[By SHARON LaFRANIERE, New York Times, Aug.25.05] This NYT article looks at Africa’s mobile boom, stating that it has taken the industry by surprise; common wisdom was that Africans are not big telecom users. But ‘it turned out that Africans had never been big phone users because nobody had given them the chance.’ Today, one in eleven Africans (roughly 9%) is a mobile subscriber.
by Sriganesh Lokanathan The study has been undertaken in keeping with the proposed 2006 theme of the World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies (WDR), ‘Sector and Regulatory Performance Indicators.’ The definition of standardized benchmark indicators with their respective viable methodologies in the Asian context is required for an accurate comparative analysis of the regulatory and sector performance in ICTs. Recognizing that this constitutes a participatory exercise among experts in the telecommunication industry standards and regulatory affairs, telecom authorities and statistical organizations as well as academics and interested individuals, this preliminary methodology framework document was commissioned to lay the groundwork to initiate and foster active discussion among the aforementioned participants on issues related to the proposed 2006 WDR theme. With these guiding principles, this preliminary methodology on domestic leased line tariffs was formulated since national leased line tariffs is an important indictor of the potential of countries to foster broadband coverage and network expansion. LIRNEasia intends to test the methodology first in the South Asian region and then extend it to the rest of Asia.
The research that is currently being written up by LIRNEasia researchers on ICT use on a shoestring is expected to shed light on fixed-mobile substitution, given the fact that India has been successful in introducing CPP for its mobiles and mobile and fixed outgoing charges have more or less converged. The news story that MTNL, the incumbent in Mumbai and New Delhi, has decided to deploy special teams to halt the ending of fixed subscriptions is good evidence that there is fixed-mobile substitution in India. Caution should be exercised in generalizing from this to other countries where the conditions of CPP and price convergence have not been satisfied.
LIRNEasia, in association with LIRNE.NET, Nanyang Technological University and the InfoComm Development Authority of Singapore is offering an executive course in regulatory strategy in Singapore, Sept 25-30, 2005. This limited-enrollment course is 70 per cent subscribed at this time. Participants representing government, regulatory agencies, telecom operators, universities and civil society from 14 countries ranging from Moldova to the Philippines have already registered. The speakers are confirmed as are the arrangements to visit the InfoComm Development Authority.
CDMA is a big story in Sri Lanka these days. As a result of the frequency refarming process that was started in 2003 with the issuance of 1800 GSM frequencies to Dialog Telekom and Mobitel through an auction, 800 CDMA frequencies were released earlier this year by the Telecom Regulatory Commission. The article by Amal Jayasinghe in lbo.lk provides more detail on how the rollout is proceeding. Shortly after the article was published, Suntel began to offer LKR 1500 discounts, which may be the start of the price reductions I refer to in the Jayasinghe piece.
A Press Conference has been organized by LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation, in collaboration with Sarvodaya, the Sri Lanka National Committee of Large Dams and ITDG South Asia to present an interim concept paper on an Early Warning System for Dam Related Hazards. It was held on August 10, 2005 at the Auditorium, Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. The concept paper was developed in consultation with local and international dam experts. Community meetings were held in three Sri Lankan cities that lie significantly in the flood path of the Mahaweli dam system, Kandy, Gampola, and Polonnaruwa. The purpose of these meetings was to raise awareness of on dam safety issues and to receive input from this most important set of stakeholders.
From the beginning, LIRNEasia was seen as serving/working with three constituencies: government, the private sector and civil society. Accordingly, the initial board of directors included representatives from all three groups. Dr Vinya Ariyaratne, the Executive Director of Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest and most deeply embedded social action organization, has served on the Board from the beginning. With the tsunami and the unprecedented challenges it posed to all organizations in Sri Lanka, the relationship deepened. LIRNEasia‘s Executive Director was invited to serve on the Deshodaya Council (National Reawakening Council) of Sarvodaya, a new body akin to a board of directors in many respects and also to advise the organization on ICT issues.
Dr Huichuan Liu, former Chair of Department of Information and Communication at TamKang University arranged a 3-hour meeting of 8 telecom policy-regulation researchers at the downtown campus of TamKang. Six researchers attended the session and participated actively: Professor Yu-Li Liu, National Chengchi U, Dept of Radio TV; Asst Professor Kuo-Feng Tseng, National Chengchi U, Dept of Radio TV; Associate Professor Eunice Hsian-Hui Wang,Yuan Ze U, Dept of Information Communication; Asst Professor Ying-Hsun Wang, TamKang U, Dept of Information and Communication; Assoc Professor Huichuan Liu, TamKang U, Dept of Information and Communication; Dr YunTsai Jessica Chou, Chairperson, Research Development and Evaluation Commission, Taipei City Government. A photo of the researchers who remained until the very end of the session Given the fact that is in the process of enacting legislation to create a National Communication Commission, LIRNEasia work was of particular interest, especially to the attendees who serve on the committee working on the legislation. Dr Chou arranged for a visit of the Taipei City Government’s WiFi project, which is reported on here.
LIRNEasia congratulates Dr Harsha Vardhana Singh, Senior Economist, on his appointment as Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization. We look forward to continued association with Dr Singh. He will complete the Asian backbone study that he is in the midst of researching before he takes up his new appointment. Understandably, he will not be able to be part of the team delivering the telecom reform course that LIRNEasia is offering in Singapore Septemeber 25-30, 2005. However, we expect we will be able to draw on his broad expertise in the future in research and educational projects.
VSNL Buys Top VoIP Carrier India’s incumbent international operator, VSNL, announced today that it had agreed to buy Teleglobe, the largest international voice over IP (VoIP) carrier in the world — and former Canadian monopoly overseas voice carrier. Should the deal meet with shareholder approval and pass regulatory review, the merged company — which also includes the recently integrated Tyco Global Network — would become one of the largest multinational providers of voice, Internet, and bandwidth services. VOICE Teleglobe became the largest carrier in the 30 billion minute international VoIP market when it acquired ITXC in 2004. Although VoIP represented under 15 percent of the global call market in 2004, it is growing at double to triple the rate of the traditional public switched voice market. Combined with Teleglobe’s wholesale voice operations around the world, VSNL will become the fifth largest carrier of voice minutes in the world.
The Presidential Commission on the Tsunami has been holding public hearings. LIRNEasia and Vanguard Foundation gave evidence last week, 14th of July 2005. Our evidence mostly covered the content and process of the NEWS:SL report, but in addition evidence was given of our experience with the 28th of March event and the earlier difficulties we experienced with the Met Department’s fax numbers not working and e-mail addresses given to Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaai bouncing. The Navy and the Police are being questioned on who knew what when. It looks like the Commission is pursuing an interesting line of investigation.
Chanuka Wattegama presents findings from a benchmarking study of regulatory websites. The objective of this study is to do a performance evaluation of the web sites of the Telecommunication National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) of selected countries in the Asian Pacific region and benchmark their performance as e-government service providers. Slides Points of Discussion: What is the role of a website in effectiveness of an NRA? CW – serves as a window to stakeholders RS – should have website as central organizing factor. organize yourself around putting everything up on the website.
A Participatory Study on Actions Required to Avoid and Mitigate Dam Disasters download document in PDF Executive summary in Sinhala (PDF) Executive summary in Tamil (PDF) The need for this project arose in the course of disaster-management expert consultations carried out by LIRNEasia and The Vanguard Foundation in the preparation of “NEWS-SL: A Participatory Concept Paper for the Design of an Effective All-Hazard Public Warning System” in January-March 2005. The current Concept Paper outlines the contours of an early warning system for dam related hazards in Sri Lanka. It is being developed in a participatory, consultative, and transparent process. This interim draft has been compiled on the basis of research and an Expert Consultation held 20 May 2005 at the Distance Learning Center located on the campus of the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration, with participation from experts representing several decades’ worth of experience in several key Sri Lankan dam administration authorities. This draft is posted for comment.
Thursday, 16 June 2005 The final report from the second World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies research cycle has been released in both print and online formats. Edited by Amy Mahan and William Melody, the 383 page book contains the body of research and country case studies undertaken to investigate issues and perspectives on the theme Stimulating Investment in Network Development: Roles for Regulators. Download or purchase the book on the WDR site.
Voices from Asia-Pacific: Internet Governance Priorities and Recommendations: After almost ten months of research and activities, UNDP-APDIP’s Open Regional Dialogue on Internet Governance (ORDIG*) has produced a two-part report entitled, “Voices from Asia-Pacific: Internet Governance Priorities and Recommendations” – consisting of 1) the ORDIG Policy Brief and Executive Summary, and 2) the ORDIG Input Paper for the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). These documents stem from months of consultations involving stakeholder groups from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society. ORDIG consulted over 3,000 stakeholders through sub-regional meetings, jointly organized with UNESCAP and others; a region-wide online forum that allowed for open and candid discussions on the issues; and a region-wide, multi-lingual, issues-based online survey that looked at the Internet governance priorities of the region. The resulting two reports are the synthesis, consolidation, and reading of the voices from the Asia-Pacific region. They outline the principles and dimensions that make up the framework for building recommendations, which are provided in the documents at two levels – general and specific recommendations.
May 26, 2005 (Economic Times via NewsEdge) India’s Ministry of Finance has asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allocate a 3G spectrum to mobile operators through the auction route. According to the ministry, it is DoT’s responsibility to price spectrum as per international practices, citing the example of Europe and the US, where governments fetched billions of dollars in revenue by auctioning spectrum. The ministry has also said that pricing of spectrum should not be in TRAI’s domain. The finance ministry has taken the position that pricing of radio spectrum is not a regulatory issue, and hence, should not have been referred to the telecom regulator. Instead, it has argued that receipts from radio spectrum should accrue to the government as non-tax revenue.