Mark Wood, who among other things coordinates the group that is working harmonizing the address space for cell broadcasts on mobiles at ITU-T, had an intensive discussion with representatives of Sri Lanka mobile operators at a meeting organized at very short notice by LIRNEasia on 2nd of October 2008. He was on his way back from a successful visit to Male to speak at a cell broadcasting workshop co-organized by LIRNEasia and the Telecom Authority of Maldives. Why is harmonization important? Coastal areas are vulnerable to rapid-onset, broad-spectrum hazards such as tsunamis and cyclones. Coastal areas also attract large numbers of tourists.
Maldives is a country with an estimated population of 309,575 (August 2008), 312,527 active mobile SIMs, two mobile operators, and complete cellular coverage of all inhabited atolls, including most of the internal ferry and shipping routes (only a little bit in the one and a half degree channel in not covered, and plans are afoot to give coverage there too). It was also the worst affected in terms of property loss in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on a per capita basis. It is also one of the countries most dependent on tourism revenues. Of all the South Asian countries, it is best positioned to exploit the potential of cell broadcasting both for early warning and for commercial applications. In this light, LIRNEasia was pleased to be invited to conduct a scoping study on cell broadcasting for both public-service and commercial purposes by the Telecom Authority of the Maldives.