2007 June


Cambodia’s mobile sector has always lagged behind that of neighbouring countries, and at the end of 2006 Pyramid Research predicted that the market held less than 1.6m subscribers, with a corresponding mobile penetration rate of 11%. However, three new players, Viettel, SLD Telecom, and AZ Communications are all preparing to enter the market which will lead to increased competition with established players Mobitel, Camshin, and Casacom. Pyramid Research believes while new players will undoubtedly drive growth via lower tariffs and increased mobile coverage, six players in a market of 14.3m inhabitants is unsustainable and we do expect some consolidation in the medium term.
In an effort to reduce the nation’s public debt, France’s Finance Ministry has just sold a five per cent stake in France Telecom for €2.65 billion.  Rumours are circulating that the new administration under President Nicolas Sarkozy will sell more holdings in other state-controlled companies, such as the gas and electric utilities and aerospace industry, in an effort to cut taxes by €11 billion and encourage further economic development in France. Read more.
The Arab Advisors Group has devised “Cellular Competition Intensity Index” to rate and properly assess the intensity level of competition in the Arab World’s cellular markets.It has found Jordan maintains top rank followed by Iraq, which impressively jumped to the second rank. Meanwhile on the opposite extreme, Qatar -the last cellular monopoly market in the Arab World- naturally came last in the index.  The index takes into account the number of operators, packages, and services available in each of the 19 countries covered by the Arab Advisors Group in this report, with each category assigned a certain weight according to its importance as an indicator of competitive behaviour.   The categories include the following: Number of licensed and expected operators; number of working operators; market share of largest operator; number of current prepaid plans; number of current postpaid plans; availability of corporate offers; availability of 3G services; availability of operational ILD (International Long Distance) competition.
The mobile market in India is flourishing because of massive increases in mobile subscribers, that are fueling more mobile handset production, says US research firm Gartner. The report adds that the subcontinent produced close to 31 million mobile phones in 2006, valued at around £2.5 billion. India’s 2007 handset production is forecast to be the highest in the Asia-Pacific region at 68 per cent in terms of units and 65 per cent in terms of value, says Gartner. The research house expects mobile handset production to more than triple by 2011 to reach nearly 95 million.
Sri Lankan PC shipments (desktops and notebooks) reached 52,230 units in the first quarter of 2007, which was approximately a 17.5% annual growth rate. Desktop remains the primary form factor as it accounts for almost 87.5% of shipments. Notebooks, however, have been performing relatively well.
Well, we didn’t know we were doing public policy in a Googley way, but we’ve been doing it for 2.5 years and we are happy to have such esteemed company join us! Google Public Policy Blog: Taking the Wraps Off Google’s Public Policy Blog We’re seeking to do public policy advocacy in a Googley way. Yes, we’re a multinational corporation that argues for our positions before officials, legislators, and opinion leaders. At the same time, we want our users to be part of the effort, to know what we’re saying and why, and to help us refine and improve our policy positions and advocacy strategies.
Despite the phenomenal growth of India’s mobile sector, broadband growth has severely lagged behind. Pradip Baijal, the former Chairman of TRAI comments on some of the reasons for this sluggish growth. We always spoken about infrastructure sharing for last mile. The most important infrastructures that can be shared is backhaul infrastructure. BSNL and other operators should be encouraged by the government and the regulator to share the backhaul infrastructure like optical fibre cable, backhaul spectrum etc.
The Drum Beat is a weekly electronic publication exploring initiatives, ideas and trends in communication for development, published by The Communication Initiative. This week’s issue (# 399) focuses on mobile telephony, and is relevant for planning LIRNEasia’s next research cycle. Some of the articles include: Pocket Answer to Digital Divide (Jo Twist) Telecommunications: A Dynamic Revolution (David White) New Trends in Mobile Communications in Latin America (Judith Mariscal and Eugenio Rivera) From Matatu to the Masai via Mobile (by Paul Mason) Wireless Communication and Development in the Asia-Pacific: Institutions Matter (Rohan Samarajiva) The Real Digital Diversity (Seán Ó Siochrú) Must Haves: Cellphones Top Iraqi Cool List (Damien Cave) UK Children Go Online: Final Report of Key Project Findings (Sonia Livingstone and Magdalena Bober) Read more on The Drum Beat
At the Pakistan Telecom Authority-LIRNEasia workshop held in Islamabad on June 14, 2007, the Chairman of the PTA announced the most recent data on the telecom sector in Pakistan.   Given the lack of a definition of a mobile subscriber and evidence that multiple SIMs are being used by individuals, it is LIRNEasia’s practice to refer to mobile SIMs rather than subscribers.  That does not take away from the tremendous achievement of the Pakistan operators and the regulatory agency in increasing connectivity to levels above Sri Lanka and India. Pakistan exceeds in Telecom Regulatory Environment – PakTribune Chairman PTA said that PTA had provided level playing field in different areas of tele use in the country. He appreciated the research activities in communication sector as they motivated to perform even better.
An article entitled ‘Wireless Communication and Development in the Asia-Pacific: Institutions Matter’ by Rohan Samarajiva is featured in The Drum Beat, a monthly e-magazine published by The Communication Initiative. In October 2005, the Annenberg Research Network on International Communication (ARNIC) at the University of Southern California (USA) held a workshop – “Wireless Communication and Development: A Global Perspective” – as part of a multi-disciplinary effort to study the emergence of new communication infrastructures, examine the transformation of government policies and communication patterns, and analyse the social and economic consequences. In this 23-page paper, Rohan Samarajiva, Director of LIRNEasia traces regional trends related to the growth of wireless technologies – computers and telephones – and explores the regulatory and policy environment that is needed to continue to support these technologies’ “enormously important role in extending access to voice and data communications by hitherto excluded groups in society…” Read more…
Please continue discussion from Software Issues in Sri Lanka Part 7, on this thread. This thread is devoted to diverse software issues discussed in the context of Sri Lanka. Please stick to the topic and keep the discussion civil. Previous discussion is archived in the following threads: Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part6 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 5 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 4 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 3 Standardizing Sinhala for IT Part 2 Questioning ICT Myths
The following column on LBO.LK discusses an issue that has involved one of the discussion threads in the website. LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO Recently, the blog has become controversial. Since April 2006, one thread has been used by various persons to discuss Sri Lankan ICT policy issues, with emphasis on the appropriate standards for using Sinhala in computing. Not all the comments on this thread have been rational and civilized and some commenters have engaged in personal vilification.
For World Telecom and Information Society Day, I wrote a column on the wrong-headed telecenter policy being implemented by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka with World Bank funds, where I referred to lessons from South Africa that were taken into account in the design, but ignored in the implementation. Here are some more lessons from Africa: Creative destruction: izi killed the public phones « abaporu project on technology appropriation All of a sudden, users don’t need the ‘public phones’ any more. In Senegal most of these télécentres have gone out of business. Bassirou Cissé, the general secretary of Unetts(*) says that “In 2000, there were 18,000 télécentres in Sénégal, accounting for 33% of the Senegalese operators’ revenues and 30,000 jobs. Today, most of them have closed down.
LIRNEasia is beginning its planning for the next research cycle on mobile multiple play, or how the mobile handset is beginning to emerge as the access point for a plethora of services, of which synchronous voice communication will be only one. Sports news, which Dialog introduced in Sri Lanka around 1998-99, will be an important product. Yes, the Screen Is Tiny, but the Plans Are Big – New York Times ESPN is clearly onto something. More than nine million people visit its cellphone Web site each month, a following that surpasses the audience of most computer-based Web sites. Some sports fans apparently cannot wait to reach their homes or offices to check the score of a Patriots game or to see if their favorite pitcher has tossed a no-hitter, so tens of thousands of them receive an average of 22 ESPN text messages on their phones each week.
LOW-INCOME TELEPHONE USERS IN ASIAHello, can you connect us? By Francis Hutchinson & Lorraine Carlos Salazar, For The Straits Times Source: The Straits Times, June 12 2007 – Review Section See print version NEW research on the use of telecommunications among low-income groups in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand challenges the conventional wisdom that, in developing countries, customers for high- technology goods are to be found only among high-income groups. According to a multi-country survey, the poor are already accessing telecommunications and form a large untapped market with significant unmet demand. This wide and deep client base offers vast opportunities for enterprising telecommunications companies if they can develop appropriate business models to cater to them.
Two new studies call into question whether the USA’s universal service subsidies received by cell phone companies generate benefits for consumers. Specifically, the studies show that subsidized cell phone companies actually provide less coverage than unsubsidized companies serving the same areas, and that there is no basis for wireless carriers’ claims that they use the subsidies to build out coverage to areas that otherwise would not be served. In the approximately 800 study areas where wireless carriers receive USF subsidies, unsubsidized carriers provide substantially more coverage. Unsubsidized carriers cover 97% of the population in these areas, while subsidized carriers cover only 70%. Read more.