Technology is full of paradoxes. While Moore’s Law ensures that our computers get cheaper and faster every few months, there is no corresponding law that ensures that the same happens with our internet connections. TRAI data shows that some 60 million people in India have access to the internet. This may seem like a substantive figure, but is only 6 per cent of the population. More shocking is that while India has over 46 million wireless internet subscribers, broadband subscribers number a mere 2.
Blueshift is one of the currently India based companies looking to move to neighbouring countries like Malaysia or Singapore where they believe it would be cheaper to operate. “The corporate tax regime in this country is a tough 33% whereas when I look at neighbouring country Singapore it is only 18% at the highest level,” says Blueshift’s chairman Sankaran P Raghunathan. “In fact, most of us have to pay only 7.5%. That’s a huge difference.
India on Tuesday allowed telecoms operators to share transmission systems, radio access networks and antennae and simplified the approval process for building mobile towers.But radio spectrum, or air waves used for wireless networks, cannot be shared. Telecoms operators in India were earlier permitted to share only passive infrastructure such as mobile towers, buildings and power backup facilities. Sharing infrastructure reduces the operating costs and capital expenditure of wireless telecoms operators, allowing them to maintain margins in a competitive market that has call rates as low as 1 U.S.
23/03/08: Mobile phone service costs in Sri Lanka are cheap, even for the poor (Sinhala), Ravaya, Sri Lanka 25/03/08: Mobile is cheaper in Sri Lanka, even for the poor, The Daily News, Sri Lanka Two recent studies have found that Sri Lanka is among four countries that offer the most affordable mobile services to the poor in emerging Asia and the world. The first study conducted the LIRNEasia, a regional policy and regulation think tank, has found that the costs of using mobile telecom services are among the lowest in South Asia for all types of users. For the low user, essentially the poorer user, the average monthly cost of using a mobile in Sri Lanka is as low as US$ 3.83 per month if using prepaid. Sri Lanka came in fourth place in the affordability rankings for low users, not too far behind Bangladesh (USD2.
Sri Lanka using customs authorities to censor academics: report – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Another book by Rohan Samarajiva, from LirneAsia, a Colombo-based regional policy think tank, had been detained by customs from December. Samarajiva’s book, “ICT infrastructure in emerging Asia, Policy and Regulatory roadblocks” released by the Indian unit of academic publishing house, Sage, was launched in India in December. Sri Lanka;s customs chief Sarath Jayathilake was quoted in the report as saying that the detention was not brought to his attention and he was not aware why the books were seized. “We usually detain these books if it’s a matter of security and we refer them to Defence (Ministry) or the Government Information Department,” Jayathilake was quoted as saying. The LirneAsia publication had a chapter on telecommunications usage in the Jaffna peninsular.
At a well attended public seminar yesterday (March 18) at Institution of Engineers (Sri Lanka), LIRNEasia released its Broadband QoSE testing methodology (named ‘AshokaTissa’, after the greatest collaboration between India and Sri Lanka, the movement of Buddhism across the Palk Strait) and the preliminary test results of three of the most widely used broadband packages in Sri Lanka, SLT Office (2 Mbps / 512 kbps), SLT Home (512 kbps / 128 kbps) and Dialog (2 Mbps / 512 kbps) This was followed by the responses from SLT and Dialog Broadband. The event was jointly organised by LIRNEasia and Institution of Engineers. (Sri Lanka) Speeches/Presentations available for downloading: Comments from the Chair – Rohan Samarajiva Introduction to broadband and Test Methodology – Timothy Gonsalves Preliminary QoSE test results – Chanuka Wattegama
LIRNEasia researchers will participate at the International Communication Association conference in Montreal, Canada, May 21-26, 2008. Rohan Samarajiva will present a paper based on LIRNEasia‘s study on the gendered aspects of telecommunications use in emerging Asia, entitled, ‘Who’s Got the Phone? The Gendered Use of Telephones at the Bottom of the Pyramid‘. Abstract: ‘Much has been said about women’s access to and use of the telephone. Many studies conclude that a significant gender divide in access exists particularly in developing countries.
According to LIRNEasia’s latest comparative study of price and affordability indicators in eight South Asian countries, Bangladesh emerges as having the lowest average monthly cost of using a mobile at all levels of use (low, medium and high) for different tariff plans (prepaid and postpaid). Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka follow closely, while Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan are seen to have significantly higher average monthly mobile costs. The study compares mobile tariffs in South Asia using price baskets, derived from those used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The baskets are calculated for low, medium and high users for pre- as well as postpaid tariff plans, factoring in usage charges (voice and SMS), line rental, connection charges (depreciated over a three year period), and applicable taxes. For more information on results and methodology, please click HERE.
Sri Lanka’s state-run Bank of Ceylon has tied up with an Indian mobile commerce firm to start a text message based electronic payment system that could overtake credit card transactions, officials said. Bank of Ceylon’s new service allows its six million customers to use pay shops that join the system at the cost of a text message using a system developed by India’s, PayMate. The mobile transaction service will initially start with selected large merchants like SriLankan Airlines, Odel, Singer, Abans and Stone & String before linking up retailers in rural areas. “This opens a lot of avenues to merchants because we are bringing them six million of our customers,” Bank of Ceylon’s IT chief Nissanka Janaratne said. Read the full report in LBO here.
In a major development, the Ministry of Communications & IT has cleared applications of nine telecom aspirants and is close to issuing them Letters of Intent (LoIs). This will be followed by issuance of universal access service (UAS) licences and allocation of spectrum. The LoIs will be issued during the week, if not tomorrow. However, the allocation of spectrum would take some time as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) was finalising the amount of vacant spectrum, sources close to the development said. The proposals of the new applicants were pending with the telecom ministry after the DoT’s approval last month.
On 5 March 2008, LIRNEasia in partnership with the Indonesian Institute for Disaster Preparedness (IIDP) will hold the third and final “Sharing Knowledge on Disaster Warning: Community-based Last-Mile Warning Systems” workshop at the Hotel Borobodur in Jakarta, Indonesia. Rohan Samarajiva, Natasha Udu-gama and Nuwan Waidyanatha will participate and speak at the event alongside several Indonesian speakers from various governmental, community-based and international NGOs such as BAKORNAS PB, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), KOGAMI Padang and GTZ GITEWS. As in past HazInfo workshops in India and Bangladesh, the Indonesia workshop will not only discuss findings from the “Evaluating Last Mile Hazard Information” pilot project, but also exchange lessons learned from Indonesian counterparts.
Vodafone to launch mobile phone money transfer service in Afghanistan – Yahoo! News “This is really the early days, but when you see the low banking penetration in emerging markets, compared to rapidly growing mobile penetration, the potential is very big,” said James Moberly, senior manager for payment solutions at Vodafone on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress here. The GSM Association, the global mobile phone industry body, estimates that about a dozen such schemes involving money transfer services are in operation throughout the world, with 10 million users. Vodafone plans to launch cash transfer services soon in India and other African countries. “You can send money, withdraw cash, pay your bills or your loan, and all this is within seconds,” said Aleeda Fazal, head of product development at Afghan group Roshan, which is the partner for Vodafone in the troubled country.
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, which had announced its entry into the Sri Lankan mobile phone sector with much fanfare last year, is experiencing delays and may well be re-drawing its investment plans for the island country, says a Sri Lankan telecommunication expert. Rohan Samarajeewa, former head of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), told IANS that while there was no doubt that Bharti Airtel was committed to operating in Sri Lanka, it had altered its timetable and could well be scaling down its original investment plans. The reasons for the delay in starting the operations were in the realm of speculation, Samarajeewa said. But he did point to a possibility of difficulties in getting frequencies from the TRC, as it is generally recognized that the allotment of frequencies tends to be “highly politicised” in Sri Lanka. The parent company in India could also be changing its priorities as regards capital allocations, in the context of the growing challenges in the more lucrative Indian domestic market, Samarajeewa said.
LIRNEasia has come up with startling evidence on how transaction costs in agriculture could be reduced by simple mobile phone applications. The organization’s Lead Economist, Dr. Harsha de Silva called for a multi-stakeholder action plan to implement a series of actions that would help poor farmers as well as consumers by reducing information costs in agricultural markets and value chains. He was speaking at a panel following a public lecture by Indian Institute of Management Professor, Subhash C. Bhatnagar, who spoke on the benefits of ICT applications to farmers, taking India as an example.
Telecom sector to see funds bonanza, tariff cuts – Business News – News – MSN India – News India’s booming mobile services market will see investments of over Rs 100,000 crore (around $24 billion) by 2010, the fastest investment ramp-up seen in any telecom market globally even as analysts predict a bruising battle that will see tariffs fall sharply. The investments include between Rs 48,000 crore and 60,000 crore ($12 billion to $15 billion) from six new telecom players (including Reliance and Tatas’ proposed GSM mobile services) over 12 to 24 months to create capacity for 250 million more mobile subscribers. This fresh investment will be over and above the estimated Rs 48,000 crore ($12 billion) being put in by incumbents like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar, Idea Cellular, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices (the latter two for ramping up CDMA mobile operations) in 2008-09 alone. Powered by ScribeFire.
Rohan Samarajiva participated in the Third Annual ‘Joint Roundtable on Communications Policy – The Future of Indian Mobile’ in Kovalam, India from 7-9 February. The Round table was organized by the Aspen Institute India in collaboration with the Aspen Institute, USA. The objective of the conference was to convene Indian and American business leaders, government policy-makers, leading academics, and other experts to discuss government and business approaches to mobile commerce, mobile banking and m-governance that will have a positive effect on India’s economic and social development.