2011 February


We were dragged into work on roaming by the SATRC. Our focus was on intra-SAARC call charges, but the then Chairman of SATRC, Mr Nripendra Mishra of TRAI wanted to act on both. So we started. We were more interested in intra-SAARC call charges because it affects more people, and more at the BOP. But looking at roaming prices, one cannot but be outraged.
Research Fellow Tahani Iqbal represented LIRNEasia at an mWomen (GSMA) working group meeting in India in late 2010. Several global telcos were also invited to help develop a “business case” for tapping the female market, and to identify what operators were already doing in this regard. Tahani presented data from the Teleuse@BOP studies, which indicates that the “divide” in access at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in most countries studied is clearly narrowing, with men and women talking as much as each other on the phone. Though there are pockets where the access divide is severe  (e.g.
The Colonel and his “LSE-educated” son have gone beyond any proportion long ago. Shooting and bombing the citizens of Libya (by the mercenaries) have not been working. Now the father and son are getting mad as their days are getting numbered. Following the footsteps of  deposed Egyptian neighbor, the Colonel first snapped his country’s Internet. It hasn’t worked.
A paper by Ailieen Aguero and Harsha de Silva on Bottom of the Pyramid expenditure patterns on mobile phone services in selected Emerging Asian countries has recently been featured on mWomen’s website. mWomen is a part of the GSMA that focuses on improving women’s access to mobile phones in developing markets.
The purpose of SAARC is defied, in terms of electronic connectivity. The lack of uniformity and transparency in international voice tariffs has been ongoing despite the Colombo Declaration of the 15th SAARC summit. The disparity is more so for international roaming. The most recent benchmarking report published by LIRNEasia demonstrates the inconsistencies. On average Indian roamers are offered some-what low tariffs while roaming within South Asia.
Crimes are committed. They should be prevented. If not, criminals should be punished. Someone must be held to account if the government cannot catch the criminal. Why not the telecom operator whose phone the criminal used?
LIRNEasia conducted a major study on the safety of the 350 large and medium sized dams and the 12,000 small dams that dot the landscape of Sri Lanka in 2005. In our little way we contributed to the initiation of a project to repair 32 of the most seriously impaired large dams. In the aftermath of 200 plus dams breaching and many others having to be subject to radical measures to save them in the recent dual floods, the issue of dam safety has risen on the public agenda a little. We hope it stays there. Appears that aging earth dams that are in danger of breaching is not a problem unique to us.
I was asked today by a reporter whether the Sri Lanka market could support another entrant. I answered, but wasn’t sure it would be carried accurately. Therefore, here is the answer. The market should determine the number of suppliers in a market, not government officials. This requires two things: (1) an orderly policy on market exit, whereby, for example, suppliers have clear rules on what can be done about the assigned spectrum, existing customers, and so on; and (2) transparent license and renewal procedures that allow for as many licenses to be issued as possible within the constraints of spectrum.
LIRNEasia’s IAB member and close collaborator Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala has written a thought-provoking op-ed in the Times of India: Black money thrives in the cash economy. If we introduce traceability in financial transactions, it will be difficult to hide. We can do this using some simple available technologies. It is possible to carry out all transactions in electronic form, where money is transferred from the payer’s bank account to the payee’s. The back-end core banking system of almost all banks allows that.
The Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union is elected every four years by governments who have paid their dues to the Union (or have had it paid on their behalf). This does not make him a natural advocate of anything revolutionary. Yet, this is what he says: There is no alternative, suggests the secretary general. “Once people have tasted the goodies of education and communication you can’t cut it off. If you cut it off you’re gone, and that’s what happened in Egypt,” says Touré.
Did China shut down the telecom system during the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989? There was no Internet to shut down back then. This time around, they seem to be adopting a gradualist response, according to NYT: The words “Jasmine Revolution,” borrowed from the successful Tunisian revolt, were blocked on sites similar to Twitter and on Internet search engines, while cellphone users were unable to send out text messages to multiple recipients. A heavy police presence was reported in several Chinese cities. In recent days, more than a dozen lawyers and rights activists have been rounded up, and more than 80 dissidents have reportedly been placed under varying forms of house arrest.
Countries that have a level of international connectivity above that of Burma and North Korea have so far been subject to Gyanendra’s Law. You pull the kill switch. You look for a new job. Now Muammar Qaddafi has decided to the test the law. Libya’s main Internet service provider, General Post and Telecommunications Company, began to cut Internet access on Friday, said Earl Zmijewski, general manager with Internet monitoring company Renesys.
When government goes online, what happens to citizens who are not? This was central to our thinking when we designed e Sri Lanka. That is why such importance was placed on voice access, on the government information center. But it looks like it has not been fully thought through in the US, according to this NYT story. “You often hear people talk about broadband from a business development perspective, but it’s much more significant than that,” Mr.
Ever since Harvard Forum II, Randy Spence and I have been kicking around Amartya Sen’s notion that ICTs have a net positive liberating potential. I have been the skeptic. But evidence is adding up in Randy’s column: For some of the protesters facing Bahrain’s heavily armed security forces in and around Pearl Square in Manama, the most powerful weapon against shotguns and tear gas has been the tiny camera inside their cellphones. By uploading images of this week’s violence in Manama, the capital, to Web sites like YouTube and yFrog, and then sharing them on Facebook and Twitter, the protesters upstaged government accounts and drew worldwide attention to their demands. A novelty less than a decade ago, the cellphone camera has become a vital tool to document the government response to the unrest that has spread through the Middle East and North Africa.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, delivered a lecture entitled, “Asia: Broadband & forms of government intervention” on the 15th of February at the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. His presentation examined Korea’s benchmark model of broadband access and adoption, its success factors, and the extent to which it could be replicated in Asia. He contrasted it with Hong Kong’s market-centric approach that had achieved the same results, faster and with less resources. Click here to view the full presentation.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, made a presentation on ICT innovations in South Asia at a conference held in Brussels on 16 – 17 February. The theme of the conference was “Asia rise in ICT R&D – Looking for evidence: Debating collaboration strategies, threats and opportunities”. More on the conference can be found, here. Click here to download presentation slides.