There has been considerable discussion in Sri Lanka about the need to unlicense the 2.4 GHz band used for WiFi. The Director General has assured that a Gazette reducing the license fees to LKR 100 is on the way (it would good if this can be posted on the TRC website).
While this constitutes significant progress and is indicative of the progressive approach of the current leadership at the TRC, the fact remains that a license fee of LKR 0 with a postcard notification, or complete unlicensing is the right solution. A user will have to spend hours if not days especially if he/she lives outside Colombo) fullfilling the requirements of a s. 22 license; transaction costs will exceed the LKR 100 that is to be charged
Nepal, a country that has been wracked by political uncertainty and definitely behind Sri Lanka in regulatory and sector performance is about to leapfrog the TRC according to the report below:
Parliamentary Committee directs Nepal Government to let people freely use the WiFi (2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz) Bands.
August 17, 2006
After a two hours discussion at the Development Committee of the parliament today, the committee gave directives to Ministry of Information & Communications (MOIC) and Nepal Telecommunication Authority to de-license the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) bands using 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz frequencies. Moreover, the committee gave instruction to clarify policies in order to make computer to computer VoIP legal. At the start of the meeting, Mahabir Pun, team leader, Nepal Wireless Networking Project, gave detailed presentation about the accomplishments of the project to the members of parliamentary committee, and government officials present in the meeting. He made clear that restrictions on the use of equipment using those frequencies was the major obstacle for the advancement of Information and Communication Technology in Nepal. Minister of State, MOIC, Dilendra Badu, informed the meeting about his recent knowledge on the topic and it was he who wanted the committee to deliberate on it and make a recommendation.
Suresh Kumar Pudasaini, Chairman, Nepal Telecommunications Authority, the Telecoms regulator, said “NTA has already sent it’s opinion on the opening of ISM band frequency for general use to the ministry, but the ministry has not made any decision”. He further added that he has been constrained by his own boards inaction and in-decisiveness on the issues related to VOIP. He had already taken the issue to the board thrice in a row, and blamed his board members for not enacting a decision on it. He had his own grievances towards the Ministry. While he had the rights to issue any form of license and set tariff, on even simple issues related to communications with different ministry of Nepal Government, he had to route it via a junior officer at the MOIC. He later commented that if such situation persists, government should just practice what it does and make NTA just a department under the ministry.
In the same meeting, Mr Satish Kharel, a lawyer, challenged the joint secretary of the MOIC, Mr. Shohan Bahadur Nyachon, when Mr Nyachon tried to mis-direct the group by saying there were prohibitory regulations. Mr. Kharel asked which regulations, and displayed a copy of regulations, only to be meet with silence. MP Raghuji Pant, shared his experience how bureaucrats always tried to mis-lead ministers most often by giving false interpretation of legal and technical issues. It was revealed that the decision on Frequency was under the domain of a committee formed under the chairmanship of the Minister of Communication with the secretaries of Home, Communications, Defense, Tourism along with the Chairman of Nepal Telecoms Authority. On this point, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, MP Tanka Rai, said that since all members of the frequency committee were present at the meeting, if there were any objections from them. All the concerned secretaries said they had no objections, on which Chairman Rai gave direct instructions to the Minister to publish the necessary directive on the Gazzatte and bring and end to the matter.
Further, Mr. Pun from Nepal Wireless Networking project warned the group that if only NTA and service providers were involved in policy formation, the general users may be left high and dry again, so appropriate caution should be exercised so that the general public also has the rights to buy and use equipments in the ISM bands.
In the end, Chairman MP Tanka Rai, said that there should not be any hindrances in the development of ICT sector and everyone should work towards rapid development of such technologies in the country.