Bhutan Archives — Page 2 of 3


This really should not be a mystery. In most countries in the region, the information is available for all to see on either the regulator’s website or on operators’ websites. Domestic leased lines are a key input, important both in terms of interconnection and in terms of providing Internet. There is no reason to keep the prices secret. But they are not publicly available in Sri Lanka.
The ICT Development Index (IDI) rankings by the ITU are out. Vietnam, a high performer on all composite ICT rankings, has leaped forward from 91st place to 81st place, in a rare 10-place advance. In South Asia, Bhutan advanced four places to 119th; Nepal by three places to 134th; and India and Sri Lanka advance by one place to 116th and 105th respectively. Pakistan and Bangladesh drop two places each to 123rd and 137th, respectively. Maldives, the leader among the South Asian countries, drops one place to settle at 67th place.

All Google searches use up 260 MW

Posted on September 9, 2011  /  0 Comments

Even countries like Sri Lanka have 300 MW energy plants. The power generated by Bhutan’s Tala dam is more than 1000 MW. Looks like the data centers are more efficient than we thought. I’ve had little time for people who criticize energy use of web search. Earlier writing was without too much data, because data was not available.

Data centers grow, but efficiently

Posted on August 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

Data centers are what cloud computing will run on. They are what we hope will be located on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, making use of the cheap hydro that is plentifully available, political circumstances permitting. But of course, less electricity use is better. Fueled by an insatiable demand for new Internet services and a shift to so-called cloud computing services that are largely hosted in commercial data centers and in the large data farms operated by companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, there has been an increasing discussion about the growing percentage of the nation’s electricity that will be consumed by vast data centers being constructed at a record pace. But the new report indicates that electricity used by global data centers in 2010 remained relatively modest.

ICTs and Agriculture

Posted on May 31, 2011  /  0 Comments

Some of the actionable research done by LIRNEasia, were highlighted at an event organized by the Bhutan Infocomm and Media Authority (BICMA), in Thimphu on 9 May 2011. One of the areas of research presented was Agriculture. According to the World Bank, nearly half the labour force in Bhutan is engaged in Agriculture, however as in most South Asia countries, the sector’s contribution to GDP is less than proportional. LIRNEasia’s research on agriculture has highlighted the importance of access to accurate, timely and actionable information improved the efficiency of the agriculture value chains. The presentation looked at the services available for delivering information to farmers in South Asia.
On May 9th and 10th, LIRNEasia presented a selection of its research on Bhutan and of potential relevance to Bhutan at events organized in Thimphu. The following news report indicates that BICMA the Bhutan regulatory body is acting on one of the findings of the diagnostic tests run on broadband connectivity in Bhutan that showed poor connectivity among Bhutan ISPs. Broadband users can now self-regulate the bandwidth provided by the operators with the help of software which will be made available for free. Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), in a move to facilitate the operators give better services and to emphasis evidence-derived regulations, tied up with LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank. LIRNEasia is based in Sri Lanka but works in all the South Asian countries and some South East Asian countries.
Last week, b-mobile subscribers in Bhutan received a message that cell broadcasting had been enabled on the system. It was the same week LIRNEasia recommended that cell broadcasting was the best option for effecting public warning in the mountainous country that is vulnerable to massive flash floods known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs).
A news report indicates that lowering leased line prices (described as commercial broadband in the report has risen on the policy agenda in Sri Lanka. This is excellent news, though, of course, I would have preferred a story in the past tense: i.e., “domestic and international leased line prices have been reduced.” Present broadband charges which are higher than competitor countries are deterring foreign ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms from setting up in the island and are partly responsible for poor internet penetration, a report said.
 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.
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.

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.
At the “multi-year expert meeting” on services, development and trade: the regulatory and institutional dimension, organized by UNCTAD in Geneva, there was rich discussion on the increasing importance of regulation in an environment in which services trade is assuming greater importance. As attention shifts to services trade (for example, the most important element of the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, is the services chapter), there is of necessity a need to start looking at regulatory restrictions on services trade. Tariffs do not apply to services, so the only barriers are opaque, arbitrary and discriminatory regulatory provisions. This has been well recognized in telecom, with the reference paper on regulation being one of the key contributions to liberalization made by the GATS. The issue being raised at the UNCTAD meeting was whether there was value in exploring the regulatory aspects of trade in other infrastructure services.
Given coincidence of the SAARC Minister’s meeting and the release of LIRNEasia’s twice-a-year price benchmarks, I was tempted to see how much progress had been achieved, with regard to the Colombo Declaration’s para 6 which called for low intra-SAARC international voice tariffs. Not much progress to report, unfortunately. On the fixed side, the only countries with intra-SAARC tariffs lower than to non-SAARC countries, are Bhutan and Nepal. Bhutan, because it has a special price for India (other SAARC prices are high) and Nepal because it has not changed its extremely high tariff structure (and the lower-by-comparison intra-SAARC prices). Lanka Bell in Sri Lanka offers low prices to India, but our methodology does not capture that, because we take the prices of the largest operator, SLT.
According to LIRNEasia’s latest comparative study of price and affordability indicators in eight South Asian countries, Bangladesh emerges as having the lowest average monthly cost of using a mobile at all levels of use (low, medium and high) for different tariff plans (prepaid and postpaid). Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka follow closely, while Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan are seen to have significantly higher average monthly mobile costs. The study compares mobile tariffs in South Asia using price baskets, derived from those used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The baskets are calculated for low, medium and high users for pre- as well as postpaid tariff plans, factoring in usage charges (voice and SMS), line rental, connection charges (depreciated over a three year period), and applicable taxes. For more information on results and methodology, please click HERE.
There is no reason why Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and even the microstates of Bhutan and Maldives cannot get BPO business, not in competition with the Indian juggernaut, but in a complementary way. Sri Lanka had no BPO business to speak of prior to 2002, despite similarities with South India where it was booming. It was only after the international liberalization of 2002-03 that BPOs started in a significant way in Sri Lanka, though that promising start has been affected by the unsettled security situation. For the policy makers and implementors in these countries to contemplate: 1 percent of USD 60 billion is USD 600 million. That is not chump change.

Bhutan getting into BPOs

Posted on May 21, 2007  /  0 Comments

It is learned that a fiber optic cable has been laid to connect Thimphu, the capital with the Indian backbone network, that an IT park is being established in Thimphu, and that Bhutan will soon be undertaking BPO work. If any of our Bhutanese readers (or other knowledgeable persons) can shed additional light on this subject it will be much appreciated.