It appears that Myanmar’s universal service strategy has been finalized. Our work was represented in the draft that was put out for comments, but we made additional comments on that draft, which are here. Current mobile networks cover over 90% of Myanmar’s population, but the government believes the USF will be necessary to fund the development of network towers in unserved areas. Through the project the government is targeting 94% population coverage by the first quarter of next year and 99% coverage in the future. Once basic infrastructure is deployed to the rural areas, more advanced telecommunications services can be introduced in the future, the report states.
The fourth operator in the now mature Myanmar telecom market is Mytel. Sometime back I wrote about its secret sauce. In addition to confirming the use of military facilities, the company says that it will gain access to AAE-1 to ensure a good Internet experience for its customers. The Star High – MEC connection gives MyTel access to 1,000 towers and over 13,000 kilometres of fibre, plus other MECTel telecoms assets, thus transforming the viability of the business case for the new market entrant. According to an MPT spokesperson “As a general principle, the idea is to leverage MECTel’s assets, at least those ones that can be commercially used, as well as the existing subscriber base”.
We can offer up systematic reviews. But it seems like a good old fashioned story may be more effective. When the storm hit, some of the younger, more tech-savvy residents had snapped photos of the giant hailstones and the damage they had caused. The photos, of hole-filled roofs and wind-bent buildings, were uploaded to their personal Facebook accounts, and widely shared both in Myanmar and abroad. The first donors to arrive in the village were responding to nothing more than the pictures they had seen on Facebook.
Earlier today, I made a presentation at a well-attended lunch-time seminar at the LKY School at the National University of Singapore on the work done by LIRNEasia’s systematic review teams on mobile phone impacts in rural areas, mobile financial services and ICTs in the classroom. Sujata Gamage, the leader of the education SR team, presented the education section. The slides are here. Perhaps the most interesting thing I took away from the discussion was that generally SRs tend to systematically confirm what we already know. At most, like with our SR which showed that the evidence of impacts from mobile-based information services was not solid, it questions established knowledge.
I was in Thimphu, speaking to more than half of the small regulatory agency’s professional staff. I’ve been engaged with BICMA since its inception in 2001 and I routinely volunteer to do something with the staff when I visit. This time, I offered to talk about systematic reviews, centered on one that we completed recently on the economic benefits of mobiles in rural areasbust re Bhutan had spent 80 percent of its universal-service funds on rural rollout and BICMA was interested in demonstrating to government what impacts the rollout had achieved. I guess the most effective in terms of persuading politicians would a new study that specifically looks at the results in Bhutan. But given the nature of this Himalayan country, around 800,000 people distributed across a series of valleys that are separated by mountain ranges, this would be a costly exercise.
I’ve seen larger numbers being thrown around but this seems to be the component that the Indian Department of Telecom will control through its BBNL special purpose vehicle. The Rs 20,100 crore national broadband network will serve as a countrywide optic-fibre pipe to provide high-speed internet connectivity across rural India while the Rs 30,000-crore-plus wifi-based e-services project aims to create a commercial ecosystem to recover the costs of building such rural broadband infrastructure. Since the national broadband project is likely to see a 40% cost-escalation to nearly Rs 28,000 crore, the combined capex and opex cost of executing both projects is internally envisaged at roughly Rs 60,000 crore by DoT. “Currently, BBNL’s role is purely B2B (business to business), in that, it will be a bandwidth supplier to telcos who will eventually ride on the national broadband network to deliver services. But if BBNL is also required to deliver broadband services, its business model will have to migrate to the business-to-consumer (B2C) format,” said another DoT official aware of the matter.
Nalaka Gunawardene asks good questions. So I paid attention when he tweeted: Where does urban end & rural begin in #lka? Not silly admin demarcations, but in REAL terms? What decides: Tele-density? Purchasing power?
In April 2012, LIRNEasia participated in a regional FAO workshop held in Bangkok. The workshop brought together representatives from the agriculture ministries/ departments of 10 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam), FAO personnel as well as the private sector, including operators of Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS). The official workshop proceedings are now available, with a chapter dedicated to LIRNEasia’s survey findings on the use of ICTs by the BOP. The report articulates the need for clear policies and the benefits of public-private partnerships in creating viable, sustainable and importantly reliable Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS-s).
When government goes online, what happens to citizens who are not? This was central to our thinking when we designed e Sri Lanka. That is why such importance was placed on voice access, on the government information center. But it looks like it has not been fully thought through in the US, according to this NYT story. “You often hear people talk about broadband from a business development perspective, but it’s much more significant than that,” Mr.