India


It’s not only in Finland and India that they are returning fixed line connections . . . . At the University of Washington, the communications department faculty did away with their landlines.
Payal Malik, Senior Research Fellow, will speak on universal service policies based on LIRNEasia research to the participants of the 3rd Annual Connecting Rural Communities Asia Forum to be held from 23-25 June 2009 in New Delhi, India. The event is expected to attract stakeholders, policy makers and executives from across the ICT sector with the shared goal of shaping future of rural connectivity. The organizers hope to be discuss: How can governments best support the creation of self-sustaining rural connectivity initiatives that benefit local people? Step-by-step practical guidance on overcoming the most pressing technical challenges Developing a world-class telecentre rural development programme Progress on delivering the promise of the United Services Obligation Fund Realising the benefits of greater rural connectivity though the delivery of E-services Mapping the future need for connectivity: Identifying choke points in the delivery network Training and empowering rural populations to make full use of the potential inherent in greater connectivity More information is available on the official website: http://www.events.

So what?

Posted on June 12, 2009  /  0 Comments

Our primary funder IDRC is having a big gathering of all its Asian fundees in Penang. As one of the main plenary events, they conducted a “talk show” with representatives of three of their leading projects in the region. Helani Galpaya participated in this talk show from LIRNEasia. At the conclusion, she was asked the following question: “we do not just fund good research, we ask what it will yield for development; we ask so what?” She answered, saying that the good use made of resources entrusted to LIRNEasia could be illustrated through three examples: 1.
One of the bad things about projections, especially long-term projections, is the lack of accountability. Or that like astrological forecasts, we only talk about the ones that were right. But anyway there is an interesting discussion of the Indian outsourcing industry, including a discussion on projections. A decade ago, McKinsey and India’s powerful information technology and outsourcing trade group, Nasscom, predicted that revenue from outsourcing by foreign companies would reach $50 billion in India in 2010. The global economic slowdown has delayed that by three or four quarters — revenue is predicted to reach $47 billion this year.
Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO of LIRNEasia was awarded the prestigious 2009 “Communication Research as an Agent of Change Award” by the International Communication Association (ICA) at the 59th Annual conference of the ICA on 23 May 2009, in Chicago, USA. The award honors one person each year whose work has had a demonstrable impact on practice outside the academy, with clear benefits to the community. The award was presented to him by Patrice M. Buzzanell, President of the International Communication Association. At the ceremony a brief statement about his accomplishments and the ways his work has had sustainable social benefits was presented by the ICA: “Dr.
Village Health Nurses (VHN) are the last-mile health workers attending to the primary health care needs of the rural villagers in the state of Tamil Nadu; where the real-time biosruveillance program (RTBP) is being pilot tested in India. They work under harsh conditions. For instance transportation schedule is limited to a bus that leaves in the morning and returns in the afternoon. Baking and sweating in the hot sun in Sivaganga District of Tamil Nadu, they walk for several kilometers, carrying a heavy load of Registers, making house calls to give the much needed health care to the rural poor. During a recent workshop, in Tamil Nadu, a discussion around the accountability of submitting data revealed that the VHN sometimes cheat on the statistics they tediously record on large volumes of paper forms.
Tharoor recalled the infamous words of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s communications minister in the 1970s, C.M. Stephen. In response to questions decrying the rampant telephone breakdowns in the country, the minister declared in Parliament that telephones were a luxury, not a right. He added that ‘any Indian who was not satisfied with his telephone service could return his phone’ — since there was an eight-year waiting list of people seeking this supposedly inadequate product.
Teleuse@BOP3, LIRNEasia’s six country study has shown that between 2006 and 2008 there has been significant uptake of mobiles by the BOP in emerging Asia. Access to computers on the other hand (see here for numbers)  in these countries at the BOP is minimal.  Together with the increasing capabilities of mobiles to deliver an array of services, which essentially boil down to what you can do on the Internet (information publication and retrieval, transactions, etc) this means that much of the BOP will have their first Internet experience through a mobile. The current issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons quarterly magazine highlights LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study findings from India, illustrating this point. Mobiles are now the most common form of communication, pushing public phones into second place… The rapid evolution of the mobile into a multi-purpose communications and knowledge tool combined with its fast adoption by the BOP, means they and the majority of people in the developing world are likely to have their first Internet experience via a mobile.
In line with our current research focus on mobile-beyond-voice, we have been highlighting some novel information services that could be provided over the mobile.  Here is another.  In operation in India now. A number of civic groups, meanwhile, have devised cellphone-based ways of informing voters about candidates for Parliament. If you text your postal code to the Association for Democratic Reforms, it will reply with candidate profiles like this: CANDIDATE A Crim.
Until recently, I believed, with Richard Heeks quoted below, that radio is found in more homes (at the BOP or all) than phones and TVs. Survey data from the BOP at three countries that account for the world’s greatest concentration of poor people (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) tell a story that contradicts the common wisdom. In India, 58% of BOP households have TVs, while only 32% have radios. And some kind of phone in the household? 45%!
Unsatisfied broadband users added flavor to both our Public Seminar and Mobile Broadband QoSE workshop. That included university students prevented access during the residential peak to Wi-Max subscribers experiencing 20% of the promised speed – even with perfect LoS (Line of Sight). Such complaints are common and not limited to Sri Lanka. From Indonesia to India and from Bangladesh to Philippines we find broadband users rant not receiving the promised. We empathise with them, but this hardly an Asian or a developing world issue.
The demand-side data generated by the Teleuse @ BOP 3 study clearly shows the urban-rural gap among teleusing households (those who own some kind of mobile phone or have a fixed phone in the house) significantly narrowing. But respected colleagues are citing supply-side data to assert not only that the gap is not narrowing, but that it is significantly widening. This is contradictory not only with our demand-side results, but also with the claims made by the Indian Minister. We hope they will engage with us on clearing this fog. More perilous, however, is the inequality between rural and urban India.
A paper authored jointly by Professor Subhash Bhatnagar and Nupur Singh titled “Results from a study of impact of eGovernment projects in India”, was selected as the Best Paper at ICTD 2009 held recently in Doha. Our warm congratulations to Professor Bhatnagar and his co-author. Subhash, who is leading the work on one of our Mobile 2.0 components, had a 20 minute one-on-one with the Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates. ICTD 2009 was attended on a scholarship by Nirmali Sivapragasam of LIRNEasia.
Just five years ago, the Indian telecom industry’s massive momentum barely included the poor.  The country had slightly over seven access paths (fixed and mobile connections) per 100 people, but in rural India 100 people were served by only 1.5 access paths.  Even in urban India, the poor were unconnected. But now, the picture is different.
Proceedings from LIRNEasia’s Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) dissemination event,  held on March 6th, 2009, have been published in Voice&Data, India’s leading magazine on the business of communications, and also LIRNEasia’s collaborating partner for the event.   Over seventy key experts of the telecom industry participated at the event, with aim of understanding and sharing the key challenges in the Indian policy and regulatory environment and the solutions available. Delivering the keynote address, RN Prabhakar, member, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India explained the challenges faced by a regulator during the course of development. The event saw the release of the TRE survey, jointly presented by Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik. A panel discussion on ‘Challenging Policy and Regulatory Environment,’ was also held.
Impressive science is being produced as a result of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The focus now must be on creating systems within national governments that will allow the best use of science. Modeling data on projected tsunami arrival times (if any) were available to all on September 12, 2007. There is no evidence that the government’s hasty evacuation order took into account any of this information. A new mathematical formula that could be used to give advance warning of where a tsunami is likely to hit and how destructive it will be has been worked out by scientists at Newcastle University.