A citizen journalist brings good news. But there is a question mark is regarding the comment on bills. Most of the phones in Jaffna are mobile and most of the mobiles are prepaid. So the line re bills must refer to Sri Lanka Telecom. Clarifications most welcome.
Rohan Samarajiva chaired the Universal, Ubiquitous, Equitable and Affordable session at the ITU World 2006 that raised some fundamental questions about Universal Service Obligation (USO) programs around the world. Rohan introduced the topic [PDF] drawing from LIRNEasia‘s recent Shoestrings II study on telephone use at the “bottom of the pyramid.” The first Keynote speaker, Zhengmao Li, VP China Unicom, described the efforts of the Chinese govt and his company in building a harmonious digital society. Thanks to the govt’s policy to provide access to ICTs on an equitable and affordable basis, more than 97 percent of administrative villages in China have a phone. The second Keynote speaker, Tom Philips, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSM Association forcefully argued that USO programs in most parts of the world have not resulted in improved access but have rather harmed the objective of connecting those who currently do not have access.
The battle for mobile customers in Latin America is hotting up as 319 million Latin Americans or 56% of the population already own a mobile phone. Telefonica of Spain and America Movil controlled by Mexican businessman Carlos Slim are going head-to-head to expand their market-share in South America and are increasingly targeting the “bottom of the pyramid.” The Race for Numero Uno in Latin Wireless (Businessweek November 27, 2006): More than 80% of Brazil’s mobile-telephone customers use prepaid service—buying cards to recharge their phones—rather than signing monthly contracts. América Móvil’s average client uses just 71 minutes of airtime each month, spending around $12.50.
The Study of India’s Universal Service Instruments by LIRNEasia researchers Payal Malik & Harsha De Silva, critiqued the Indian government’s policy that made only fixed line operators eligible for USO funds: As of today, the government is giving USO fund support to only the fixed line operators offering services in the rural areas. The over defining terms in the law is a bad idea in a rapidly evolving technology environment, though this correction has been suggested it is quite possible that the previous auctions have left huge amounts of rents that have been appropriated by the incumbent. In an industry that manifests the potential for rapid technological change and innovation, such as telecom, an economic analysis of a problem should not focus too narrowly or exclusively on the best use of society’s resources from the standpoint of today’s technology and resource availability i.e. static economic efficiency but should be viewed from a dynamic perspective.
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Cellular phone subscribers rose in India by a record 6.6 million in October, keeping the country’s place as the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market, according to data released over the weekend. Subscribers for the GSM network grew by 4.7 million in September, while the number of mobile phone subscribers using CDMA technology increased by 1.9 million.
Massive mobile growth is reported from Bangladesh in 2006, with over two million being added in September alone, according to the BTRC. The question now is whether Pakistan still leads the pack. Mobiles Net addition/month Jan-06 10,275,869 Feb-06 10,543,898 268,029 Mar-06 10,954,285 410,387 Apr-06 11,781,560 827,275 May-06 13,440,836 1,659,276 Jun-06 14,190,606 749,770 Jul-06 14,798,440 607,834 Aug-06 15,510,000 711,560 Sep-06 17,647,537 2,137,537 Bangladesh’s GrameenPhone tops 10 mln subscribers | Reuters.com Bangladesh’s top mobile phone operator GrameenPhone Ltd. said on Sunday the number of its subscribers has passed 10 million, rising more than 80 percent since January.
Sri Lanka‘s first outdoor wireless computer network is now up and running. Surprisingly, it is not in Colombo. It is not even in any of the other key places. It was installed in Mahavilachchiya, a little known village, 40 km from the nearest town Anuradhapura, and surrounded three sides by the Vilpattu jungle. Most of the villagers are either farmers or labourers with a monthly income of about Rs.
Dhaka, Nov 3 (bdnews24.com) – GrameenPhone’s coverage beyond Bangladesh’s boundary has forced the Indian government to deploy cellular mobile network in the neglected northeastern states, reports Kolkota-based The Telegraph Friday. The Indians along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and other north-eastern states “are forced to use prepaid cards of GrameenPhone, the largest cell phone service provider of Bangladesh, paying ISD call rates.” People without mobile phones cross the border and use Bangladeshi phone booths and they pay hefty amounts of international tariff to call own country, the report alleges. Villagers have complained to the Telegraph correspondent that the Indian government does not provide them basic telecoms facilities on the pretext of security.
North Korea is part of Asia. LIRNEasia should at least think about this strange country as it goes about its work. The connectivity of North Korea is described below: The Internet Black Hole That Is North Korea – New York Times “This is an impoverished country where televisions and radios are hard-wired to receive only government-controlled frequencies. Cellphones were banned outright in 2004. In May, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York ranked North Korea No.
The GSM Association (GSMA) has announced on Wednesday that it has teamed up with Ericsson and telecoms group MTN to establish bio-fuels as an alternative source of power for wireless networks in the developing world. Ecology and economy is equally critical for mobile phone coverage in the less lucrative emerging markets. Diesel generators energise the base stations at remote locations. Supplying fuel across the unfriendly terrain is also a logistical nightmare. Such expensive exercise, however, inhibits the operators to invest in the low-yield regions.
According to an equity research firm, the limits of the addressable market in mobile in Sri Lanka will be reached when 2 million more phones are connected. This conclusion needs further interrogation, but on first glance it looks like they have the mobile/per 100 number understated by about 1.1, which does not bode well for the veracity of their claims. For 4.3 million phones to give a mobile teledensity of 21.
By Eric Sylvers International Herald Tribune Published: October 9, 2006 MILAN A battle is brewing that may well decide how Europeans connect to the Internet using cellphones, laptops and other portable devices in the coming decade. Mobile phone companies, chip makers and manufacturers of wireless networks are pushing their sometimes conflicting cases for how the limited amount of radio frequencies should be used to beam data from the Internet to mobile devices and back the other way, a decision that generally is left to national governments. Read the rest of the International Herald Tribune article HERE
Finally domain names ending in .mobi can now be registered by the general public. Will this increase mobile content (i.e. content that can be viewed on your mobile phone)?
There is an international report in a reputable medium (Reuters AlertNet) about a text messaging for disaster warning development in Sri Lanka. This is a request to whoever who is responsible for this project to give it publicity within the country, not limiting the publicity to foreign media. “Sri Lanka has also been trying to harness the mobile phone as a powerful warning device, and is working on a text message alert system to give people a crucial few minutes to seek safety if another tsunami hits.” The story that contains this claim is at Alertnet:
Extortion in the name of tax is taxtortion. That’s what I challenged when Bangladesh government imposed VAT on every new mobile conection last year. Last Thursday the High Court division of Bangladesh Supreme Court has declared it illegal. Read the details in this link http://www.thedailystar.
Bridging the digital divide is important. It may not be as important as ensuring safe water for all, or adequate healthcare, in terms of meriting investment of scarce public resources, but it is definitely important enough to merit concerted action to remove the artificial barriers to private supply. One of the best ways this can be done is by improving the knowledge that is brought to bear on the process. The optimal way to achieve this is to create an environment within which international best practices are adapted to local circumstances by in-situ policy intellectuals. Some of these local experts could be in regulatory agencies and in government; but the optimal results will be achieved through participatory processes where all stakeholders, including the consumers are represented by knowledgeable experts.