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Posted on December 20, 2005  /  4 Comments

ICT Policy and Regulation Research from LIRNEasia

LIRNEasia showcased its research from the past year on the 19th December 2005 at the Palm Lounge, Galle Face Hotel. CEO’s and Managing Directors of local telecom operators attended, in addition to the regulator and representatives of donor agencies, investment analysts and the media.

The presentations are available below. The highlights of LIRNEasia’s first year of Research are available HERE.

  1. Introducing LIRNEasia and its 2005 research program
    Rohan Samarajiva
  2. Telecom use on a shoestring: Findings from a survey of Sri Lankan and Indian users on less than USD 100 a month
    Ayesha Zainudeen & Ayoma Abeysuriya (TNS Lanka); a report on the ‘strategies’ of the financially constrained in the use of telecom services is available on the project page.
  3. WiFi Innovation in Indonesia
    Divakar Goswami. More information is available on the project page.
  4. Microfinance and the creditworthiness problem: Lessons from Grameen
    Malathy Knight-John (IPS), Abu Saeed Khan & Ayesha Zainudeen. The complete report is available HERE
  5. Universal service funds and access deficit charges: How to do it right
    Payal Malik (UoD) & Harsha de Silva. The complete report is available HERE
  6. The importance of backbone
    Rohan Samarajiva. More information is available on the project page.
  7. Least cost subsidy auctions: Getting the conditions right
    Harsha de Silva. More information is available on the project page.
  8. Assessing regulation: First cut
    Chanuka Wattegama (UNDP); The complete report is available HERE

See Photos from the evening HERE


  1. The news stories are beginning to come out.

    Sunday Observer, Business Pages. Main Story

    People of Jaffna are the highest telephone users and spend more than 12% of their monthly income on telecommunication, a study reveals.

    They are highly dependent on mobile phones and account for the biggest demand for international calls. The study conducted by LIRNEasia, an Asian research organisation based in Colombo conducted a study of telephone use of people whose monthly income are below Rs. 10,000 in Badulla, Colombo, Jaffna and Hambantota districts.

  2. Another news story generated by the news conference in the Sunday Times of 15 January 2006:

    Unlicensing WiFi would enable quicker bridging of digital divide
    By Akhry Ameer
    Sri Lanka would experience a greater pace in bridging the digital divide by unlicensing the internationally accepted WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) frequency bands used to access Internet or network connections without wires. A recent research by LIRNE Asia finds that countries in the region that have unlicensed WiFi frequencies are connecting rural parts quickly due to the cost-effectiveness of the technology.

    In Sri Lanka, WiFi is still used to connect users wirelessly to private networks or the Internet within a limited area of up to 15km known as ‘hotspots’. Although encouraged by the global WiFi Alliance for countries to unlicense the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and allow for free usage the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) of Sri Lanka hasn’t yet done so. This has restricted these frequencies being limited to access the Internet only at the airport; public places like coffee houses and shopping malls; and some offices.

    As the WiFi bands are licensed to fewer operators it is technically illegal for Internet Service Providers (ISP) and community organizations to use this technology to connect rural areas of the country. WiFi networking technology is cheaper than wired networks as it alienates the need for laying cables to provide last mile access from the main fibre optic cables to homes and other institutions that need Internet access. Since many countries have already unlicensed these frequencies the popularity of this technology unit costs for equipment to connect through these frequencies has lowered unit costs dramatically.

    “WiFi deployment in Indonesia is extensive and covers more than 40 towns and cities in a number of different islands,” according to Divakar Goswami, lead researcher at LIRNE Asia. Indonesia recently unlicensed the 2.4GHz band for use by WiFi networks. Similar growth is beginning to take place in India and Bhutan, the least developed country in the South Asia region as a result of unlicensing. In Indonesia ISP’s have made use of WiFi technology creatively to overcome an issue of high costs involved deploying leased lines – high capacity cables that are rented out for exclusive use by ISP and other organizations that require broadband Internet access.

    The ISP’s have used WiFi as a substitute to connect remote parts to the nearest high capacity fibre-optic backbone or leased line circuit to bring down prices. Annual leased line costs for a 2MB link for 2km is around US$18,000 as against US$376 and US$6,518 for India and Sri Lanka, respectively. This learning could also be applied to Sri Lanka according to the researchers in place of high-cost alternatives like satellite links employed by ISP’s and telecom operators.

    A local case for the unlicensing of the wireless frequencies has also arisen in the village of Mahavilachchiya off Anuradhapura. This village was unheard of until the launch of the eSriLanka initiative. The village through the efforts of a single individual saw the growth in usage of computers by children. Today, with 50 computers the village children are sometimes breadwinners of their families developing websites for foreign clients. Mahavilachchiya’s success story has attracted international funding and support in various forms. However, the children still have to travel to their school to connect to the Internet that was established through funding. Although new funding has been committed to connect the 50 computers in the homes of the children through WiFi, an annual license fee of Rs. 55,000 to operate a wireless Internet network is restricting its implementation.

    A recent development of the WiFi technology is WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Micro Wave Access), which is used to provide broadband connectivity to customers by using microwaves. This technology enables voice, high speed Internet connectivity, email, fax, data and services such as audio and video streaming. WiMax uses 3.5 GHz frequency band and is used widely in India, Thailand, and the Philippines. This technology is particularly used to provide broadband data (or Internet) connectivity to remote areas. As opposed to WiFi, which covers a 15km range, WiMAX reaches up to 50km enabling to provide coverage a city with a single antenna.

    Locally, Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) recently announced testing of WiMAX technology with temporary frequencies obtained from TRC. If successful, Sri Lanka will witness a spurt of new Internet users and possibly alternative services such as digital television according to SLT officials. However, the commercial deployment of such a network rests on TRC approval.

  3. Today WiMax is been replaced by the latest wireless standard which is Wireless N generation which offers three times the speed of the wireless G generation.

  4. One of the strong points of how the 802.11 family of standards have evolved is that the newest standard is backward compatible with the existing standards. Hence, 802.11n is compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g. So there is no replacement of existing standards by the new standards, which allows you to run a 802.11b laptop on 802.11g wireless router.

    You probably may have mistyped WiMax, do you mean Wi-Fi? WiMax standards were agreed upon only a few months ago and the first commercial products are yet to hit the store shelves, so there is no question of WiMax being replaced. Moreover, Wi-Max belongs to a completely different family of standards (802.16) from Wi-Fi (802.11). Wi-Max is also more suited for long-haul comunication than Wi-Fi.

    There is also some confusion with regarding to speeds in the above post. 802.11g throughput is 54 Mbits/s compared to 802.11n which is 100Mbits/s. So speed is about twice that of g standard.