Bangladesh Archives — Page 8 of 15


Findings from LIRNEasia’s latest round of broadband quality of service experience (QoSE) testing has been published in Chennai’s Financial Chronicle and The Indian Express, two leading print newspapers in India. Read the two of the articles here and here. There is disparity in the advertised broadband speed and the actual speed, according to the findings of a research project jointly carried out by Learning Initiative on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia), TeNeT Group of the IIT Madras. Excerpt below: “There is disparity in the advertised broadband speed and the actual speed, according to the findings of a research project jointly carried out by Learning Initiative on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia), TeNeT Group of the IIT Madras.There is disparity in the advertised broadband speed and the actual speed, according to the findings of a research project jointly carried out by Learning Initiative on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia), TeNeT Group of the IIT Madras.

Telecom access rankings in South Asia

Posted on October 24, 2009  /  18 Comments

According to the ITU ICTeye, which is now carrying 2008 data, Pakistan’s surge to overtake Sri Lanka has petered out, leaving the Maldives (143 active SIMs/100 people) as the undisputed leader in mobile connectivity (apparently all adult Maldivians carry two active SIMs; there are only two operators in the Maldives), and Sri Lanka second with 52 SIMs per 100 people. On the fixed side, assisted by CDMA phones that are counted as fixed, Sri Lanka is the leader (17 connection per 100 people), followed by Maldives (15 per 100). Like in cricket, the middle of the rankings are the most interesting. Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. This shows that India cannot afford to let up the pace of 10 million connections a month for some time.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia’s CEO, delivered a keynote address at the recently concluded South Asia Mobile Summit, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 21 – 22 October 2009. The two-day event was organized by the South Asia Mobile Forum, a consortium of telecom industry players in the SAARC region, with the aim of creating a platform for market, institutional and technological issues to be discussed and progress made. Rohan made a presentation on South Asia’s  Budget Telecom Network Model, that has been adopted by many regional telcos in providing voice services to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), and how the same can be applied to broadband services as well. The presentation drew on findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP, telecom regulatory environment (TRE) and mobile benchmark studies. The full presentation can be downloaded here.

Lessons of 2004 tsunami used in Samoa

Posted on October 3, 2009  /  2 Comments

A report on the response to the tsunami that hit Samoa shows that preparedness and evacuation planning saved lives even though they had barely eight minutes after the warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have enough distance from the unstable Sunda Trench and therefore are likely to have more time to organize evacuations. For Indonesia and Thailand, unfortunately, the time will be less. The Pacific islands were so close to the epicentre of the earthquake that a wall of water hit Samoa within eight minutes after the Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii sent its first bulletin Tuesday. Several Samoans said they heard no sirens or warnings, but fled as soon as they were woken up by the earthquake.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (covering 134 countries in 2008-09), only Sri Lanka has gained any ground among the South Asian countries. India is the first within the region, ranked 54th (down from 50th in 2007-08). Sri Lanka has made considerable progress from 79th place in 2007-08 to 70th place in a straight comparison (72nd among the 2008-09 countries). Congratulations to the industry, ICTA and all who contributed to this gain. Pakistan has slipped to 95th in a straight comparison from its 89th position in 2007-08.
Bangladesh is currently conducting a public consultation on proposed Significant Market Power regulation.  The recommendations made by an ITU consultant proposes Significant Market Power (SMP) regulation.   This is not something many regulators in our region have focused on, at least not recently (though very light flavors of SMP determinations can be found in some countries such as Pakistan).  So we sought the help of our sister research network RIA.  Using the recent experience of South Africa in using SMP in regulation (and contrasting with Namibia and Botswana which do not use SMP), Allison Gillwald of RIA gave us useful input on the pros and cons of the approach.
In April 2009, we reported that even though leased line prices in Bangladesh had declined by 74% in 6 months, the retail price paid by consumers had not changed. This was based on the broadband benchmarking data LIRNEasia publishes every 6 months. We are thankful that the Bangladesh regulator (BTRC) has taken note of our post and the complaints of many broadband consumers in Bangladesh. A recent article in the Daily Star reports that the BTRC has decided to check if the retail prices are dropping in line with whole-sale (leased line) costs. But what about broadband quality?
A JICA study on investment climate has come up with some interesting findings, according to a news report. It reflects what LIRNEasia found through its benchmarking work. Bangladesh did demonstrate herself as competitive in eight components, including lowest rates among all the countries surveyed with regards to monthly telephone charge and monthly gas charge. However, it remained less competitive in most areas related to foreign investment, including container transportation, land price of industrial estate, internet connection fee, monthly internet fee, telephone installation fee, mobile phone subscription fee, and corporate income tax among others. The report, however, highlighted high internet fees among these.

AM radio on mobile phones

Posted on July 20, 2009  /  0 Comments

The teleuse@BOP finding that mobiles have overtaken radios at the bottom of the pyramid in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh continues to resonate. In coverage of this story the leading Indian magazine in the IT space Voice and Data reveals that even AM reception is being offered in some Indian phones, in addition to the standard FM capability. Industry experts say it is an obvious phenomenon, with handsets turning in to a swiss-knife kind of solutions. Rural mobile penetration is now the focus of the service providers in these countries where the mobile markets are heading towards maturity. In India circles like Chennai are touching near 100% mobile penetration in that case the operator has to go to new markets.
The last burst of dissemination for the teleuse@BOP3 results is yielding good results, this time with an agency story about more BOP homes in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan having phones than radios, a story we had blogged about some time back. Phones are catching up with TVs, and the number of phones being used by ‘bottom of the pyramid’ households have already outpaced the number of radios and computers in South Asia, researchers have said. LIRNEasia, a Sri Lanka-based Asia-Pacific information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation capacity-building organisation, said in India a hundred bottom of the pyramid (BOP) households now had 50 TVs, 38 phones, 28 radios and one computer. Radio has been displaced from its No.2 position after television in India.
Talk in the Bangladesh telecom sector has been focused on taxes these days because the government had proposed a 25% tax on handsets and the retention of the controversial TK 800 tax on SIMs. These are counterproductive taxes both in terms of improving government revenues and connecting people electronically; their combined effect is to make it a lot more expensive to get connected. It’s only people who are connected who generate usage-based taxes, they are counter-productive for the government and they absolutely go against plans for a Digital Bangladesh. At the end of all the efforts to change the government’s mind, all that happened is the reduction of the handset tax. Full report in the Daily Star.
The results of the migrant study that was conducted along with the teleuse@BOP 3 study were released in Dhaka today. The first of the news coverage: Expatriate Bangladeshis called home more frequently than their Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan and Filipino counterparts, spending $48 a month to stay in touch, a survey says. The survey ‘”Teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid”, conducted by LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy research institute, found 87 percent of Bangladeshi migrants called home at least once a week, while 34 percent called home daily. Dr Rohan Samarejiva, chairman and CEO of the LIRNEasia, disclosed the result of the survey on Sunday in Dhaka. Dr Samarejiva said the survey was conducted over 1,500 overseas and domestic migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand.
LIRNEasia‘s recent research on ICT use and remittances among migrant workers was released in Dhaka on 28 June 2009. The study of over 1,500 domestic and overseas migrant workers in six Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka) has yielded some interesting insights in Bangladesh, with important policy implications. Demand for communication among Bangaldeshi migrants surveyed was particularly high compared to the other countries surveyed; a significant number of overseas migrants even used the Internet to call home. Bangladeshi migrants were sending home around half of their salaries on average, mostly through banks, and hand-carried in cash. Mobiles play a key role in coordinating remittances; a small number of overseas migrants were even sending money home through their mobiles.
AT Kearny has issued the 2009 Global Services Index. The good news for South Asia is that Sri Lanka has moved up from 29 to 16 and Pakistan from 30 to 20. India, of course, sits at the top, no change from 2007. The advances of Sri Lanka and Pakistan have been at the expense of the Northern European countries (e.g.
Good news for the many outside and inside government who struggled to get this done, including our colleagues from Research ICT Africa. The necessary condition for cheap connectivity is about to the fulfilled. Last week, in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, a regional communications revolution belatedly got under way when Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, plugged in the first of three fibre-optic submarine cables due to make landfall in Kenya in the next few months. They should speed up the connection of Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as bits of Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, to the online world. Of course, as the West African cable showed abundantly, and then the landing of SEA-ME-WE 4 in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh did, the cable by itself does not make things better.
Until recently, I believed, with Richard Heeks quoted below, that radio is found in more homes (at the BOP or all) than phones and TVs. Survey data from the BOP at three countries that account for the world’s greatest concentration of poor people (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) tell a story that contradicts the common wisdom. In India, 58% of BOP households have TVs, while only 32% have radios. And some kind of phone in the household? 45%!