No one yet knows the actual composition of the joint venture that will get the fourth license. But the results are already being felt. Starting this month, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), the state-owned operator whose monopolistic rights ended last year, cut its Internet charges from 7 kyat (Bt0.21) per megabyte to 6 kyat. The short message fee was also reduced to 10 kyat, the lowest in the industry.
These comparisons are, of course, problematic. But still engaging especially in the context of the launch of the Alliance for an Affordable Internet. Thailand yields no data. And I assume they work off advertised speeds rather than real . The Economist provides a nice interactive map.
Our argument has been that the principal cause is the lack of terrestrial cables. While prices have declined globally, significant geographic disparities persist. For example, despite falling 22% compounded annually between Q2 2007 and Q2 2012, the median price of a GigE port in Hong Kong has remained 2.7 to 5.1 times the price of a GigE port in London over the past five years.
The quote below comes from one of many media reports that carried the results of RIA benchmarking of mobile prices across Africa. SA’s prepaid cellphone pricing is three times more expensive than Namibia’s, making SA among the most expensive countries in Africa despite an intervention to regulate the tariffs, according to a study released this week by Research ICT Africa. The research found that among 46 African countries studied, SA ranks 30th in affordability of prepaid mobile telephony. This places SA behind countries whose regulators have enabled competition by enforcing cost-based mobile termination rates. Kenya, Mauritius, Egypt and Namibia were found to be the most affordable.
According to the Nokia Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study 2011, Ethiopia’s mobile prices bring it to the very threshold of membership in the “Under USD 5 club” of 11 countries. The TCO in Ethiopia in 2010 was USD 5.02. This is a puzzle and appeared to pose a challenge to the entire explanation of the conditions for the emergence of the BTN business model. Because Ethiopia is a member of another exalted “club,” the “bottom-ten” in terms of mobile connectivity.
A news report indicates that lowering leased line prices (described as commercial broadband in the report has risen on the policy agenda in Sri Lanka. This is excellent news, though, of course, I would have preferred a story in the past tense: i.e., “domestic and international leased line prices have been reduced.” Present broadband charges which are higher than competitor countries are deterring foreign ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms from setting up in the island and are partly responsible for poor internet penetration, a report said.
We were dragged into work on roaming by the SATRC. Our focus was on intra-SAARC call charges, but the then Chairman of SATRC, Mr Nripendra Mishra of TRAI wanted to act on both. So we started. We were more interested in intra-SAARC call charges because it affects more people, and more at the BOP. But looking at roaming prices, one cannot but be outraged.
We documented the research done by Jensen and Aker on the benefits of mobiles to producers and consumers. Now we have a third good piece of research, this time not of decentralized information provision, but of centralized provision in India with the e Choupals. ITC Limited, an Indian company that is one of the largest buyers of soyabeans, felt it was paying over the odds, but was unable to monitor the traders closely. Starting in October 2000 it began to introduce a network of internet kiosks, called e-choupal, in villages in Madhya Pradesh. (Choupal means “village gathering place” in Hindi.
Babar Bhatti, who maintains an interesting website on Pakistani telecom developments, has written an interesting post where he calls for simpler tariff plans. Having seen the graphical presentation of Dialog Telekom’s tariff plans in their nice new publication, 077, I am convinced that there is a need for simplification in Sri Lanka too. Surprisingly, I cannot find the publication, or the graphical presentation of the tariff plans, on the Dialog website. Informed consumers exercising consumer sovereignty are the basis of competitive marketplaces. If they cannot figure out the prices they are paying, how can they be sovereign?