United Kingdom

Francis Boon presented the LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya conducted feasibility study at the CDAC Media and Tech workshop in London.
The LIRNEasia and Sarvodaya conducted feasibility study to integrate the Freedom Fone Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System with the Sahana Disaster Management System was presented at the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) technology fair. The congregation took place in London, UK, March 22 & 23. Brenda Burrell (Technical Director Freedom Fone), residing in Harare and I in Kunming, were invited with very short notice and couldn’t acquire visas to UK on time. However, our colleague in Oxford Francis Boon (Sahana Software Foundation) was able to fill our shoes given that he was already attending and presenting at the conference. Click to view the slides used to ignite the crisis management relevant message.
The colloquium was conducted by Harsha de Silva, PhD. Harsha began by explaining that the paper focus both on trains and buses, but in this colloquium will focus on the Bus transport. 75% of passenger transport is via public transport and of that 93% by bus and 7% by train. Roughly 5500 SLCTB and 18000 private buses. The fare is regulated by National Transport Commission (NTC).
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.
The colloquium was conducted by Nalaka Gunawardena. The colloquium began by Nalaka explaining the big picture; Climate change and energy use.  Global warming is not new but the rate of global warming is. There is a multiplicity of gases causing global warming and their sources. Looking at the Green House Gas (GHG) mix, Carbon Dioxide is dominant.
Brussels, Nov 25-26 – Third Civil Protection Forum organized by the European Commission. It rains heavily, but fortunately no floods as in Ireland. Ideal environment to discuss disaster risks. I speak at Seminar F titled ‘Innovative Technology for Disaster Management’. I am one of the two speakers from Asia in the entire conference; the other is from Japan.
“I can’t imagine how and based on what measure TRAI set 256kbps internet connection as broadband. It’s very difficult for users to work with this speed. Please don’t compare Bangladesh and Sri Lanka while setting standard for India.” This was how a reader responded when Indian Express online carried a story on the dissemination of the findings of LIRNEasia’s broadband research at the GRT Grand Hotel convention centre in Chennai on November 3. Another story in ‘The Hindu’ quoted Timothy Gonsalves PhD, Head of Computer Science and Engineering Department, IIT-Madras, our research partner from IIT Madras saying the implication [of the latency introduced by complex routing of network traffic] for consumers is that though a user may get close to the speeds advertised by the operator while accessing servers within India, the download speeds from an international server for even a supposedly fast broadband connection would only be in the 200 kbps range.
To many people’s surprise, the UK has decided to tax every fixed line 6 pounds a year to build “next generation broadband” throughout the country. But Virgin’s network is limited and fibre-optic cables are expensive. The two firms can profitably reach only around two-thirds of the population, reckons Matt Yardley of Analysys Mason, a consultancy that helped to prepare the report. Connecting the rest at high speed will cost around £3 billion. So Lord Carter surprised the broadband industry by proposing a £6 annual tax on telephone lines, raising around £150m.
The OECD countries are racing toward a broadband solution based fixed access, ADSL, Cable or FTTH. THE number of people subscribing to broadband in OECD countries increased by 13% last year to 267m. More than a fifth of the combined population of the 30 mostly rich nations in the OECD now have high-speed access to the internet. The broadband penetration rate is above a third in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Adoption is lowest in poorer countries such as Mexico, where just over 7% are broadband subscribers.
In the course of her research on India’s telecom policy and regulatory environment, LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow Payal Malik calculated the HHIs for different circles in India and found them to be very low.  Drawing on other TRE research and the literature, she has made a comparative assessment of the level of competition in India and a prognostication on the direction of mobile tariffs in an interview with the Economic Times. Lirneasia’s senior research fellow Payal Malik had published the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) – the index for market concentration – in the telecom markets of South Asian countries, last year. Lower the HHI, higher the competitiveness in a market. India’s turned out to be the lowest at 2000, as compared to Indonesia’s 3400 and Thailand’s 3900.
All UK homes should have access to broadband and faster download speeds by 2012, the government has said. An interim report on the UK’s digital future also looked at plans for public service broadcasting. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said digital technology was as important today as “roads, bridges and trains were in the 20th Century”. But the Conservatives said the report promised “no new action”. The Lib Dems said it was a “complete damp squib”.
Dhiraagu, the incumbent telecom operator of the Maldives had its license renewed for a term of 15 years. Since its establishment in 1988, Dhiraagu enjoyed an exclusivity on the provision of fixed line services. It was also the only company allowed to carry international traffic into the island nation and terminate on any network. We are happy to note that the Telecom Authority of Maldives (TAM) has not extended these exclusivities in the new license that will be effective from January 2009. The move should, at a minimum, have an impact on international incoming call prices to the Maldives, since Dhiraagu’s competitor Wataniya will now be able to carry inward bound traffic and terminate on any network.
The Ofcom-backed code of practice has won pledges from net firms to give more information about line speeds. Net firms covering 95% of the UK’s broadband users have signed up to the voluntary scheme which comes into force on 5 December. Over the next six months Ofcom will monitor net firms to ensure they live up to their promises. The code of conduct was drawn up in response to research that suggested consumers were confused by adverts that promised broadband speeds that few consumers could achieve. Almost a quarter of people do not get the speed they expect, according to early results from Ofcom research, which is due to be published in full in 2009.
A British doctor volunteering in DR Congo used text message instructions from a colleague to perform a life-saving amputation on a boy. Vascular surgeon David Nott helped the 16-year-old while working 24-hour shifts with medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Rutshuru. The boy’s left arm had been ripped off and was badly infected and gangrenous. Mr Nott, 52, had never performed the operation but followed instructions from a colleague who had. The surgeon, who is based at Charing Cross Hospital in west London, said: “He was dying.
It is the same story everywhere. Broadband prices are falling, so the early adopters pay more than newbies – unless they switch fast. To make the matters worse, operators have started selling the same packages with new prices – in the same manner an Airline bringing ticket prices down at the eleventh hour to fill the seats. This is the tirade of one user. UK customers are paying 70% more than they need to for their broadband connections despite the credit crunch.
Some regular readers of LIRNEasia blog would just love this news. Internet service providers (ISPs) in UK have just a few weeks to sign up to a voluntary code on the promotion of broadband speeds or the industry will face mandatory regulation, the communications watchdog has warned. Attempts to set up a voluntary system providing consumers with accurate information were failing, Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards told a parliamentary select committee. “This is a near-term issue that needs to be dealt with now and we would like to be able to get the industry to sign up within the next few weeks,” he said. BT, the UK’s largest broadband provider, said it backed the plan.