CHAKULA is a newsletter produced by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Named after the Swahili word for ‘food’, it aims to mobilise African civil society around ICT policy for sustainable development and social justice issues. The latest issue features an e-interview with LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, but it is not the only reason why we thought of highlighting the issue. The content is interesting and very readable. We publish two e-interviews from July 2010 issue here fully, as they are not available on public domain.
Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka loves SMS. In the pre-election period it requested operators to accommodate a ‘New Year Greeting’ from the President, who apparently was a candidate. Now it warns the users about a false spam SMS. If you have received it don’t worry. Calls from those numbers do not harm your brain or kill you, assures Director General of the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita.
A report just released by DIRSI shows that Peru’s regulatory environment has improved slightly during the period from 2007 to 2009. The report, Entorno regulatorio de las telecomunicaciones: Perú 2007-2009 (Telecommunications Regulatory Environment: Peru 2007-2009), prepared by Jorge Bossio, used the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) Assessment methodology that was developed by DIRSI’s partner LIRNEasia as an approach to gaining insight on regulatory performance. The TRE methodology is based on the assumption that investment is a necessary condition for good telecom sector performance, and investment decisions are influenced by perceptions of investment risk. Using interviews and a questionnaire administered to a statistically significant cross-section of industry stakeholders and experts, the TRE assessment traverses six dimensions of regulatory risk for both the fixed and mobile sectors. The new report, the second assessment of Peru’s regulatory environment, reports that the overall influence of the regulatory environment in Peru has improved since the previous assessment (2006-2007) but remains neutral – neither encouraging nor discouraging investment.
The UK regulator, Ofcom, has proposed cuts in interconnection fees (also known as mobile termination rates), the wholesale charges that operators make to connect calls to each others’ networks. It has unveiled plans to cut the rate in stages from 4.3 pence ($0.065) per minute to 0.005 pence per minute by 2015.
The title is bold, we agree, but it is true. The FCC is asking broadband and smartphone users in USA to use their broadband testing tools to help the feds and consumers know what speeds are actually available, not just promised by the nations’ telecoms, reports wired.com. Starting yesterday (March 11), netizens can go to the FCC’s Broadband.gov site, enter their address and test their broadband speed using one of two testing tools.
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.
Perhaps it is time for Sri Lanka Telecom Regulator to be renamed ‘Telecom Revenue Commission’ as it generates more revenue for the government than two state banks and Port and the Petroleum Corporation, suggests Rohan Samarajiva in his column to Lanka Business Online. The 3.5 billion rupee question: Does it regulate? The answer may interest the new boss, Anusha Palpita, who took over the reins few days back. “There is no problem with the administrative aspects, but I will have to get a grip on the technical side of TRCSL’s functions and duties”, he said to The Island- Sunday Edition yesterday.
The stream of blog posts started with a single SMS – apparently by the President of the country to every mobile user. It was initially thought a commercially paid advertisement aimed at the forthcoming Presidential Election but the operators confirmed it is a favour requested by the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. Does this violate the election laws of the country? Was that an unsolicited entry to mobile users’ personal spaces? LIRNEasia with groundviews and W3Lanka blew the whistle first now it is the turn of the mass media.
Based on LIRNEasia’s broadband QoSE research findings, we ran an advertisement in the Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka’s leading English daily) on 24 November 2009. The advertisement focused on four facts. The first three were on value for money, advertised download speed as opposed to actual download speed and bandwidth bottlenecks. The lack of regulation on contention ratios (how many users per “channel”) was highlighted as the fourth fact We pointed out that LIRNEasia’s recommendation about imposing contention ratios of 1:20 (Business) and 1:50 (Residential) had been adopted by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with minor changes. TRAI mandates contention ratios of 1:30 for Business and 1:50 for Residential.
“When a business model, rather than direct government action, is delivering the goods the most appropriate government action is that which supports the business model. Policy and regulatory actions must be derived more from analysis of the requirements of the business model and less from public administration theory.” How it applies to Internet and broadband is what Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO, LIRNEasia explained in his keynote speech at the workshop ‘Expanding access to the Internet and broadband for development’ on November 16, 2009, at the Internet Governance forum 2009. His presentation entitled, ‘How the developing world may participate in the global Internet Economy: Innovation driven by competition’, can be downloaded here. The session was chaired by Dimitri Ypsilanti, Head of Information, Communication and Consumer Policy Division, OECD.
“The government is spending a lot on e-governance by putting up kiosks in villages. These kiosks cost a lot and need electricity, which is not always available in rural areas. An internet kiosk costs the government about Rs 1.5 lakh, while this would cost Rs 22,000.” Financial Chronicle (New Delhi edition) quoted Subhash Bhatnagar, adjunct professor, IIM-A who did a Mobile 2.
“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.
I took the first photo. That was in April 2008 in an informal telecenter visit. The second one appeared in a Sinhala blog recently. Mangedara Nenasala telecenter at Thulhiriya (less than 2 km from MAS Holdings) is one of the hundreds of defunct Nenasala telecenters. During better times it provided services such as utility bill payments and computer training.
Many were counting WiMAX out, but it appears that it has one last chance with the Sprint experiment. Through Clearwire, an affiliated company in which Sprint owns a 51 percent stake, Sprint is now offering the faster data service on laptops in Baltimore, Portland, Ore., and other cities for a total population of eight million people. By the end of the year, the service will be in 25 markets, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas. A year after that, it hopes to reach about a third of the country’s population, including New York and San Francisco.
LIRNEasia has from the beginning seen the value of looking at all infrastructures, and indeed looking at their inter-relationships. Given their places on the adoption curves, we do not believe that electronics can consume 15% of electricity at the BOP in emerging countries, but given the long gestation times of energy projects and reforms, it appears opportune to start thinking about this issue now, rather than later. The proliferation of personal computers, iPods, cellphones, game consoles and all the rest amounts to the fastest-growing source of power demand in the world. Americans now have about 25 consumer electronic products in every household, compared with just three in 1980. Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency, making it more difficult to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.
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.