India Archives — Page 26 of 43


State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) Monday said it has decided to share its network with private telecom companies for roaming agreements. The company will sign the first roaming agreement with new telecom operator Swan Telecom, a BSNL internal circular of the management committee meeting said. This facility will enable subscribers to enjoy seamless connectivity throughout the country. “The memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard may be signed with the seeking operators initially for six months only on non-exclusive and experimental basis,” the circular said. The circular also added that the company would revise the initial charge of 52 paise a minute for every outgoing call after six months, and the incremental additional cost of the upgrade of equipment to provide roaming facilities will be borne by the private operators.

A world free from 9/11s and tsunamis?

Posted on September 12, 2008  /  1 Comments

Exactly seven years from yesterday (still today to some), early in the morning on September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark, and Washington, D.C. The hijackers flew two of the airliners, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center. Another group of hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, whose ultimate target was either the United States Capitol or White House, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Telecom major Bharti Airtel today said the company hopes to start operations in Sri Lanka within this calendar year, despite the delay in getting interconnection from the local operators there. “Discussions are going on with the Sri Lankan telecom regulator and the existing operators there relating to the interconnection issue. It should be sorted out shortly,” company’s CEO Manoj Kohli told reporters here. “We should be in a position to start our operations there before 2008. It is as per our schedule,” he said.
The debate over Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auctions and internet telephony comes at a time when international organizations and analysts are painting a starkly contrasting picture of the Indian telecom and IT sectors. Recent International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data reveals that the success of India’s telecom revolution is restricted to mobile voice with very little to showcase in fixed line and internet access, or high-speed broadband. For a country that is the global IT and ITeS capital or the world’s back office, its own internet penetration remains one of the lowest in the world. Forecasts are equally uninspiring, projecting high-speed internet access to remain abysmal till 2012. Internet broadband penetration will limp along to eventually reach a measly 3.
While some Asia-Pacific economies are world leaders in information and communication technologies (ICT) where broadband access is ultra-high speed, affordable and close to ubiquitous, in most of the region’s poorer countries Internet access remains limited and predominantly low-speed. This is what ITU’s Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Report for the Asia-Pacific region 2008 says. It was released at ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008, Bangkok, Thailand yesterday (Sept 2, 2008). The Report finds evidence that ICTs and broadband uptake foster growth and development, but the question remains as to the optimal speed that should be targeted in view of limited resources. The area in which the region really stands out is the uptake of advanced Internet technologies, especially broadband Internet access.
Barack Obama stands for Net Neutrality while John McCain sternly opposes. Internet should be open space, says Obama, for anyone to use any application of his/her choice without discrimination. That is like saying the roads are free for anyone to drive any vehicle they like at any time. It sounds good in theory. However, in practice it is a different story.
Bangladesh and India are set to compete for the same set of telecom investors with Bangladesh announcing auctions for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum close on the heels of India unveiling its BWA policy. However, while Bangladesh’s policy is designed to attract fresh competition by keeping its existing operators and their shareholders (foreign and Bangladeshi) out of the spectrum bids, India has opted for a different route. India has restricted BWA bidding to only those who either hold an ISP or a unified access service (UAS) licence, thereby either forcing companies to acquire ISP/UAS licenses before the bidding or keeping away new entrants who are unable to acquire such licences due to price or time constraints. “Other contrasts are equally striking and show up uncomfortable flaws with India’s auction guidelines,” says a telecom analyst. While India’s BWA guidelines are just four pages, Bangladesh’s is a 57-page invitation for applications for grant of licence.
Aug 26, 2008, telecomasia.net Asia’s emerging markets, comprising eight nations, are expected to see mobile subscriber net gains of 573 million by end-2012, breaching the one billion mark to close the year at an estimated 1.06 billion subscribers, a report from research firm Frost & Sullivan said. In 2007, these emerging markets were home to some 487 million mobile users, accounting for 37.1% of Asia-Pacific’s total mobile subscriber base, the report said.
Indian mobile telecoms firms added 9.2 million users in July, taking subscribers in the world’s fastest growing wireless market to nearly 300 million, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said on Monday. Leading mobile firm Bharti Airtel signed up 2.7 million customers, enough for it to overtake state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd as India’s largest telecom firm by total subscribers, including fixed-line subscribers. Second-ranked mobile firm Reliance Communications added 1.
The complete opening of Internet telephony, as recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) a few days ago, will not only lead to steep fall in all type of call charges, be it local, national or international, but also help in increasing broadband penetration, an area where India lags behind. Industry analysts say person using Internet telephony to make calls would see his call charges falling by as much as 50-60 per cent compared to a normal telephone call today. This will benefit an ordinary home user as well as corporates and other industries alike. Internet telephony would help telecom penetration in rural India. Till now Internet telephony was allowed only between personal computers or to mobile or landlines abroad.
August has been a busy month for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and its chairman, the redoubtable Nripendra Misra, a dyed-in-wool bureaucrat who has in his regulatory avatar done arguably more than any of his predecessors on the job. He has plenty of support and equally bitter critics who wish he would give up on forbearance, cut rentals, mandate cheaper roaming and ensure per second billing instead of per minute. On August 20, the authority allowed India’s estimated 295 million telecom subscribers the freedom to use different long distance service providers without changing their service provider. Two days earlier, it had unshackled internet telephony (voice transmitted over internet protocol networks). Two weeks before that, it had opened the doors for virtual mobile networks, virgin territory in India till then.
Responding to Rohan Samarajiva’s views on newly implemented Environmental levy in Lankadeepa last week, Central Environmental Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila calls it essential and the ‘first progressive tax’ in Sri Lanka. Assuring it does not burden public, he says any tax can be initially unpopular but the impact should be seen in long term. (Lankadeepa, August 19, 2008) These are his points in brief: 1. If not for the Environmental levy, the government has to find money to address environmental issues by increasing either VAT or customs charges. That will raise prices in general.
Strange will be the telecom world in emerging markets. Free incoming calls are the norm in many counties. Ever thought it can get even better? Operator paying the mobile users for incoming? Where on earth such crazy things happen?
LIRNEasia’s ‘Rapid Response Program’ is exactly what the name suggests. We react to immediate information needs of telecom regulators, at short notice. The response might not be lengthy and as comprehensive as we would like it to be, but nevertheless helpful, as Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) have realised. LIRNEasia saw BTRC’s move to issue three new Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licenses a positive development, as Bangladesh is certainly not a country that can boast of quality and affordable broadband. This is what we learnt from our research: Exceptionally high cost of broadband remains a key barrier that prevents the development of the BPO industry in Bangladesh.
The special issue on “Community-based last-mile early warning system” carried on its back page the following contribution from Rohan Samarajiva (despite the title of the publication, it’s not possible to find this piece on the web, so what is pasted below is the pre-pub version: Between a rock and a hard place The tragedy of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was the absence of any official warning. The Bengkulu earthquake of 2007 September 12th shows that this is unlikely to be repeated. What we must guard against now is indifference to warning; of populations that will refuse to evacuate in the face of real danger. Tsunami prediction is an inexact art practiced in conditions of imperfect information and time pressure. In the Pacific Basin, which has had the most experience with tsunamis, 75 per cent of all warnings are false.
A recent LIRNEasia media outreach effort timed to coincide with the upcoming SAARC Summit in Colombo has been picked up by AFP. Leaving aside the question of the operators in the SAARC countries collectively lowering their termination rates to make possible more reasonable intra-SAARC call charges, the data also show that Pakistan has the overall lowest international telecom prices and Nepal has the highest. Hopefully, some of these prices will come down, now that the comparisons have been made! South Asian leaders urged to slash telco tariffs – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Calls were cheapest in Pakistan, where fixed and mobile phone users pay three US cents a minute to call many non-SAARC destinations, including the United States and Hong Kong. But users pay 12 US cents to call Bangladesh and India.