General


Colombo, Sri Lanka. 19 December 2005: Sixteen per cent of the revenues of Bangladesh’s Grameen Phone come from four per cent of customers. And they are not the most affluent people; they are village phone ladies. This is one of the key findings of recent research conducted by LIRNEasia. LIRNEasia, an Asian research organization based in Colombo with a particular focus on issues relating to ICTs and development, today released a study titled, “An Investigation of the Replicability of a Microfinance Approach to Extending Telecommunications Access to Marginal Customers” which indicates that the widespread perception that it is not economical to serve “marginal customers”/ the poor is a myth.
As a part of LIRNEasia’s Telecom Use on a Shoestring project, a third country, Bangladesh is studied. While surveys were conducted in India and Sri Lanka, a substantial amount of similar research has already been carried out on Bangladesh, in the context of Grameen’s Village Phone program. Therefore, this part of the study is in the form of a meta-analysis of some of these key studies. A draft is available for comment here: Teleuse on a shoestring: Bangladesh meta analysis v.2.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 December 2005: A recent study has shown that fifty-eight per cent of low-income telephone users are absent from conventional telecom indicators. The study also shows that they are spending more of their monthly incomes than expected on telecom services. The study supports C.K. Prahalad’s claim that there is a fortune to be made at the ‘bottom of the pyramid,’ not only at the top.

Cashing in on the village phone

Posted on January 9, 2006  /  2 Comments

Dec 23, 2005, By: Robert Clark, Wireless Asia http://www.telecomasia.net/telecomasia/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=274336 The UN summit in Tunis last month did not turn out to be the showdown expected between the and the rest of the world.
The 3rd world view Why people still think that there is something good about being undersupplied by local inept monopolies versus getting good service from decent companies is a mystery.  But I guess this kind of thinking is the reason South Asia remains the sick man of the world. 
19 December 2005, Colombo: The telecom subsidy mechanism operationalized through India’s Universal Service Fund (USF) has unduly served the interests of the government owned incumbent telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). For the disbursement of the USF collections operators were asked to bid for the least amount of subsidy they required to roll out in the rural areas. However, the least-cost subsidy auction favored the incumbent and resulted in the attenuation of competition. Prima Facie the mechanism was transparent, but the auction design restricted participation only to operators already present in the defined service areas…… English Press Release: Indian Universal Service Fund experience shows that open access to backbone is precondition for effective use of subsidies that minimize market distortion Research report: Indian Universal Service Fund experience shows that open access to backbone is precondition for effective use of subsidies that minimize market distortion
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 December 2005: A survey of the websites of National Telecommunication Regulatory Authorities in the Asia Pacific region has revealed that six countries – Australia, Hong Kong, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore – stand above the rest, with Pakistan leading. The research was conducted by LIRNEasia, and supported by the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) as part of the research program on regulatory and sector performance indicators in the ICT [information and communication technology] sector…….. English Press Release: Pakistan leads in providing regulatory services on-line
Bangladesh Illegal VoIP operators make fortune as govt stalls licensing Sharier Khan While powerful illegal internet telephony operators keep on draining out hundreds of crores taka each year, the government is delaying the process of awarding licence for VoIP operation on various pretexts ignoring a fresh recommendation of Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Authority (BTRC). The government now says the licence for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will be given after setting up a common platform in four areas of the country under Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) through which Internet phone calls will be channelised. The four areas are Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Bogra. Such a common platform, to be connected to the submarine cable, will not start operation before June next, even if the authorities try their best. The submarine cable project is yet to be completed.

Season’s Greetings from LIRNEasia!

Posted on December 23, 2005  /  0 Comments

Usable Knowledge for Growing the Sector:

Posted on December 20, 2005  /  4 Comments

ICT Policy and Regulation Research from LIRNEasia LIRNEasia showcased its research from the past year on the 19th December 2005 at the Palm Lounge, Galle Face Hotel. CEO’s and Managing Directors of local telecom operators attended, in addition to the regulator and representatives of donor agencies, investment analysts and the media. The presentations are available below. The highlights of LIRNEasia’s first year of Research are available HERE. Introducing LIRNEasia and its 2005 research program Rohan Samarajiva Telecom use on a shoestring: Findings from a survey of Sri Lankan and Indian users on less than USD 100 a month Ayesha Zainudeen & Ayoma Abeysuriya (TNS Lanka); a report on the ‘strategies’ of the financially constrained in the use of telecom services is available on the project page.
Phone subscribers in China may reach 746 million by the end of 2005, of which handset subscribers will approach 400 million and fix-line phone users will exceed 353 million, according to xinhuanet.com. Xi Guohua, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Information Industry, revealed the data at the China Telecom Annual Work Meeting for 2006. Since the competition of handset to substitute fixed-line telephones is intensified growth of handset subscribers continues to surpass that of fixed-line telephone. By the end of 2004 nationwide handset users reached 334.
The research report: An Investigation of the Replicability of a Microfinance Approach to Extending Telecommunications Access to Marginal Customers: the Grameen Approach (version 3.1) is now available for download as a PDF document HERE. The researchers would like to invite comment and discussion.
Mahesh Uppal, Director, Com First (India) and a frequent participant in LIRNEasia events contends that the Indian telecom regulator’s authority and independence have been undermined by recent actions of the Minister of Telecom. T V Ramachandran, Director General, COAI [cellular operators association] argues otherwise and states that the Minister’s actions promote Indian consumers’ interest. We would like to get your view on this subject, please comment below. The full debate is available at the Business Standard. No one’s doubting Maran’s recent initiatives, but the TRAI remains emasculated on critical issues like interconnection and BSNL’s monopoly Mahesh Uppal, Director, Com First (India) “A regulator without robust control of the interconnection regime can hardly ever be effective” Given the tasks before them, of ensuring a competitive and efficient market, telecom regulators can be effective only if they have sufficient say in entry and exit of players and if they can ensure that new entrants can interconnect their networks to the existing network.
Nov 17, 2005, infoDev session, organized in partnership with IDRC    A panel of distinguished experts responded to this broad question dealing with what role policymakers and regulators can play in balancing the public interest and fostering a flexible environment for ICT innovations. Rohan Samarajiva’s response is available as a video. [please allow file to load completely before playing]    Moderator: William Melody, LIRNE.NET, Center for ICT, Technical University of Denmark Panelists:      1. Muna Nijem, Chair, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Jordan 2.

LIRNEasia at WSIS, Tunis, Nov 17

Posted on December 6, 2005  /  1 Comments

Pro-Poor, Pro-Market ICT Policy and Regulation World Summit on the information Society, Matmata Room, Kram Centre Tunis, November 17, 2005, 9:00 – 16:45 LIRNE.NET and the World Dialogue on Regulation (WDR), LIRNEasia, Research ICT Africa (RIA), Diálogo regional sobre la sociedad de la información (DIRSI) Sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and The Information for Development Program of the World Bank (infoDev) 9:00-9:15 Welcome Randy Spence 9:15 – 10.15 ICT Demand, access and usage by the poor Chair: Heloise Emdon, IDRC Telecom Strategies on a Shoestring (Household Income Below USD 100/Month)(PDF download) (LIRNEasia) Ayesha Zainudeen, LIRNEasia team Digital Poverty in LAC (DIRSI) Roxana Barrantes Measuring ICT Access and Usage in Africa (RIA) Alison Gillwald, Christoph Stork 10:30-12:00 Core Networks and Policy Issues Chair: Olivier Nana Nzepa, RIA Having a Backbone; Making Best Use of What You’ve Got (LIRNEasia) Harsha Vardhana Singh, Rohan Samarajiva SADC Universities Connectivity Initiative (RIA) Lishan Adam Telecoms Funds & Regulatory Challenges (DIRSI) Hernan Galperin Universal Service Funds, Access Deficit Charges & Least-cost Subsidy Auctions (PDF download) (LIRNEasia) Harsha de Silva, Payal Malik African Regionalism, National Policy Formation and International Governance (RIA) Lishan Adam, Andrew Barendse 12:00 - 13:15 Extending Access Networks Chair: Ben Petrazzini […]
The Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) organised a seminar on ‘Submarine Cable Connectivity: National Readiness’  in Dhaka on the 2nd of December 2005.  Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director of LIRNEasia delivered the keynote speech at the seminar (read more in The Financial Express and The Daily Star). A short article based on the keynote speech will be published in the national newspapers shortly, through LIRNEasia’s Rapid Response program, supported by IDRC of Canada.