2010 October


Verizon will pay the U.S. Treasury $25 million on top of more than $52 million in refunds to consumers for overcharging them. This penalty and refund are due to the operator “erroneously” overcharging the customers for mobile Internet use. The FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement the $25 million settlement was the largest in the FCC’s history.
We’d be lucky to be able get wireguided communications to 10 percent of homes in the countries we work in. But we can reach 75 percent plus homes with wireless even now. So we’re all for getting fiber to neighborhoods and are quite agnostic about the access network as long as it’s wireless. In places where they got money, life is not that simple. The bills to pay for those who get the answer wrong are quite high.
Intriguing idea reported by the Economist about breaking down work into small chunks and getting people to send it back using their mobiles. The polling feature developed for LIRNEasia by Respere could fit into this easily, though Eagle may have done that in his application. Mr Eagle hopes txteagle will do its bit by mobile “crowdsourcing”—breaking down jobs into small tasks and sending them to lots of individuals. These jobs often involve local knowledge and range from things like checking what street signs say in rural Sudan for a satellite-navigation service to translating words into a Kenyan dialect for companies trying to spread their marketing. A woman living in rural Brazil or India may have limited access to work, adds Mr Eagle, “but she can still use her mobile phone to collect local price and product data or even complete market-research surveys.
“We told you so.” We said that the last mile was the key to saving lives; that focus had to placed on getting the warnings out to the potentially affected people; that they had to be trained to react appropriately; that all the fancy technology in and under the sea would come to nought if these key actions were not taken. Our collaborator Nalaka Gunawardene says it again in a SciDev piece worth reading: “What failed was the education process ­ only some of the people fled to higher ground and one of the boats put to sea immediately after they felt the earthquake ­ the right thing to do in these circumstances. Why wasn’t everyone well prepared to respond given the recent history of earthquakes and tsunamis in the region?” Nalaka Gunawardene, director of TVE Asia Pacific, a not-for-profit media group, hinted at underlying problems with the system’s suitability for its environment.
You meet new people. You add them in facebook. You chat with them, tag them in pictures, comment on their status updates  and share information. Some of us even have our twitter account in our business card. So people may follow you and you may follow anyone whom you think is interesting and/or is informative.
It’s an interesting example of how sharply the neighbors at both the banks of English Channel differ from each other. Last month the French regulator, ARCEP, claimed that 3G coverage in 900 MHz is worse than 2100 MHz. We are clueless about the methodology of ARCEP’s survey. The law of physics, under no circumstance, could be customized in France. Meanwhile, the UK regulator, Ofcom, has changed its position on refarming the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum for 3G services.
15,000 km of fiber is pretty significant for a country the size of Sri Lanka. But this is exactly what the CEO is promising (and 10,000 is already in the ground). The beauty is that the whole thing has been done on a commercial basis with no subsidies, aid or whatever (though one could argue that the slowly disbursed universal service money generated by incoming and outgoing international calls could have contributed). In 2002-04, I was involved in planning a World Bank financed USD 20m subsidy scheme intended to accelerate the build out of fiber to cover the entire country (at that time we only had two rings, the larger connecting the Central Province to Colombo, and the smaller a metro ring around Colombo). Due to multiple factors, this component of the e Sri Lanka initiative never got implemented.
Yesterday, LIRNEasia launched UNCTAD’s Information Economy Report 2010: ICTs, Enterprises and Poverty Alleviation in Sri Lanka at a well-attended news conferences in Colombo. The first of the news reports, from LBO, is excerpted below: Use of mobile phones has helped Sri Lankan farmers get better prices for their produce and the technology can help reduce poverty, according to a new United Nations study, officials said. “There is an informational dimension to poverty – poor people need lots of information for their livelihoods such as on market prices, inputs, weather,” said Sriganesh Lokanathan of LIRNEasia, a think tank which helped prepare the report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. A study done by LIRNEasia on small farmers in Dambulla, an agricultural centre in central Sri Lanka, found that 11 percent of their cost of production goes towards information search, “quite a high percentage,” Lokanathan said. “Information communications technologies (ICTs) have a role in trying to bridge this information gap,” he told a news conference held to launch the UNCTAD report called ‘Information Economy Report 2010: ICTs, Enterprise and Poverty Alleviation’.
For those who are complacent about the likelihood of tsunamis hitting the coastal regions around the Bay of Bengal, yesterday was another wake-up call. The tsunami, set off by a 7.7-magnitude undersea quake, slammed into the southern part of the remote Mentawai Islands, wreaking havoc in villages and, the authorities believe, sweeping scores out to sea. The islands are a popular destination for foreign surfers, particularly Australians. The surge reached as high as 10 feet and advanced as far as 2,000 feet inland, officials at the Health Ministry’s crisis center said.
Make one from North Korea and you will!Make one from North Korea and you will! In a rare occasion where international journalists were invited to North Korea to cover a week long celebration commemorating the 65th Anniversary of the Workers Party, CNN correspondent Alina Cho got a chance to speak to the public, albeit being watched 24/7. She says, “Most notably, in a country closed off to the rest of the world, North Koreans are now talking on cell phones. This girl says everyone in her family has one.
The telcos and the airlines have been making money “out of the air” worldwide. Both the industries are being troubled by predictable and unpredictable competition from everywhere. Innovation by the industry and policy-rationalization by the governments must be simultaneous to survive this wild wild west. This article addresses the airlines industry but it is also relevant for telecoms.
Future Gov is holding a conference in Colombo 28-29 October 2010. Can’t link to the program as such because that’s how e gov is done, but can get you close. LIRNEasia will be presenting its research anchored to the idea of delivering government services anywhere, anytime, in any official language, something that was developed by me around the time the war ended. The slideset is here.
LIRNEasia has been supporting app stores because we believe this is the solution that reduces transaction costs and mobilizes decentralized innovation. But as the NYT story today shows, it’s not an easy path for developers: Because Google makes its software available free to a range of phone manufacturers, there are dozens of different Android-compatible devices on the market, each with different screen sizes, memory capacities, processor speeds and graphics capabilities. An app that works beautifully on, say, a Motorola Droid might suffer from glitches on a phone made by HTC. IPhone developers, meanwhile, need to worry about only a few devices: iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Payal Malik, Senior Research Fellow, will represent LIRNEasia at an upcoming seminar on “Interconnection in Mexico”  on 27 October 2010 in Mexico City, Mexico. The seminar is being organized by the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C. (CIDE/Mexico) and the Telecommunications Research program Telecom CIDE. The event brings together a select group of government, academy and civil society representatives.
Now that Android has taken a bigger market share than Apple in the smartphone market, the lawsuits are coming hot and heavy, according to the Economist. Eventually, even lawsuits must come to an end. How much harm they will cause remains to be seen. If Apple wins against HTC, that would be bad news for upstart handset firms. Until a few years ago, HTC only made devices for others, but now it has become a brand of its own.
Most people do not associate telecenters with the United States. That’s because they are called public libraries there. The Economist reports that more people are coming to the American telecenters because critical government and other services are increasingly available only through the web and because some people have dropped home connections in the hard times of the Great Recession. The best way for America to ease the new strain on its libraries is by closing the digital divide; companies and state agencies are unlikely ever to give up the efficiencies they won by moving online. Around $7 billion of 2009’s stimulus went to expand broadband access.