Budget Telecom Network Model and analogue remedies

Posted on February 1, 2016  /  0 Comments

Our colleague Nalaka Gunawardene has written a summary/review of the World Development Report which this year focuses on ICTs, and included several references to Research ICT Africa and LIRNEasia research.

Can a budget telecom like model help bring low cost internet within reach of South Asia’s majority of unconnected people? The Colombo-based ICT policy research organisation LIRNEasia has been studying this prospect for several years.

As Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia’s chair, wrote in 2010: “Broadband can be brought to the people by extending and leveraging innovative business models, as has been shown with voice telephony among the poor in South Asia. The lower prices and widespread coverage that are central to the model are also desirable public policy objectives. The key steps in the coming period are the design and implementation of policies and regulatory measures that support and leverage the budget telecom network business model.” [6]

WDR 2016 recognises making the internet universally accessible and affordable as an urgent priority. In recent years, it notes how technology costs have come down, but consumer access costs still vary greatly across countries. This is the result of “policy failures such as troubled privatisation, excessive taxation, and monopoly control of international gateways”.

Since we’ve been too busy to study the report ourselves (a colloquium is scheduled I believe), I’ll simply encourage our readers to look at the SciDev summary and the report. Hopefully, we’ll have a substantive response soon.

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