General


Indian regulator leaves OTT alone

Posted on August 20, 2014  /  1 Comments

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided not to regulate over-the-top (OTT) providers, such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. The mobile operators claim that such apps will annually cost them  over US$822 million in lost revenues, as subscribers prefer to use free voice and messaging apps. Therefore, they demanded to regulate the OTT providers either for a revenue sharing scheme or a fee system. The TRAI, however, believes that mobile operators recover their losses through growth in data revenues. As a result, the regulator has decided not to take any action against the OTT providers.
Usually one has only the time stipulated in the consultation paper to prepare a response. In this case, the Chair is giving extra time to intervenors to get organized. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chair Rahul Khullar on Wednesday said the authority would come out with a consultation paper on broadband next month. The objective of the broadband consultation paper would be to revisit the broadband target identifying right broadband technologies, involving private and public participation, and achieving new milestone in a cost-effective way. Speaking at an ASSOCHAM event today TRAI chairman said India needs new policies in place to achieve the goal set by the new government.
The policy statement of the new government headed by Narendra Modi promised to continue the NOFN initiative and work toward a Digital India: “We will strive to provide Wi-Fi zones in critical public areas in the next five years. My government will rollout broad band highway to reach every village and make all schools e-enabled in a phased manner. … Social Media will be used as a tool for; participative governance, directly engaging the people in policy making and administration.” It appears the first public WiFi zone has been implemented at Khan Market, a pricey shopping zone frequented by expatriates. The second site in Connaught Place.
Well before zero rating, poor people in Indonesia were telling us how they used Facebook, a few minutes after telling us they were not Internet users. This seemed like a choice they had made. We reported it, and actually made it a part of the argument we used to beat back the misbegotten effort by ETNO and friends to impose sending-party-network-pays on the Internet through WCIT. At that point, no one complained about how wrong it was that the Indonesian poor was not using the full range of knowledge and information available on the web. But now they are.

Chinese cloud service companies

Posted on August 15, 2014  /  1 Comments

Are still slow, but how will they be lagging behind? And once the Americans screw up the data confidentiality safeguards, cost may be the decider. In terms of performance, Alibaba cannot come close. For a Chinese site, it does impressive work, handling $5.8 billion in commerce on China’s heaviest shopping day.
We’ve been writing about the dangers posed by the governments of the places where data are stored wanting access. Now, with US courts trying to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction, it looks like China might be a safe place? Apple Inc has begun storing personal data for some Chinese users on servers provided by China Telecom, marking the first time that the company has stored user data on mainland Chinese soil. Apple attributed the move to an effort to improve the speed and reliability of its service. It also represents a departure from the policies of some technology companies, notably Google Inc, which has long refused to build data centres in China due to censorship and privacy concerns.
I think it’s perfectly alright for consumers to boycott various products. That’s almost part of consumer sovereignty. When we buy one thing, we don’t buy its substitutes. But the 969 boycott in Myanmar has an added twist. The anti-Muslim hatemongers are asking their followers to refuse to answer calls from Ooredoo numbers.
Last month in Yangon, I said to a group of Parliamentarians that I hoped there would be no SIM riots in Myanmar similar to those that occurred when competition was introduced in Bangladesh and Pakistan. A riot is a crude response to a mismatch of supply and demand. Looks like the mismatch exists in Myanmar, but that the people are a lot more sophisticated. They have created a secondary market and are making money from the mismatch. Much better response to toppling tables and breaking glass.
It’s been sometime since we wrote about cheap feature phones for the BoP. Around seven years, if my search does not mislead. But here goes Microsoft. We wish them success. The company billed the €19 device as “the most affordable mobile phone with video and music player”.
On the face any money coming into Myanmar to help develop its creaking infrastructure is good. When the money is given on concessionary terms, it appears even better. But it is important to look beyond appearance. Will it harm competition, which is the government’s chosen (and proven) instrument to develop the ICT infrastructure? Japan said Saturday it will extend a total of ¥10.
A chain is as strong as the weakest, I keep saying. The speed of the communication link as the speed of its slowest link. As long as signals that travel at the speed of light within fiber optic cables have to be converted to electronic signals to traverse semiconductors, that is the speed of the communication. This is about to change . .
On 8th August 2014, LIRNEasia held an event titled “Big data for development: Responsible use of mobile meta-data to support public purposes” in Negombo, Sri Lanka that was attended by all the MNOs in Sri Lanka as well as MNOs/ industry representatives from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The purpose of the event was two-fold: Show how mobile network big data could provide timely and policy relevant evidence for development using illustrations from Sri Lanka and elsewhere; and Discuss the draft guidelines developed by LIRNEasia for how MNOs could share their data with third parties using it for public good, whilst also minimizing the harms from such big data analytics. This event was the first in a series of steps that will hopefully lead towards the adoption of voluntary guidelines by MNOs to facilitate such activity. The presentations from the event as well as the draft guidelines are below. The agenda is available HERE.

Attention economy and Facebook

Posted on August 3, 2014  /  1 Comments

One out of six minutes on Facebook for average Americans. With women spending four times the time. Consumer brands, from the beer giant Budweiser to start-ups like the clothier Trunk Club, want to reach people where they are spending their time. More and more, that place is Facebook. In June, the social network accounted for about one of every six minutes that Americans spent online, and one of every five minutes on mobile phones, according to comScore, a research company.
Usually, profits go to those who take the risks and do the work. What is MPT’s contribution to the JV? Being “the industry regulator,” which I hope is a misstatement of facts? Contributing the land and existing assets? Middle management?

Free Facebook on Ooredoo Myanmar?

Posted on August 2, 2014  /  1 Comments

Myanmar Times carried a long interview with Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Ross Carmack that appears to suggest that Facebook access will be free. Or is it only during the promotional period? The pre-kick off promotional offer is for the price of a SIM, which will be K1500 to you, the customer, for that price between the August 2 and midnight on August 14 you will be able to consume for free 900 minutes of calls from Ooredoo Myanmar to Ooredoo Myanmar customers, 900 SMSs again for free, 90 minutes of calls to other networks, including MPT, for free, 90 SMSs again for free and 20 megs of data for free every day, which when you use it up is the end of it. Except for one thing: it comes with free Facebook. So all you can eat Facebook when you stay on the net in Facebook.
I thought they’d launch on a weekday, but they went two days early and launched August 2nd, Saturday. Better earlier than late. When I was talking about this with the Parliamentarians, I said I hoped the companies would take steps to avoid the “mobile riots,” we had witnessed elsewhere in the region. Perhaps the early launch on a weekend was intended to do just that. Perhaps this is another example of learning from the errors made by others in the past .