India Archives — Page 23 of 43 — LIRNEasia

Given coincidence of the SAARC Minister’s meeting and the release of LIRNEasia’s twice-a-year price benchmarks, I was tempted to see how much progress had been achieved, with regard to the Colombo Declaration’s para 6 which called for low intra-SAARC international voice tariffs. Not much progress to report, unfortunately. On the fixed side, the only countries with intra-SAARC tariffs lower than to non-SAARC countries, are Bhutan and Nepal. Bhutan, because it has a special price for India (other SAARC prices are high) and Nepal because it has not changed its extremely high tariff structure (and the lower-by-comparison intra-SAARC prices). Lanka Bell in Sri Lanka offers low prices to India, but our methodology does not capture that, because we take the prices of the largest operator, SLT.
The intention of this blog is to share the user requirements captured during the business analysis phase of the real time biosurveillance program. The state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan business cases are documented in the report. Any changes can be discussed in this blog itself.
Last year, several LIRNEasia researchers were pleased to work with Nokia on explaining the reasons behind South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) being the only countries with a TCO [total cost of ownership] below USD 5/month, when the average for almost 80 countries studied was USD 13.15. According to the latest issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons magazine (p. 10), the TCO has come down further, to USD 10.88.
The village Health Nurse (VHN) is a rural last mile primary health care worker – duties ranging from holding medical camps in schools to running a Health Service Center (HSC) in the village providing primary health care to walking door-to-door providing antenatal and post natal care. These mobile services require proper documentation; the paper work is later converted to statistics that is reviewed by the district and state Health Officials. An idea Sir Gee is to replace the 2 heavy bags with a 100gram mobile phone with built in applets to capture the same data. The Real Time Biosurveillance Program, an m-Health pilot carried out by Indian Institute of Technology Madras’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator in the Thirupathur block, to begin with, will be field testing the mobile concept of capturing the necessary and sufficient morbidity data for aggregate reports and disease surveillance. Lessons from this pilot will provide enough insight to develop the remaining applets to replace the heavy bags.
Mr Narayana Murthy of Infosys has always been a straight-talker and a clear thinker. The Sri Lanka President deserves congratulations on picking him as his advisor. He will give good advice. We hope the President will take the advice. Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday appointed N R Narayana Murthy, chairman of India’s Infosys Technologies, as his international advisor on information technology, the president’s office said.
In the course of her research on India’s telecom policy and regulatory environment, LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow Payal Malik calculated the HHIs for different circles in India and found them to be very low.  Drawing on other TRE research and the literature, she has made a comparative assessment of the level of competition in India and a prognostication on the direction of mobile tariffs in an interview with the Economic Times. Lirneasia’s senior research fellow Payal Malik had published the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) – the index for market concentration – in the telecom markets of South Asian countries, last year. Lower the HHI, higher the competitiveness in a market. India’s turned out to be the lowest at 2000, as compared to Indonesia’s 3400 and Thailand’s 3900.

On the cons of satellites

Posted on February 13, 2009  /  4 Comments

Satellites were the darlings of the development set back when I was in grad school in the 1980s.   When I returned to Sri Lanka and started working at the Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Modern Technologies, one of my assignments was to get Sri Lanka connected to the Internet via satellite.  It didn’t, and I left. As a result, I’ve acquired quite a bit of knowledge on satellites along the way.
As a trial the State of Tamil Nadu, in India, is piloting the use of mobile phones with Village Health Nurses (VHN) to talk with the Deputy Director of Health Service (DDHS) and Public Health Center (PHC) staff as and when they need. Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (IITM) will add on a m-Health Survey application to add value to the mobile phones for the VHN to share patient disease and syndrome information. Besides digitizing health records, the VHN are eager to learn other communcation features such as SMS, WWW (GPRS), and Email. Team of Researchers from IITM’s Rural Technology and Buisness Incubator (RTBI) visited with the Thirupathur Block VHNs to outline the Real-Time Biosurveillance Program, a pilot project carried out in India and Sri Lanka. The meeting is documented in the “IITM VHN meeting report“.
Today, Lanka Bell (the cable partner of Reliance through Flag), announced that calls to India would henceforth cost LKR 0.07 a minute, among the lowest IDD rates offered.   They have not got around to updating their website, but newspaper ads should count for something. What is causing downward pressure on international call rates to India?  Just a short time back, Dialog cut prices to India.

Are mobilephone markets saturated?

Posted on February 4, 2009  /  0 Comments

According to analysts who see the world as made up of the US market, yes: Analysts and investors are beginning to ask whether the industry can continue growing. The challenge is both simple and daunting: how to expand when more than half of the six billion people on the planet already have phones. And even in developing countries where there are underserved markets, subscribers spend less on phones and services. Craig Moffett, an industry analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, is one of the skeptics.
Several of the pilot projects presented at the 2nd Pan Asian evidence-based e-Health adoptation and application (in short form – Panacea), were m-Health projects. One of the Panacea projects THIRRA and LIRNEasia lead RTBP share some aspects one being working on disease information communication in Sri Lanka; however, differs in the goals where THIRRA aims to digitize the H-544 health form at the Public Health Inspector’s point of service – at the patient’s home. On the other hand, RTBP will digitize minimal set of parameters: location (postal code), disease (ICD Code), symptom, sign, age, and gender collected from health provider facilities. Some of the other m-Health projects; especially in Philippines, involved Filipino rural community health care workers strictly using SMS with prearranged formatted strings for communicating field data to a central database. Prof.
An article published by the Business Standard, India, states that telecom operators should focus on their most profitable customers, those at the top of the pyramid or TOP, instead of following bottom of the pyramid (BOP)-focused strategies. The article cites a study by BDA, a consulting firm in India, which finds that the TOP contributes a greater percentage to revenue than their lower-income counterparts.  An interesting debate has ensued, here and here,  on the economics of serving the BOP. Although such figures appear to economically justify abandoning BOP-focused telecom strategies, some argue that there seems to be more to the picture than first meets the eye.  Rob Katz of Nextbillion.

DoT, BSNL in MoU for rural reach

Posted on January 27, 2009  /  0 Comments

The Business Standard, 27 January 2009 The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to provide wireless broadband in rural areas. Under the MoU, BSNL will provide wireless broadband at 29,000 rural exchanges throughout the country. Each exchange will have 31 connections along with one kiosk for public use. A DoT official said, “Out of these 31 connections, 6 will be used by institutions like schools, while the rest will be for individual users.” The implementation of the entire project is expected to be completed by 2011.
The number of people going online has passed one billion for the first time, according to comScore, an online metrics company. Almost 180m internet users—over one in six of the world’s online population—live in China, more than any other country. Until a few months ago America had most web users, but with 163m people online, or over half of its total population, it has reached saturation point. More populous countries such as China, Brazil and India have many more potential users and will eventually overtake those western countries with already high penetration rates. ComScore counts only unique users above the age of 15 and excludes access in internet cafes and via mobile devices.
A little bit of authoritarianism from a government can sometimes be a good thing – especially if it means getting your country’s telecoms industry in working order. That sentiment goes against the grain, but when you contrast the telecoms regulations in the region’s megamarkets of China and India, you can hardly help but conclude that the iron fist is preferable to the velvet glove when it comes to delivering clear-cut regulatory outcomes. India is praised for being the world’s largest democracy, but there is little doubt that its admirable ethos of allowing every man to have a say on every issue – including critical regulatory ones – is holding back its telecoms market in many respects. If there is one industry that needs a fast-moving regulatory process in which decisions are handed down smoothly and with minimum delay, it is the telecoms industry. Few industries can compare to the telecoms industry, where technologies are constantly evolving and competition in a country can be seriously compromised if a regulator does not ensure a timely and orderly deployment of new services, such as 3G or high-speed broadband.

India: The Impact of Mobile Phones

Posted on January 20, 2009  /  0 Comments

A recent report of the same title, published by Vodafone and ICRIER, India, reveal that Indian states with high mobile penetration can be expected to grow faster than those states with lower mobile penetration rates, namely, 1.2% points for every 10% increase in the penetration rate. The research also highlights the role of mobile along with complementary skills and other infrastructure, for the full realization of benefits of access to communications in agriculture and among SMEs.  Importantly, telecommunications cannot be seen in isolation from other parts of the development process. In urban slums, the research reveals the importance of network effects, i.