India Archives — Page 24 of 43


Should telcos abandon the BOP market?

Posted on February 3, 2009  /  5 Comments

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.
In August 2008, LIRNEasia made a big push to eliminate the anomaly of intra-SAARC calls that were more expensive than calls to Singapore, UK, USA and other liberalized markets.  This bore fruit in the form of para 6 of the SAARC Summit Declaration: The Heads of State or Government observed that an effective and economical regional tele-communication regime is an essential factor of connectivity, encouraging the growth of people-centric partnerships. They stressed the need for the Member States to endeavour to move towards a uniformly applicable low tariff, for international direct dial calls within the region. While the regulators are cogitating. it appears that the operators are acting.
Update: Media coverage – ‘Prudent Trade and Policy Strategies with India will benefit Sri Lanka‘, The Island, 15.01.09 — This work was outside LIRNEasia‘s core research program, but is still relevant because it addresses questions on services trade and investment between two countries LIRNEasia works in.  The forum was Sanvada, a policy dialogue run by the Pathfinder Foundation.   One of the key claims is that a framework agreement with some disciplinary force would be of greater value to Sri Lanka as a small country in its relations with India, and that this is even more true for services trade.

India: 3G Auction on Jan 30

Posted on January 3, 2009  /  0 Comments

India’s Department of Telecommunications, or DoT, Friday said the auction of radio bandwidth for third generation, or 3G, mobile phone services will take place as per schedule on Jan. 30 and that there will be no further delay. Analysts and industry players, however, expect the process not just to be further delayed, but also to attract fewer participants for the bidding process. Their apprehension follows recent media reports, citing government documents, that the finance ministry has sought to double the auction price for pan-India 3G radio bandwidth, or spectrum, to INR40.40 billion.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to review interconnect usage charges (IUC) after they were fixed back in 2002-03 and not revised since then. TRAI has set the ball rolling to revise IUC, particularly termination charge from Rs0.3/minute to Rs0.1/minute and carriage charge from Rs0.65/minute to as low as Rs0.

Sri Lanka: Whither onshore BPOs @BOP?

Posted on December 29, 2008  /  8 Comments

Recessions are not bad for everybody. Proverbial silver line in the cloud, they bring hope to some. Success of the India BPO industry can partially be attributed to the post 9/11 recession. Tighter the economy, cheaper the solutions business looks for. How far onshore rural BPOs cater to the needs of their clients?
Everyone is betting big on the telecom growth story as it is steadily gaining traction amidst the global financial turmoil. This sector has emerged as a big contributor to the GDP and has recorded a 42.2% growth in the quarter ended Sep ‘08. Telecom is being seen as a significant contributor to the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI). The launch of 3G will give a big boost to services.
For a country that stood at the bottom of the pyramid in terms of telecom penetration a decade ago, 2008 was a watershed when India’s subscriber base topped 350 million users to make its network the second largest in the world after China, displacing the US. The significant achievement was made possible by the mobile telephony segment of communications, which was once thought to be a gizmo for the rich – what with a tariff of Rs.16.80 per call when the telecom revolution began in the country in the early 1990s. But with tariff falling to 40 paise a call and incoming calls becoming free, mobile telephony began to appeal to the masses.
Four years to history, ‘Your tears are mine’ (see below) was my reaction to Asian tsunami. Reproduced in multiple sites, it was recited once in a remembrance event. Though written more in a Sri Lankan context, let me pick it again today, to remember all 225,000 lives lost, in the worst tsunami in recent history – that caused vast damage to four countries LIRNEasia closely works in, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. Not my every wish was granted. The aftermath of tsunami, instead of creating a division-free society demonstrated how pathetically the disparities were amplified.
“I think in many areas today if we don’t bypass some of the generational changes would be very difficult to implement because of the mindset. So C-Dot was setup as a group of young people dedicated to designing through indigenous development of the telecom switching systems and related products with focused on rural communication, digitisation of the telecom network and with a focus on building human capacity for telecom, software, computers all of that. We had some total of about 500 young engineers with average age of 23. I would say almost all of those people are now very important, in key positions in global ICT revolution everywhere all over the world. There were some very interesting activities we launched then and those were the seeds we planted.
Even as SIM cards have become the focus of investigations to establish the identity of the Mumbai attackers, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has found that at least two lakh mobile phone users, almost 20% of the total vetted connections so far, had provided fake identity papers and their addresses were unverified. In an ongoing audit, ordered by the government to establish the genuineness of customers, DoT found that out of 10 lakh connections verified so far, more than 2 lakh had been issued to customers whose identity could not be established. The extent of fake identities has rattled the government which has started penalising service providers at Rs 1,000 for every fake user found. Sleuths suspect that the Mumbai attackers, like in the past, had obtained SIM cards on fake identity and had used it for communication with their handlers across the border. Though details are yet to be made public, officials have procured details of SIM cards from where they were procured and whose identities were used for the same.
Surprises me, the skepticism of some Bangla friends here about their own broadband potential. The rest of the world seems to think otherwise. In the maps above the country sizes indicate their Internet penetration. Bigger the country more widespread is the net. (Found them sometime back in Cyber Geography, but cannot locate the source anymore.