India Archives — LIRNEasia


We like to think we can foretell developments in the industries we study. I can recall meeting a Jio operative at Abu Saeed Khan’s home in Dhaka before they launched and chatting about what was to come. We all agreed that Reliance would disrupt the market. All I could come up with was that voice would most likely be free, or very cheap. That was nothing very insightful, because that was where the technology was at that time.
LIRNEasia advocated the linking of the Sri Lankan and Indian electricity grids in its formal submission to a PUCSL hearing in 2013. Despite the usual objections I have been promoting this idea ever since, most recently in relation to the government decision to commission another coal-fired plant in Norochcholai. It appears that the 2003 feasibility study that we keep referring to, is obsolete. According to this report, it appears considerable advances have been made in sub-sea electricity cable technology. I hope the government of Indian and Sri Lanka commission an fresh feasibility study and get the job done.
Hammered by retrospective tax determinations and non-traditional pricing plans introduced by Reliance Jio, the Indian telecom sector appeared to be in some kind of death spiral. But T.K. Thomas, one of the most knowledgeable observers of the sector, sees hope in the recent infusions of funds by entities ranging from Facebook to the Government of India. Beyond the immediate cash inflows he sees the overall prospects as positive: More than 50 per cent of the market is still not connected by data services.
As I was reading about Facebook becoming the largest minority shareholder of Reliance Jio, I was reminded of a piece I worked up on the flight back from Baku in late 2012 after doing serious damage to ETNO’s efforts to impose an archaic termination fee regime on the Internet. Here’s the last para (it was a parable, so the quotation may not make sense all by itself; please read the post): Parallel to this confrontation, there were those on both sides who sought common ground. Could the “big data” capabilities of the amusement park, used for marketing and for smoothening the peaks and valleys of demand for its attractions, be mobilized to better manage the demand for the trains? Could the amusement park take over parts of the ticketing and reception interfaces (the stations) of the system? Could there be joint ventures?
I was hoping we’d get more reports about congestion caused by changing use patterns caused by people confined to their homes. Here is a report on India. Despite the impact on their business, India’s operators have complied with regulatory requests aimed at encouraging subscribers to stay at home. These included providing free voice minutes as well as making prepaid accounts valid for a longer period. While subscribers are evidently topping up their airtime less under the lockdown, they do not appear to be using their devices any less – quite the contrary.
A look back on the policy impacts we've made with our research, over 15 years of work in the Asia Pacific

AfterAccess Asia Report 2.0

Posted on November 5, 2018  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia. (2018). AfterAccess: ICT access and use in Asia and the Global South (Version 2.0). Colombo: LIRNEasia

AfterAccess Asia Report

Posted by on October 4, 2018  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia. (2018). AfterAccess: ICT access and use in Asia and the Global South (Version 1). Colombo: LIRNEasia

AfterAccess India Report

Posted on August 7, 2018  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia. (2018). AfterAccess India: ICT access and use in India and the Global South (Version 1). Colombo: LIRNEasia
AfterAccess: ICT access and use in India and the Global South. Helani Galpaya (@helanigalpaya) and TharakaAmarasinghe, 7 August 2018, New Delhi
Pew Research, based on the Global Attitudes Survey, reports that 22 percent of the adult population in India owned a smartphone in 2017. This finding mirrors the findings of our AfterAccess surveys conducted in India
It is reported that momentum is building for rules for e commerce under the WTO. India is both a hotbed of e commerce developments (Walmart has just gained majority control of Flipkart) and a heavyweight in international trade negotiations. Its role in scuttling the Doha Round is still remembered. But India is said to lack adequate knowledge to formulate positions on e commerce, except for one blatantly protectionist issue and one that poses significant challenges to implement: Consider, for instance, one key demand by developed countries to make permanent the current ban on customs duties on ‘global electronic transactions’ that were suspended in 1998. On the face of it, this is a reasonable ask: if the ban is overturned, it would give countries the right to impose tariffs on downloads of mobile applications, streamed music from Spotify or videos from Netflix.
Back in 2002-03 when we were designing the e Sri Lanka initiative, we worried a lot about a ubiquitous mechanism that could enable small online payments. I was hearing more or less the same concerns about the lack of a good payments infrastructure at a digital strategy meeting last week. It appears the India government has solved the problem: WATCHING money drain from your bank account has never been so much fun. On WhatsApp, a messaging service ubiquitous in India, sending rupees is now as easy as posting a selfie. Set-up is a breeze, because all Indian banks have been corralled onto a common payment platform on which anyone, from Google and Samsung to local payment firms and banks themselves, can build their own user interface.
We had proposed standard comparative metrics for universal services because we said they would lead to improved performance and changes in programs. Some academic reviewers rejected our article on the ground that metrics could not improve performance. It’s difficult to educate ignorant peer reviewers because they are anonymous. But who knows, they may stumble upon this blog. The Centre’s quest to identify the top 100 cities for its smart city projects has states vying for maximum entries.
Many thought that the draconian demonetization of 2016 would have moved India’s digital financial services industry into an entirely different level. It created momentum, but not as much as expected according to the NYT. According to the report only 14 percent of those able to go online (around 1/3rd of Indians) use digital payments. But what is important is that the Indian firms are focusing on consumer payments, not money transfers. There’s a much stronger contribution to the building of the eco system through this means.