General Archives — Page 50 of 244 — LIRNEasia


The New York Times carries this fascinating story about Hike, a new app that is being driven by Sunil Mittal’s son. Those who consider every smartphone app as a mortal threat to the telecom business should read this. In a first for messaging apps, Hike allows its users to send free text messages to people who use “feature phones” —low-end devices that lack a smartphone’s ability to download apps — and to people who usually keep their phones’ Internet connection turned off to save money. It allows chats within groups of up to 100 people, and transfer of large files, a useful ability for students exchanging homework files. India is the third-largest smartphone market by sales, after China and the United States, and since the end of last year it has been the fastest growing.
Governments provisioning e government services have to address two specific policy principles with regard to infrastructure: ensure universal access to their services and assure a higher level of reliability than with comparable private services. I will leave the second principle for later discussion. Unlike a decade or so ago, governments today do not have to rely solely on common-access centers (telecenters) to provide universal access. In most countries, mobile signals cover a significant proportion of the population and prompt policy action can increase the percentage quickly; many households have at least one electronic access device; the few that do not, can gain such access. Today’s smartphones have capabilities little different from the early telecenters, except for functionalities such as printing, scanning, etc.
It appears that unlike the previous government that was not of one mind regarding the centrality of mobiles, the new government has accepted it. The Digital India project that aims to offer a one-stop shop for government services would use the mobile phone as the backbone of its delivery mechanism. The government hopes the Rs 1.13-lakh crore initiative that seeks to transform India into a connected economy to also attract investment in electronics manufacturing, create millions of jobs and support trade. In an interview with ET, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to ensure a smartphone in the hands of every citizen by 2019.
It now appears that a month’s lead amounts to one million customers. While there is no bar against those customers also obtaining Telenor, MPT or Yatanarpon SIMs, one would have to conclude that not all will, giving Ooredoo a distinct advantage. While Ooredoo has focused on second-generation cellular, Telenor’s SIM cards will work with any GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone (2G and 3G). Furberg insisted there would be enough SIM cards to meet demand and their price would remain at 1,500 kyat (Bt49). A voice call should cost no more than 25 kyat per minute, he said.

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.