Despite having 70% global market share, the so called 2G mobile phone that runs on GSM technology has posted negative growth for the first time in 2013. And it will account for only 48% of the mobile subscription worldwide in 2018, predicts TeleGeography. Migration from 2G to 3G and LTE is already well underway in much of the world, but the pace of the transition varies widely by region. The move from 2G technologies is most advanced in North America, where 3G and LTE accounted for more than 80 percent of wireless subscribers at year-end 2013, and are projected to reach 93 percent of subscriptions by 2018. In western Europe, just over 50 percent of mobile subscribers used 3G or LTE in 2013, a ratio that is projected to grow to 86 percent by 2018.
Payal Malik, LIRNEasia’s Senior Research Fellow resident in India, has written an op-ed analyzing the spectrum mess in India and proposing that it be cleaned up in tandem with license renewals that are coming up. Pakistan used the opportunities afforded by license renewals to clean up some policy mistakes made prior to 2004. We hope to feature a piece by a person involved in that process shortly, in an Indian newspaper and/or here. However, there is one window of possibility of cleaning this pricing conundrum. Very soon, many licences will be coming up for renewal.
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.
CB [cell broadcasting] is an intrinsic feature of GSM, UMTS and IS 95 CDMA networks, and is thus available in the two Maldivian networks. But it must be activated. Most handsets are capable of receiving CB messages but the feature must be turned on. However, in the early stages, getting customers to turn on the feature could be an effective way of educating them of mobile-based public warning. Following stakeholder meetings that included sharing of information on the ongoing CB channel-standardization work of Study Group 2 of the Telecommunication Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) and experience in attempting to use CB for public warning in Sri Lanka, the recommendations to TAM are being finalized.
LIRNEasia plans to conduct its next round of Mobile Broadband Quality testing (in Colombo) on April 6-8, 2009. As a rule such tests are conducted unannounced, for obvious reasons, but this time we decided to make an exception by making the process open. We invite anybody who is interested to participate. If you can bring your own laptops/handsets you are free to test using any tool you wish and check the results differ from the outcome of AT-Tester. Four widely used packages – two from Dialog GSM and two from Mobitel will be tested.
Thalakumbura is 17 km off Hali-Ela, in Badulla District, Uva province – one of the least connected in Sri Lanka. Strictly speaking, the village, just 10 km from the famous ‘Bogoda Bridge’, is connected – not to one but three mobile networks. However, the signal strength is not adequate to carry out a continuous conversation except when at the second floor of the three storey temple building. (See photo) So the villagers’ frequent visits to temple may not be with strictly spiritual objectives. Despite this, more than 50% houses now have at least one mobile, confirms the chief incumbent priest.
Dialog Telekom PLC in collaboration with its partners Dialog University of Moratuwa Mobile Communications Research Laboratory and Microimage Technologies together with the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) of Sri Lanka launched Sri Lanka’s first ever mass alert warning system; the ‘Disaster and Emergency Warning Network’ (DEWN) yesterday under the patronage of Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe. Speaking on the launch of DEWN Group Chief Executive Officer, Dialog Telekom PLC, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya said that “There are 10 million people in this country who have access to telecommunication and mobile services. Now the mobile has become a powerful tool which could be called as a ‘Digital Empowerment Device’ and our citizens are digitally empowered into the digital network”. Dr.
Board of Investment has granted approval to a sixth mobile/ 5th fixed operator. The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to a new mobile (GSM) and fixed (SCDMA) telecommunications network provider. Mr. Dhammika Perera, Chairman / Director General signed the agreement on behalf of the BOI and formally presented the BOI Certificate of Registration to Mr. B.
Existing telecom operators may have to pay more than the new players eyeing the 3G space, in the form of annual charge for the 3G spectrum. A committee chaired by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Joint Secretary J S Deepak has recommended that an operator having 2G spectrum and 5 MHz of 3G spectrum should pay an incremental 1 per cent more than the applicable slab rate for 2G spectrum. The committee, which was set up to suggest annual spectrum charges for 3G, has recommended that due to the efficiency in capital expenditure and synergy in operations, operators having 2G spectrum and acquiring 5 Mhz of 3G spectrum should be charged at a higher rate. GSM 2G operators get 4.4 MHz and CDMA players get 2.
It is reported that the one million or so customers of Sri Lanka Telecom who have wireline connections can now look forward to paying the same amount in taxes as the ten million or so customers (mobile and fixed) who connect wirelessly (across GSM and CDMA platforms). We have opposed telecom specific taxes; but even more, we have opposed discrimination between different technologies. It takes some time for the people in Treasury to get it, but at least they got it after more than a year. If they got it earlier, there would have been no need to change the description in the phone bills from mobile subscriber levy to telephone subscriber levy. Hopefully this will also end the anomaly of taxing the same broadband service differently.
The government today allotted start-up GSM spectrum to new telecom players, including Datacom and Unitech, in four circles of Mumbai, Maharashtra, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (East). Tata Teleservices, which has got GSM licence under dual technology policy, has also been allotted spectrum in the lucrative Mumbai circle while it is yet to get the radio frequency in other three circles. With this, new players can now roll out services in 10 circles as the government has already released spectrum in six circles of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. In Punjab, only three players have been accommodated as only 15 MHz spectrum was available. HFCL, a CDMA player, has got GSM spectrum in Punjab under the dual technology policy.
Asia Pacific telecom operators had a big party in Colombo this week. They were celebrating the 21 st anniversary of the global mobile standard, GSM. Despite a few puzzlingly sexist comments about the significance of the 21 st birthday to a “Young Girl” (as though it was not significant for a male) it was a good party. Anyway, the point is that it was not just fun and games. The conference that followed was a serious one.
Europe’s mobile phone industry will today mount a last-ditch effort to ward off strict price caps on text messages and data downloads within the EU by warning that heavy regulation is cutting capital spending and profit margins. With Viviane Reding, EU telecoms commissioner, poised to propose a new round of price caps this month, mobile operators claim their capital spending has already slipped from 13% of revenues in 2005 to 11% last year – and could fall further. The GSM Association – the global trade body representing more than 750 GSM mobile phone operators – citing data from a study by management consultants, says the industry’s return on capital employed was as low as 7% in 2007 or less than half that of other significant sectors such as steel and software. Sources said this gives the lie to Reding’s claim that it is making excessive profits from “roaming” services in the EU. Read the full stiry in the Guardian here.
Mobile broadband connections around the world have increased tenfold in the past year, with 32 million subscribers connected now, up from 3 million at the end of March 2007, according to the GSM Association. The Association, which represents operators of GSM and 3G networks, says providers across Europe, Asia and North America are all reporting huge increases in the uptake of High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), with the uptake said to have increased by 44 per cent in the past 10 months. It says the number of networks offering commercial mobile broadband services has risen sharply in the past year. Broadband on mobile phones is available in 73 countries from 166 operators, up from 96 networks commercially deployed in 3 countries. Meanwhile the Global mobile Suppliers Association, which represents the makers of infrastructure and end user equipment, said 637 HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) products have now launched, representing an annual growth of 150 percent.
AT&T is finally warming up to Google’s phone OS, Android. T-Mobile and Sprint and members of the Open Handset Alliance, which champions Google’s new Linux-based platform, and Verizon has promised to make its network open to any device, a move that likely had Android devices specifically in mind. At the CTIA wireless show in Vegas AT&T Mobility chief, Ralph de la Vega said, “I like it a lot more than I did before… It’s something we would want in our portfolio.” His conversion on Android came after Google executives showed him that AT&T would be able to load its own applications on any Android handset it sold. Previously, the company had been fearful the handset would be geared too much towards the Google brand.
The number of mobile broadband subscribers using 3G HSPA has increased by 850% worldwide in the past year, according to the GSM Association. But carriers are also running the risk of becoming a victim of their own success, according to some analysts. HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) is an advanced form of 3G deployed by cellular operators that use GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology. Worldwide, GSM is the most widely-used cellular technology; it is used by AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile in the U.