing from the South Asian region. A few years ago there were well publicized negotiations to sell its stake in Sri Lanka’s Suntel, which is believed to have failed for the lack of a high-enough bid. TeliaSonera and its predecessor entities have not shown the nimbleness of its Nordic competitor, Telenor which has strong positions in South and South East Asian countries. One hopes it will.
Dr Hans Wijayasuriya, the CEO of Dialog Telekom, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile operator, gave an illuminating talk on his company’s BOP strategy on the 27th of September, at the Central Bank lecture series. He claims that his company was the first in the region to move away from a focus ARPU to a profit-per-minutes focus as early as 1997-98. Here is another mobile operator who is doing well with a similar strategy. Telecoms in the Caribbean | The Irish are coming | Economist.com Digicel has prospered by introducing modern technology and innovative services into stodgy, uncompetitive markets.
Today, at a ceremony to sign a large number of investment agreements at the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, it was revealed that Bharti Airtel, Sri Lanka’s fifth mobile operator, is planning to invest USD 150 million. This amount is below industry expectations and suggests that Bharti will start slow, with a conventional rollout concentrated in the Northwestern, Western and Southern provinces. Pity.
Informa: TM doubles international budget Telekom Malaysia (TM) has earmarked to spend MYR8 billion (US$2.3 billion) this year expanding its international mobile businesses in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which is considerably more than the MYR2.8 billion it spent on its overseas units last year. TM chief executive Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar said TM’s foreign operations are expected to make 30% of group revenue this year, compared with 25% in 2006. However, the group is planning to trim its 87% stake in Sri Lankan mobile operator Dialog Telekom to not less than 80%, Wahid is quoted as saying.
telecomasia.net | Mar 05, 2007 A new report has revealed that monthly ARPU is declining globally, but the gap between operators with the world’s highest and lowest monthly ARPU remains huge. The research study from analyst firm TeleGeography showed that based on a data set of more than 130 mobile operators, ARPU fell by an average of 6.4% between September 2005 and September 2006. “Not surprisingly, providers with higher ARPU tended to be in countries with relatively high incomes — predominately in Western Europe and the US,” the report stated.
Dhaka, Nov 13 (bdnews24.com) — Telecom Development Company Afghanistan reached the mark of one million mobile subscribers on October 30. With the brand name “Roshan” or light, the second mobile operator rolled out services in June 2003. “We are very excited and proud of reaching the million subscribers milestone,” said Karim Khoja, chief executive of Roshan. In more than three years, Roshan reached the mark, beating first mobile company in Afghanistan, the Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC)— 20 percent owned by the government.
LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO The above column presents evidence to the effect that: “Given enough time and competition, reformed infrastructure does reduce disparities among regions. The reforms that started to have effect in the mid 1990s, with the licensing of the fourth mobile operator and the two fixed entrants in 1995-96, the partial privatization and managerial reform of Sri Lanka Telecom in 1997, and improvements in regulation starting from 1998, did result in allowing the rural people of this country greater access to telecom services. Of course, it must be noted that the dazzling growth in the Northern Province (Jaffna and Vavuniya districts) was only made possible by the cease fire agreement of 2002, the lifting of the nonsensical ban on mobile telephony in conflict areas, and the courageous decision by Dialog Telekom to provide service in that region within three weeks of the signing of the CFA.”