2010 June

When we talk about taking research to policy, we say that it is better to change the way policy makers think than change policy. One of our big wins was the inclusion of sustainable dam safety measures in a USD 71 million World Bank credit to the Government of Sri Lanka. Now we read this in the 2010 first budget speech: Hon. Speaker while expanding irrigation infrastructure, we must also devote adequate resources for the maintenance of both minor and major irrigation systems to ensure their safety and improve water management in downstream development. The government has already implemented a programme to improve dam safety in all major irrigation projects and increase water reservoir capacity.
Hasanul Haq Inu chairs the parliamentary standing committee on telecoms ministry. This treasury bench lawmaker has been critical about the proposed amendments of the telecoms law. Inu’s committee has been scrutinizing the amendments before the parliament approves it. Yesterday he said in a public event, “Such an unfriendly bill must be changed,” according to press reports. Inu has also urged the prime minister “to be careful about the conspiracy against her digital Bangladesh dream.
We’ve been saying that the screen in the hand will win over the screen on the desk for sometime. So it is with pleasure that we note the big boys are coming to the same position. Chattertrap has already caught the eye of Li Ka-shing, a Chinese billionaire who has invested in Facebook and the music-streaming service Spotify. Mr. Li recently led a $1.
We do not normally use the US telecom policy as an example. But this is definitely something to be emulated. The future of Internet access in Asia is wireless. It’s high time governments started on the hard work of refarming frequencies to meet the demand. The Obama administration is seeking to nearly double the wireless communications spectrum available for commercial use over the next 10 years, an effort that could greatly enhance the ability of consumers to send and receive video and data with smartphones and other hand-held devices.
Thirteen young scholars were selected to attend a tutorial and workshop on mobile 2.0 on 21 and 22 June 2010 in Singapore. The event was co-organised by LIRNEasia and the Department of Communication and New Media (CNM) of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The tutorials included topics such as “Communicating for policy influence” and “supply and demand side research”. The workshop included presentations of LIRNEasia’s mobile 2.
The telecoms minister gave audience to all the mobile CEOs and assured them of an “industry-friendly law” yesterday, according to the Daily Star. This meeting was held after the industry had expressed the possibility of legally challenging the proposed amendments of the telecoms law as their last resort, according to Daily Star’s previous report. “We are hopeful that as a guardian of the industry, the telecom minister will look into these issues,” said Zakiul Islam, president of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh. It’s a positive development and that’s how the government and the industry address major issues in a democratic society. The amendments were initiated by an undemocratic regime.
The mobile operators will take the government to the court if proposed amendments of the telecoms law are not rationalized. All the six operators’ CEOs have unanimously announced their “last resort” in a historic press conference on Tuesday (June 22, 2010). Even the state-owned TeleTalk’s CEO, who is a civil servant, has joined the camp of his private sector rivals. This is the first time the usually docile mobile phone industry has threatened legal action against Bangladesh government. Because, the proposed amendments will reshape the regulatory landscape with the quicksand of penalties and landmines of arrest without warrant.
Given the interest rate spread that is generally high, it did not take much effort to make money from banks in Sri Lanka. But state banks are state banks. You’d expect them and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to be highest revenue earners for the government. But nothing can keep up with what the TRC gives the Treasury: It would take 2.3 billion rupees coming from Bank of Ceylon, 1.
The UNP in Parliament on June 11, called for the expansion of mobile phone facilities in the rural areas where by the rural people can make use of their mobile phones for their banking requirements. UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva who was speaking during the private member’s motion moved by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake to extend banking hours from 9 am to 4pm said expanded banking services should be made available to the rural people. “These people have banking too in their pockets in the form of the mobile phones and this should be made use of,” he said. Read the full article here.
I was recently invited by the United Nations System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC), regional office in Bangkok, to present our findings from the Real-Time Biosurveillance (RTBP) Pilot. UNSIC has appointed Dr. David Nabarro, the founder of Flu-Tracker to develop and implement a comprehensive unified strategy for UN  system on pandemic influenza prevention, preparedness and response and increase the effort to control avian influenza. Given the nature of LIRNEasia researchers to speak the evidence as it is and not be superficial as in marketing products, the public and private stakeholders in Bangkok were intrigued to learn of the real intricacies of implementing a systems such the RTBP in India and Sri Lanka. We will continue to collaborate with UNSIC in feeding our extremely rich experiences and implications with possible contributions to their regional good practices documentation due in June 2011.
The Private Bus Operators Association of Sri Lanka has proposed to introduce a service for sale and purchase of bus tickets via mobile phones and/or customized electronic cards. These e-reload passes are readable by the existing GPRS-enabled ticket machines. The current plan is that passes will be in the form of physical re-load cards or mobile phone enabled mechanisms. If mobile phone -enabled, then a whole new window of opportunity emerges for transactions; this could become the most widely used, full mobile 2.0 (transaction-capable) application.
  Gone are days that postal services were an integral part of Sri Lankan culture. According to a recent Postal Department survey, only 11% uses snail mail now, reports Divaina. The drop from over 90% in pre-1978 days is attributed to the widespread use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), including mobile phones, faxes and e-mail. ICTs supplementing age-old postal services too is common. ‘Fax Money Orders’ have replaced the traditional ones.
The Colloquim was conducted by Arusha Cooray from Australia. Joint study by Arusha Cooray, Nirmali Sivapragasam and Harsha de Silva Remittance inflows into the developing economies have increased tenfold from US $31,058 million to US$ 327,591 over the 1990 to 2008 period Initiatives taken by policymakers of  developing economies to promote  the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in particular mobile phones specifically targeting individuals outside the reach of traditional banking services. Benefits of ICT are well documented by the literature. Jensen (2007) – the use of mobile phones by fisherman contributed to a fall in price dispersion and reduction in waste, leading to increases in consumer and producer welfare in Kerela de Silva (2005) – mobile phone based ICTs can reduce information asymmetries in the agricultural market, enabling farmers to reduce transaction costs and search costs associated with locating sales outlets. Sivapragasam, Aguero and de Silva (2010) –  the use and awareness of the mobile phone as a mode of remitting money.
Ranmalee took this photograph of Supun Sudaraka, testing mobile broadband connections on the move, using Mobile AT-Tester, the family of test tools developed by LIRNEasia. Broadband quality testing isn’t a desk job anymore. We simulate real conditions. Unlike in case of fixed connections, mobile broadband usage is always, er, mobile. This was one of the many odd locations we conducted testing.
They love to talk but reluctant to pay. This is how the telecoms minister has characterized almost every organ, including the offices of the President and the Prime Minister, of Bangladesh government. Even the country’s anticorruption department has gracefully joined these disgraced defaulters. The minister has disclosed a long itemized list of unpaid bills amounting almost US$10 million in the parliament. Interestingly, the telecoms ministry is also one of the shameless phone bill defaulters.
LIRNEasia’s advertisements last week, while highlighting the limited usage of Mobile 2.0 services by ‘low income’ users, suggested steps to be taken by regulators/policy makers and operators to make Mobile 2.0 galore. . We think this is the right time for Emerging Asian mobile operators to adopt what we call an Mobile Application Store or ‘App-Store’ model.
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