Quality of Service

We spent a lot of time thinking about service-quality in relation to electricity and telecom services in 2012-14. We organized the 2013 SAFIR core training course around the theme of service quality. But the work has more to contribute. The current controversies around private medical education has brought to the fore many neglected issues related to service industries, including the question of service quality or standards. The op-ed seeking to respond some of these erroneous claims states: As shown by the example of automobile service above, the burden on the regulatory agency is much less when competition exists.
When I was last in Myanmar, 3G was said to be available, people had smartphones, but congestion made connecting a challenge. It appears the operators are responding. According to Takashi Nagashima, CEO of MPT-KDDI-Sumitomo joint operations, the network improvement plan kicked off on November 6. The capacity of congested 3G sites in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw was expanded. Capacity of those sites is now about 50 per cent higher than before November 6.
The unpredictability of what large numbers of people do with their wireless devices when in a crowd has caused problems ever since wireless became the preferred last mile solution. But there is a solution on the horizon? A recent demonstration in San Francisco showed off a technology that Steve Perlman, a serial entrepreneur and inventor who sold WebTV to Microsoft for more than $500 million in the late 1990s, contends will give mobile users far faster cellular network speeds, with fewer dropped phone calls and other annoyances, even in stadiums and other places where thousands of people use mobile phones at the same time, Nick Wingfield reports. In the demonstration, eight iPhones played different high-definition movies from Netflix at once, all receiving the video wirelessly. Rather than causing the local network to stumble under the strain of so much data jamming the airwaves at once, the video played on all the screens with nary a stutter.
In 1998, I was trying to improve the atrocious quality of service offered by Sri Lanka Telecom. My efforts included persuasion: I brought in a quality advocate from BC Tel, a Canadian telecom operator, and organized a public lecture. There, I recall responding to the main criticism made of my efforts by SLT engineers that I was imposing unrealistic American standards of quality on Sri Lanka. I said that no one obtains a phone to keep in the house as an ornamental object; that they went to all the trouble of obtaining a phone in order to talk to people and for that, they needed dialtone. You can imagine my surprise when I see a New York Times writer saying that fixed phones in America are becoming ornamental objects.
When we started on measuring broadband quality back in 2007 along with our colleagues from IIT Madras, there was little else beside speedtest. Then the FCC got on the bandwagon. Now another tool. Everyone talks about being more customer-centric these days. And the incentive for focusing on customers is growing in part because customers are becoming more empowered by technology than ever – even when it comes to things like guaranteeing broadband connectivity levels.
Earlier this year the TRC appointed a special committee to develop broadband in Sri Lanka. Possibly based on its recommendations the TRC has issued new directives on broadband, placing emphasis on customer’s right to know, an approach we at LIRNEasia also promoted a few months prior to the constitution of the committee. The guidelines had been issued in August. We regret not giving them publicity at the time. With the intention of raising awareness among broadband subscribers, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has issued a set of guidelines for broadband service providers.
We reproduce fully below, Carlos A. Afonso’s post to a thread on Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility responding to discussions at the IGF workshop “Expanding broadband access for a global Internet economy: development dimensions”, in which Rohan Samarajiva, Chair/CEO LIRNEasia was the keynote speaker. We retain the original title. As neither we nor most of our readers do not have access to the thread it was posted, we like to continue the discussion here. __________________________________________________________________ Hi people, I come from one of the ten largest economies in the world, with nearly 200 million people, 8.
In the third round, LIRNEasia has extended the testing to one more location. With that we have tested two packages in New Delhi (MTNL and AirTel), two in Chennai (BSNL and AirTel), five in Colombo (SLT ADSL, Dialog WiMax, Dialog 3G, Dialog 3G Unlimited and Mobitel Zoom 890) and two in Dhaka (SKYbd and Sirius). A strenuous task for five teams, no doubt, who took readings at different times staring from 8 am and went up to 11.00 pm (some had to spend nights at offices) but results are worth the effort. What did we learn?

Regulation by the crowd

Posted by on February 5, 2009  /  0 Comments

In conventional thinking, complex industries with oligopoly characteristsics such as telecom require regulation by specialized agencies.  Interconnection must be ensured; spectrum must be managed, etc.  In addition, information asymmetries between operators and customers necessitate a degree of regulation of matters such as quality of service, billing accuracy and truth in advertising.  For example, the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka has had a consumer relation unit since 1999. However, many regulators do not perform their functions satisfactorily.
At the end of a long day at Telecoms World South Asia in Dhaka, I presented some of the preliminary results of the Broadband QoSE work being done with IIT Madras. I talked about the finding that the bottleneck in Chennai and Colombo appeared to be the international segment and that the first results from the testing done in Dhaka suggested the same applied to Bangladesh, with the ISPs using satellite (versus undersea cable) were suffering very high latencies. The CEO of a Pakistan ISP, Mr Wahaj us Siraj, said that the situation in Pakistan was very different, with plenty of capacity available on the undersea cables and low contention ratios (1:4) being used. Prices of international capacity had come down radically in recent times, he said, and now amount to only around 25 per cent of costs. I responded that we need to start testing in Pakistan soon, because this further illustrates the value of the AshokaTissa methodology, which allows the diagnosis of where problems exist which may vary from location to location.
Rohan Samarajiva has been invited to speak at the 2008 Telecoms World South Asia Conference, to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 7 – 9 October.  This event, designed for South Asia’s top telecommunication players interested in building and managing a business-focused telecommunciations organization, is intended to provide an important platform for information exchange through dialogue between serious players in the region. The event will feature keynotes, thought-leadership presentations, interactive discussion panels and real-world case studies on ‘hot topics’ pertinent to the South Asian industry. Rohan will make a presentation entitled, ‘Introducing broadband: investment conditions, regulatory challenges and addressing QoS’ at a session entitled, ‘Exploiting technologies for future growth and development’.  Rohan will also be among panelists at a discussion on ‘Leveraging on next generation technologies to extend the service offering’.

Download caps in the US

Posted by on August 31, 2008  /  0 Comments

One of the key debates on broadband is between those who believe in “all you can eat” service packages and pricing and those who do not.  Our research so far indicates that broadband can only be provided to the Bottom of the Pyramid using the same kind of business plans that were effective in providing mobile service to the BOP, that is, not all-you-can eat. Comcast, a leading US ISP, has just announced caps on downloads.  If this is the future for rich country users, can there be any doubt about what the future for BOP users in poor countries?
Ten years ago, pretty much all the traffic went through the US Internet backbone. Today, claims are being made that only 25 per cent of traffic is routed through the US system. This may require changes in LIRNEasia’s (and Singapore’s) efforts to improve broadband quality of service experience through benchmark regulation or otherwise, using as one of the measures, Round Trip Time to the Internet cloud, defined as first point of landing in the US.  An alternative will not be easy to come by, but we have faith in the wisdom of the many.   Please contribute.
LIRNEasia’s ‘Rapid Response Program’ is exactly what the name suggests. We react to immediate information needs of telecom regulators, at short notice. The response might not be lengthy and as comprehensive as we would like it to be, but nevertheless helpful, as Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) have realised. LIRNEasia saw BTRC’s move to issue three new Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licenses a positive development, as Bangladesh is certainly not a country that can boast of quality and affordable broadband. This is what we learnt from our research: Exceptionally high cost of broadband remains a key barrier that prevents the development of the BPO industry in Bangladesh.
To an ordinary observer the image on left looks like some monkeys but to Nuwan Waidyanatha that is his complex Early Warning System. Monkeys act as sensors and detectors of hazards (aka a leopard) to deer – who would take immediate action for mass evacuation. Again the image on top right look likes a damper to any engineering student, but to Nuwan that is mass evacuation. The figure below might explain it better with the blue line representing a quick but rough evacuation and the red line a smoother one. What does this figure has to do with Broadband QoS?
Broadband QoSE testing is generating interest. A news report on ‘Times of India’ yesterday  (April  7) suggested the site www.speedtest.net to determine connection speed. This site, like many such others available on web, lets a user to ping to a selected server to check the throughput.
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