Asia Archives — Page 3 of 11


For practical reasons, we mostly limit our dissemination to English. This is a workable strategy in South Asia as policy makers read English than local languages. Still local languages are vital in all countries we work. In Bangladesh we gave equal priority to Bangla and English. Research findings of two LIRNEasia’s mobile 2.
The applications are developed, the hardware is ready. Who is not ready are the spectrum managers/regulators of Asia, who have barely started on refarming. Already some of Sri Lanka’s mobile data users are complaining that they cannot connect. The operators need to pay attention and so do spectrum managers. America’s advanced cellphone network is already beginning to be bogged down by smartphones that double as computers, navigation devices and e-book readers.
One expects the Economist to give weight to economic explanations. But not in fluff pieces written over the holiday break. According to the Economist, heavy mobile use is explained by latitude, not the ultra-low prices that are the result of the Budget Telecom Network Model. Yet these global trends hide starkly different national and regional stories. Vittorio Colao, the boss of Vodafone, which operates or partially owns networks in 31 countries, argues that the farther south you go, the more people use their phones, even past the equator: where life is less organised people need a tool, for example to rejig appointments.
Brussels, Nov 25-26 – Third Civil Protection Forum organized by the European Commission. It rains heavily, but fortunately no floods as in Ireland. Ideal environment to discuss disaster risks. I speak at Seminar F titled ‘Innovative Technology for Disaster Management’. I am one of the two speakers from Asia in the entire conference; the other is from Japan.

Verizon gives up on voice over copper

Posted on September 18, 2009  /  0 Comments

India’s MTNL and BSNL have been losing fixed subscriptions for years; Sri Lanka joined the club recently. Now we see the heirs to AT&T throwing in the towel. I guess it was like this when the railways replaced the canals. How long will it take for policy makers in emerging Asia to see where the wind is blowing? Roll over in your grave, Alexander Graham Bell.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia Chair and CEO, made the lead presentation on access to ICTs at an OECD/infoDev Workshop on the Internet Economy yesterday in Paris. The workshop, “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” is currently underway. In his presentation, Dr Samarajiva described the new “Budget Telecom Network Model” developed in South Asia that is enabling mobile operators to serve low-income customers who yield very low ARPUs [Average Revenues per User] and discuss its extension to enable broadband use.  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have offered the lowest total costs of mobile ownership since 2005-06 while still yielding adequate, though somewhat volatile, returns to ensure continued investment in network extension and new services.  LIRNEasia research shows that this has been made possible by business process innovations to reduce operating expenses, and the minimizing of transaction costs made possible by widespread prepaid use.
Helani Galpaya represented LIRNEasia at the 4th International Telecommunications Society (ITS) Africa-Asia-Australasia Regional conference, held on 16 – 18 August, 2009, in Perth, Australia. The theme of the conference was on”Mobile Technology and Broadband Application Developments – The Search for Corporate Value Chains.” More information on the conference is available here. Measuring the Effectiveness of the Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment: Methodology and Results from 8 Emerging Asian Countries Helani presented a paper on “Measuring the Effectiveness of the Telecom Regulatory and Policy Environment: Methodology and Results from 8 Emerging Asian Countries” based on findings from LIRNEasia’s TRE study in 2008. She was also a panel member at a policy roundtable on “Investing in African and Asian telecommunications infrastructure during a global financial crisis”.
  Anybody could have guessed this. It is unimaginable that entire world will go through a recession simultaneously. Not everyone can be losers for too long. There should be winners somewhere. For example, what would the US firms that find their human resources costs, logically do?
Teleuse@BOP3, LIRNEasia’s six country study has shown that between 2006 and 2008 there has been significant uptake of mobiles by the BOP in emerging Asia. Access to computers on the other hand (see here for numbers)  in these countries at the BOP is minimal.  Together with the increasing capabilities of mobiles to deliver an array of services, which essentially boil down to what you can do on the Internet (information publication and retrieval, transactions, etc) this means that much of the BOP will have their first Internet experience through a mobile. The current issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons quarterly magazine highlights LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study findings from India, illustrating this point. Mobiles are now the most common form of communication, pushing public phones into second place… The rapid evolution of the mobile into a multi-purpose communications and knowledge tool combined with its fast adoption by the BOP, means they and the majority of people in the developing world are likely to have their first Internet experience via a mobile.
Nokia, the leading mobile handset maker, is experiencing the effects of the global economic crisis. But Asia is showing the lowest declines. In the three months through March, the company said its profit declined to 122 million euros ($162.3 million) from 1.2 billion euros a year earlier.

Ideas from Africa for South Asia

Posted on April 15, 2009  /  0 Comments

Ideas picked up at Euro CPR from our African colleagues, coming out in multiple fora/countries/forms. Without direct government action, other than enabling policies such as the abolition of international gateway monopolies, and the kind of fuss that has accompanied the regulation of roaming charges within Europe, roaming has been abolished in East Africa. Why not in South Asia? Why can this not be done in South Asia? Telenor has a presence in three of the major markets in the SAARC region: dominant in Bangladesh; significant in Pakistan and getting established in India.
The story is based on US data, but it is still grist for the mill as we think about how the mobile and Internet will change the mediasphere in emerging Asia. We are so smitten with screens that we often can’t bear to choose one over another: 31 percent of Internet use occurs while we’re in front of a TV set. We are also taking an interest in watching video on our phones: 100 million handsets are video-capable.
At Sri Lanka’s largest agricultural market a large projection screen overlooks 12 acres of stalls brimming with produce. Traders at the Dambulla market consult the screen to receive up-to-the-minute pricing information on produce being sold in the market. This information helps them negotiate fair prices at any of the market’s 144 booths, says Harsha de Silva, head economist at Sri Lanka-based LIRNEasia, a non-profit organization and IDRC partner that aims to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the lives of Asia’s people. In the case of the Dambulla market traders, de Silva says farmers can negotiate from a stronger position because information is accessible. Such information is vital to ensuring agricultural markets work efficiently because it helps farmers reduce their transaction costs, according to de Silva.
Unlike in Asia, the price of an individual SMS has increased by 100% to USD 0.20 in the US.  This has happened at the same time as the mobile market consolidated from six suppliers to four.  Naturally, there has been public-policy concern.  In defense of the telecos, it must be noted that most people in the US do not pay on a per-message basis, but get a “bucket” of services including a large number of SMS for a fixed price, so the per-message price is really not relevant to most people.
Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka, was recently elected to the chair of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Committee of ESCAP – the Economic & Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Speaking to Sandeshaya Weeratunga said that “during the past three years computer literacy in the country has increased from 5 per cent to over 20 per cent” He elaborated that the ‘e-Sri Lanka’ initiative has enabled people to obtain authenticated copies of Death, Marriage and Birth Certificates – essential documents within a few minutes. Responding to a question that some rural tele centers have been dysfunctional Weeratunga said there are about 600 Telecenters and it’s not unusual for a few to fall behind. “However we will relocate them if necessary”, he said. Commenting on the Sri Lankan expertise of the diasporas, Weeratunga said that there are those who want to help but in actual fact most of them are really in search of jobs. “We cant pay them the salaries they expect but if anyone wants to genuinely help they could log in to the ICTA web site (www.
Your operator promises you x Mbps. Are you sure he keeps promise? If not, what you miss? LIRNEasia, has been researching on Broadband performance quality issues in Asia. One objective of our work is to create ‘EMPOWERED USERS’ armed with broadband performance information.