India Archives — Page 17 of 43


When we do not push stories, but yet our research gets picked up by the media, that’s real success. Tahani Iqbal’s work on mobile number portability was completed in 2009, but was yesterday cited in a story on the launch of MNP in India. A study paper by LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank based in Sri Lanka, says that ARPUs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and even Sri Lanka are at an all-time low, especially amongst prepaid users, ranging between just $ 2-5. “There is very little room then for MNP to drive price competition and push tariffs that are already at rock-bottom,” said the paper, authored by Tahani Iqbal. Iqbal says that MNP implementation is a costly venture, with high recurring costs due to the technology involved.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, was quoted recently in an article published by TIME on India’s widening telecom scandal. A recent report published by India’s top auditor highlights irregularities in the government allocation of 2G spectrum to private companies. Rohan Samarajiva, an expert on telecom policy in South Asia, has studied the mobile-phone market in Bangladesh. There, too, investigations revealed hundreds of cases of spectrum sold and resold in “non-transparent” transactions. Nevertheless, Bangladesh has nearly 100% phone coverage and some of the lowest prices in the world.
In a response given to the respected Hindu newspaper in connection with a story on LIRNEasia’s broadband QoSE regulation results, TRAI has indicated some changes in the broadband quality regulatory regime, starting as early as next month: S.K. Gupta, Advisor (CN & IT), TRAI, has said the definition of broadband will be modified to include only those services that offer access speeds of 512 kbps from January 1, 2011. “This will be further upgraded to 2 Mbps network speeds from January 1, 2015. A comprehensive regulation on Quality of Service is also in the pipeline.
Fidelity of digitized data in the Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) was not promising; especially with the personnel in Sri Lanka with no medical knowledge but technically capable were producing up to 45% noisy data (second stacked graph). On the contrary the medically trained but less fluent in mobile phone usage Indian nurses were less prone to producing noisy data. The Indian health workers had an incentive because the erroneous data would produce false alarms, and they would need to respond to these false alarms or it would portray a bad image of the health situation in their area; while the Sri Lanka data digitizing personnel had no incentive besides picking up a paycheck for the data entry work they did. The data was submitted through the mHealthSurvey mobile software that works on less expensive Java-enabled hand-helds. The RTBP envisions that hospital data is submitted each day; thus, the real-time expectations.
Today at the IITCOE workshop Ashok Jhunjhunwala made a strong argument that the Indian government must hive off the backhaul networks of BSNL and have them be managed by a separate company. Interestingly Masayoshi Son, the Japanese entrepreneur has made more or less the same argument in Japan. Great minds think alike. The government is expected shortly to unveil a scheme to loop the country with fibre-optic lines that will support internet access at up to 100 megabytes a second, ten times the speed of the technology being replaced. Mr Son argues that to guarantee fair access to this network—and thus the most efficient use of it—it should be run by an infrastructure firm hived off from NTT, owned jointly by all the telecoms operators.
The common wisdom is that mobile number portability is an unmitigated good. But the whole point of doing research is challenging common wisdom. Based on evidence, we found that MNP has little relevance for our constituency, those at the bottom of the pyramid. We said so to Indian media, saying it would be a good thing for post-paid and corporate customers. We now find those ideas reflected in Indian media coverage, though not always with attribution, as for example in the Times of India: MNP works best with post-paid customers, as they are the highest paying of the lot.
To learn about the state of broadband in Sri Lanka, one has to rely on the media and on company releases, not the normal source which is the Ministry or regulatory agency. Today LBO carried the following story: Sri Lanka Telecom, the island’s largest fixed access operator said it had added 80,000 new broadband customers in 2010 and its base of 200,000 customers was 70 percent of the market. About 20 percent of the operator’s wireline customers were now using its ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) services, the telco said in a statement. From the above we can conclude that Sri Lanka has roughly 286,000 broadband subscriptions. We have no idea whether this number includes those using dongles, or simply those who subscribed to the “fixed wireless” options provided by LankaCom, Dialog etc.
We have been talking about the Budget Telecom Network Model for sometime. But as the Economist points out, the story is bigger than just telecom. South Asian innovation, driven by the need to sell to poor people, may remake the economic landscape in rich countries too. Most strikingly, Indian companies have produced a new type of innovation, variously dubbed “frugal”, “reverse” and “Gandhian”. The essence is to reduce the price of a product or service by a breathtaking amount—80% rather than 10%—by removing unnecessary bells and whistles.

Nokia moves out Ovi to Nigeria

Posted on November 2, 2010  /  0 Comments

Improving the efficiency and inclusiveness of agricultural value chains is central to LIRNEasia’s current research. NYT reports on Nokia’s efforts in this area. Unfortunately for little countries, they are focusing only on big markets. On Saturday at dawn, hundreds of farmers near Jhansi, an agricultural center in central India, received a succinct but potent text message on their cellphones: the current average wholesale price for 100 kilograms of tomatoes was 600 rupees ($13.26).
The “Evaluating a Real-Time Biosurveillance Program” (RTBP) research team meet in Chennai, July 6 – 7, 2010 to discuss the interim findings of the evaluation work (click to read workshop report) carried out in Tamil Nadu India. In addition to the workshop a news conference was organized to disseminate the pilot project findings. The links below are some of the news prints (click on the thumbnails to view news clippings) :: – Mobiles on Health Calls, The Hindu Business Line, September 13, 2010 – Pilot study in using mobile technology for disease reporting shows promise, Thehindu.com, July 07, 2010 – Pilot study on epidemiological early disease warning system, Chennaionline.com, July 07, 2010 – New tech to keep tab on diseases, timesofindia.
Spectrum allocation and pricing in Pakistan and India have differed considerably, one following market-based price discovery mechanisms through auctions, and the other, arbitrary pricing. Two articles, one by Mr. Muhammad Aslam Hayat, a regulatory consultant at Grameenphone, Bangladesh, and the other, by Payal Malik, LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, examines the past and present spectrum policy in Pakistan and India, respectively. Hayat writes: Pakistan introduced mobile cellular telephony early, in 1990. Although there was no clear spectrum management policy or roadmap available prior to 2004, the issuance of four mobile cellular licenses and the assignment of spectrum to those licensees were remarkably well thought out.
The Colloquim was conducted by Nuwan Waidyanatha from China while Chamindu Sampath projected the slides at LIRNEasia. Introduction to research The project is taking place in Kurunagala and Tamil Nadu. In 24 health sub centres and 4 public Helath Centres in Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka in 12 Hostpitals Disease infomation The system architecture Determinants of Morbidity in India Determinants of notifiable diseases in Sri Lanka RTBP Communication Technology mHealthSurvey mobile application T-Cube Web Interface Sahana Messaging/Alerting Module mhealthSurvey Shortcomings Certification exercises Signal to Noise Ratio Real-Time vs Off-time Semantics and syntax Cost benefits Objective of the Research The basic objective was to see if we can collect data and detect and report the outbreaks. Specific Objectives: Evaluating the effectiveness of the m-Health RTBP for detecting and reporting outbreaks Evaluating the benefits and efficiencies of communicating disease information Contribution of community organization and gender participation Develop a Toolkit for assessing m-Health RTBPs The Data collection is done by Health workers and goes through the mHealthSurvey mobile phone software to the Epidemiologist for spatial and temporal analysis done using T-Cube Web Interface before going to the Sahana Alerting Module Interface and then agian to the health workers. A sequence analysis of the functions […]
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 Bangkok Post has carried a report on the exchanges about universal service funds at the Islamabad Mobile 2.0 Expert Forum. The reporter initiated the exchange between the CEOs of the Pakistan universal service fund and LIRNEasia. Here is his account. Rohan Samarajiva, CEO of Lirne-Asia, has been a long opponent of USO funds and has often stated that they are a waste of money which distort the market, and that USO-type projects should be funded from central budgeting process instead.
The Grand Trunk Road, which covers a distance of 2,500 km today, says Wikipedia, is one of South Asia’s oldest and longest major roads. For several centuries, it has linked the eastern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent, running from Bengal, across north India, into Peshawar in Pakistan. The road also passes through the only road boarder between the two most powerful South Asian nations, Wagah. Wagah border point, often called the “Berlin wall of Asia”, is a ceremonial border where each evening there is a retreat ceremony called ‘lowering of the flags’. At that time there is an energetic parade by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Pakistan Rangers soldiers.
A write-up by an Indian journalist who attended the recent Islamabad Expert Forum summarizes the reasons for it working better than the gargantuan Indian USF: lower rate; efficient disbursement mechanism: Interestingly, while in India, a telecom operator has to contribute 5 per cent of its annual revenue to the USO Funds, Pakistan charges much less at 1.5 per cent. In India, the funds go to the national budget and the Department of Telecommunications has to make projects to source them, in Pakistan a separate company has been created to utilise the funds. The journalist also points to a new twist whereby renewable energy has been made mandatory for all base stations supported by the Fund. In a bold move, the Pakistan Telecom Authority, the telecom Regulator has made it mandatory that all bases stations being set up with support from the USF should be ‘Green Sites’ or renewable energy powered, especially solar and wind as the case may be.