Bangladesh Archives — Page 7 of 15


Bangladesh government will issue 3,000 – that’s right, three thousand – international gateway (IGW) licenses, said bdnews24.com and the Daily Star. The telecoms secretary would not disclose the “official” fees per IGW license at this stage. But he believes up to US$3,600 of CAPEX will be required for each gateway. Evidently the authorities perceive IGW some sort of a cottage industry.
 We continue to receive media coverage for the Islamabad Mobile 2.0 Applications and Conditions Expert Forum Meeting. M. Somasekhar’s piece on Hindu Business Line on mobile payments says: Experts from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, Thailand, the Philippines, Bhutan and Bangladesh among other nations met in Islamabad recently to discuss their experiences in providing mobile phone services for the BoP segment in their respective countries. They agreed that a beginning has been made and the road ahead appeared daunting, but technological progress promised quick results.

Telecom trumps borders, not

Posted on May 5, 2010  /  3 Comments

Rohan Samarajiva is in Pakistan. Near the border, once marked by Mountbatten’s sharp knife, his cell phone links him to India. Airlines do not understand this proximity. Indian participants, to Expert Forum Meeting jointly organized by LIRNEasia and Pakistan Regulator, first travel led west (3 hours to Dubai) and then east (another 3 hours) to cover 678 km between Islamabad and Delhi – a one hour flight if existed. In the backdrop of Thimpu SAARC summit Rohan asks the same question he has been asking for sometime.
Sending money home has become easier and faster as two banks and a mobile operator yesterday launched a cellphone-based remittance transfer system. The joint move by Eastern Bank, Dhaka Bank and mobile operator Banglalink will allow the remittance receivers to cash in a day instead of three days to one month through different existing channels.  The new service styled ‘Mobile Wallet’, which will also serve the unbanked population at no cost, got a shape after Bangladesh Bank (The central bank) gave a go-ahead to the move a few months ago. Presently more than 90 percent of the population in Bangladesh does not have access to regular banking facilities. Read more.
The cabinet has decided to seize the regulatory functions from BTRC and give it back to the telecoms ministry in Bangladesh. Therefore, the politicians and civil servants will again assign licenses and spectrum. Even worse – they will approve the tariff and services. Welcome to the Stone Age. BTRC was born with a reasonable degree of independence on January 31, 2002.
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.

Population as a growth engine

Posted on March 10, 2010  /  0 Comments

The snap shot age distribution in a population can take three basic shapes. Pyramid is the most common in animal world where reaching the ripe old age is rare. Advances in medicine and economy have changed that in human societies. The pot shape is the best (till is lasts) as the workforce is larger with respect to the number of dependents (old and children). An urn, with a wider top and a bottom is the worst.
I guess that means newspapers in hardcopy. Because many who read the news on the web, actually read news that originates in documents prepared by journalists, like the one below. But still, this is a significant shift. With more people at the bottom of the pyramid in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh owning mobile phones than radios, one wonders who the Internet will beat in our part of of the world: just newspapers or newspapers and radio? The Internet has become the third most popular news platform for American adults, trailing only local and national television stations, according to a survey released on Monday.
We now have evidence to support the claim that those at the “Bottom of the Pyramid” (and therefore, the majority of people in the developing world) are likely to enter the world of knowledge and convenience promised by the Internet through the path opened by the rapidly increasing capabilities of mobile networks and user devices. Mobile 2.0 describes the use of mobiles for “more‐than‐voice”. Mobiles are increasingly becoming payment devices which can also send/process/receive voice, text and images; it is envisaged that in the next few years, they will also be fully capable of information‐retrieval and publishing functions, normally associated with the Internet. Mobile 2.
Bangladesh exported 50 percent less manpower in 2009. Thousands of jobless workers also returned home as their employers went broke after the Wall Street collapsed. Yet inward remittance grew by 20 percent ($10.72 billion) in 2009. How could fewer workers send the highest-ever remittance?

Aging and ICTs

Posted on January 13, 2010  /  1 Comments

I’ve been thinking about demography a lot these days, particularly about the demographic dividend that Bangladesh is about to harvest (if right policies are in place) and Sr Lanka has partially harvested (and wasted). Actually, I’ve been thinking more about the demographic time bomb that is ticking in the form of a massive group of elderly retirees who will drag down not only their children in the working-age group but the entire economy. Sri Lanka’s current/projected life expectancy at birth 2006-11 Male 69.93 Female 75.70 2041-46 Male 73.
Finally the TRC has woken up and started paying attention to broadband QoSE. Unfortunately, like many people and animals who are prodded awake from deep sleep, it is grumpy. It is talking about guilt and “taking action” rather than sitting down with the operators and finding a solution. “The Telecom Regulatory Commission is conducting its own investigations on mobile broadband speeds advertized by operators,” Priyantha Kariyapperuma, director general of the TRC said. “If any mobile operator is found guilty of providing slower speeds than advertized, the TRC will take action against them.
We are always happy when people use our research. Happier when we are mentioned as the source too. We thank the writer and/or the source for attributing the results to us. While there is no separate data on the number of female subscribers in the country, according to a recent Lirneasia Teleuse Survey (a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank), mobile phone ownership is far lower among females than males in South Asia. Statistical analysis shows that gender has a significant impact on mobile phone adoption at the bottom of the pyramid in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.
Dream of digital Bangladesh quotes us extensively. Poor people in Bangladesh are more likely to own mobile phones and televisions than the same group in India, but the availability of computers in poor Bangladeshi households is almost zero, according to a recent study. The survey by LIRNEasia – a Sri Lanka-based information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation think tank dealing with the Asia-Pacific – also revealed a comparative reluctance among poor Bangladeshis to buy radios.
In addition to giving the keynote at the OECD/infoDev workshop on the Budget Telecom Network Mode at the IGF in Sharm el Sheikh, I attended several sessions, one being that on reducing interconnection costs. The key recommendations seemed to cluster around two actions, creating Internet Exchanges in each country and reducing leased line costs by introducing competition and breaking incumbent control on essential facilities such as cable stations. Our findings from countries that have had working Internet Exchanges at various times such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka show that their effects fluctuate (there is an unfortunate tendency of internal dissension in these things) and that getting leased line prices (both domestic and international) down is, on balance, more important. That unless the leased-line problem is not solved, the good work done on Internet Exchanges will be washed out. There is an assumption that every country should have an IX.
“I can’t imagine how and based on what measure TRAI set 256kbps internet connection as broadband. It’s very difficult for users to work with this speed. Please don’t compare Bangladesh and Sri Lanka while setting standard for India.” This was how a reader responded when Indian Express online carried a story on the dissemination of the findings of LIRNEasia’s broadband research at the GRT Grand Hotel convention centre in Chennai on November 3. Another story in ‘The Hindu’ quoted Timothy Gonsalves PhD, Head of Computer Science and Engineering Department, IIT-Madras, our research partner from IIT Madras saying the implication [of the latency introduced by complex routing of network traffic] for consumers is that though a user may get close to the speeds advertised by the operator while accessing servers within India, the download speeds from an international server for even a supposedly fast broadband connection would only be in the 200 kbps range.