I spent the past two days immersed in a new subject: elections management. We have been engaged in one of the hardest public policy puzzles, that of improving Sri Lanka’s electoral system, since early 2015. As a result of that engagement, I was invited to participate in a vulnerability assessment of Sri Lanka’s election management system. Seventeen aspects of the election management system ranging from the way counting was done to legislation governing elections were discussed in detail. External experts had interviewed various stakeholders (interlocutors, they were called) and prepared a report.
At the opening, Sunil Bharti Mittal had announced that Airtel was raising prices. And I was the lead on the panel of tariff regulation on the second day. I was ready for fireworks, but it was sedate. Only spark was on why roaming prices were not regulated. I first talked about where prices levels were: South Asia with the lowest prices for voice (Bangladesh was the cheapest, though many Indians insist they are).
The release of Thai TRE results by the principal researcher from TDRI, Dr Deunden Nikomborirak, and myself last week has resulted in significant media coverage, including this piece in the Nation (though I would have preferred a milder headline). A survey of Thailand’s telecom regulatory and policy environment (TRE) has given the country a score of only 2.7 out of five points, with implementation of interconnection singled out with a low ranking of 2.59 points. In the wake of the survey, criticism has been levelled at the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
LBO.lk has carried a report on the TRE results for Sri Lanka, in relation to comparators. I understand this will also come out on TV on Lanka Business Reports. The telecom survey was conducted in seven countries including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The survey systematically captures the perception of operators, vendors and public interest groups at top management level.
The Telecom Policy and Regulatory Environment survey results have been carried in the Economic Times in India. India’s regulatory regime has been found to be the best for mobile phone tariffs but the 2G spectrum allocation controversy has pulled it down in a recent perception survey of seven nations conducted by telecom regulation and policy study firm Lirneasia. “In India, the regulator does not regulate most of the prices where as in other countries, we surveyed, there are regulatory interventions,” Payal Malik, senior research fellow of Lirneasia told PTI. India scored 3.9 for mobile phone tariffs on scale of 1 to 5.
According the LIRNEasia’s 2011 Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey, stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Indonesia have identified the telecom regulatory environments in their countries as improved since 2008, the last time the survey was carried out. In contrast, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines have seen the regulatory environments decline in effectiveness, while Thailandremains more-or-less the same. The TRE Survey asks senior level stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the telecom regulatory environment in the fixed, mobile and broadband subsectors along a Lickert scale of 1 to 5 (1 being highly ineffective and 5 being highly effective, with the mid-point of 3 being considered average performance). Seven different dimensions of regulation (market entry, tariff regulation, interconnection, universal service, anti-competitive-practices, quality of service) are evaluated by the stakeholders. This year, 349 responded participated in the 7 countries.
The results of the newest TRE survey conducted by LIRNEasia are out. We started the survey since before the start of LIRNEasia and have improved it since. The results were released in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at a well attended media event on 12 May 2011. The centerpiece was the sector performance report on Bangladesh by Faheem Hussain, Ph.D.
When discussing our Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) indicator, we first introduce the concept of regulatory risk. I emphasize that it is not limited to the regulatory agency’s actions, but to all government actions that have a bearing on the operation of the company. The list of woes afflicting Vodafone in India is illuminating. “The combination of the capital gains tax, uncertain regulation and the very tough competitive environment has caused investors to say it wasn’t great timing” to do the deal, said Robert Grindle, an analyst with Deutsche Bank in London. Still, he said, “India is one of the fastest growing assets in Vodafone’s footprint, and without the contribution from India the company would have much lower top line growth than it does.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia’s CEO, delivered a keynote address at the recently concluded South Asia Mobile Summit, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 21 – 22 October 2009. The two-day event was organized by the South Asia Mobile Forum, a consortium of telecom industry players in the SAARC region, with the aim of creating a platform for market, institutional and technological issues to be discussed and progress made. Rohan made a presentation on South Asia’s Budget Telecom Network Model, that has been adopted by many regional telcos in providing voice services to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), and how the same can be applied to broadband services as well. The presentation drew on findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP, telecom regulatory environment (TRE) and mobile benchmark studies. The full presentation can be downloaded here.
Helani Galpaya represented LIRNEasia at the 4th International Telecommunications Society (ITS) Africa-Asia-Australasia Regional conference, held on 16 – 18 August, 2009, in Perth, Australia. The theme of the conference was on”Mobile Technology and Broadband Application Developments – The Search for Corporate Value Chains.” More information on the conference is available here. Measuring the Effectiveness of the Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment: Methodology and Results from 8 Emerging Asian Countries Helani presented a paper on “Measuring the Effectiveness of the Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment: Methodology and Results from 8 Emerging Asian Countries” based on findings from LIRNEasia’s TRE study in 2008. She was also a panel member at a policy roundtable on “Investing in African and Asian telecommunications infrastructure during a global financial crisis”.
Proceedings from LIRNEasia’s Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) dissemination event, held on March 6th, 2009, have been published in Voice&Data, India’s leading magazine on the business of communications, and also LIRNEasia’s collaborating partner for the event. Over seventy key experts of the telecom industry participated at the event, with aim of understanding and sharing the key challenges in the Indian policy and regulatory environment and the solutions available. Delivering the keynote address, RN Prabhakar, member, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India explained the challenges faced by a regulator during the course of development. The event saw the release of the TRE survey, jointly presented by Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik. A panel discussion on ‘Challenging Policy and Regulatory Environment,’ was also held.
Detailed findings from LIRNEasia’s Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) study conducted in 2008, have been published in Voice&Data, India’s only magazine on the business of communications, including analyses on the business, technology and regulatory aspects of Indian telecom and networking: Telecom growth is phenomenal in some emerging nations of the Asia Pacific region, but the risk attached to investments in each country varies. Pakistan scores the highest in five parameters, while India tops in one in the Telecom Regulatory Environment survey. Read the full article here. Findings from the TRE study were presented in Delhi, India, last week, at a panel discussion, co-organized by Voice&Data.
LIRNEasia will present findings from the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) 2008 study at a panel discussion today, in Delhi, India. Organized in association with Voice and Data, the event entitled, ‘The Challenging Policy and Regulatory Environment’, will be held at Le Meridien Hotel, Delhi from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.