India


Looks like some people can’t get out of the old habits of trying to regulate everything and anything.  The license raj is not quite dead, sadly. Parents are best positioned to make these kinds of decisions, not blowhard Babus.  The state should not try to micro-manage people’s lives.  Leave the decisions to those best positioned to make them; don’t issue regulations that are impossible to enforce.

BPO @ BOP

Posted by on September 11, 2007  /  70 Comments

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) at the Bottom of Pyramid (BOP) level is still not too common. Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala accompanied by a LIRNEasia team made a visit to Mahawilachchiya to have a close look at the first (still emerging) rural BPO there recently. On the same day, The Economic Times of India quoted Prof. Jhunjhunwala saying: ““Like manufacturing grew in China, services and manufacturing should grow in rural India.
World now has 4b phone lines, says UN | Sep 05, 2007 | telecomasia.net (Associated Press via NewsEdge) Largely because of the mobile phone boom in developing countries, telephone service has quadrupled in the past decade to 4 billion lines worldwide, according to a report from the UN telecommunications agency.

The rural revolution

Posted by Abu Saeed Khan on August 31, 2007  /  0 Comments

In the remote agricultural province of Lao Cai in Vietnam a few shared community phones are being replaced with high-speed WiMAX broadband connections and VoIP telephony for thousands of residents.   In rural Cambodia, a new 3G/UMTS mobile network is being deployed for delivery of high-bandwidth wireless services, including live streaming of mobile TV channels.   In rural India, farmers can monitor crop prices and place orders for goods electronically by visiting broadband “community centers” that are taking root around the country.  All are examples of a “rural revolution” enveloping less-developed countries in Asia and around the world, made possible by advanced telecommunications technologies such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX and 3G.   This revolution is bringing high-speed Internet access and next-generation telephony to millions of users who previously had little or no access to even the most basic telecoms services.
In a move that could enhance competition and spur mergers in an industry waiting to consolidate, India’s telecom regulator TRAI has recommended that there be no limit on the number of players in this sector.   The TRAI also pushed for the relaxation of stringent merger and acquisitions norms, technology neutrality for telecom licences, in addition to suggesting that both GSM and CDMA players pay an entry fee and higher spectrum fee additional 2G radio frequency allocation.   TRAI has called for the setting up of a multi-disciplinary committee consisting of representatives from the department of telecom, the Telecom Engineering Centre, the telecom regulator, the wireless planning and co-ordination wing and operators’ associations be set up to frame the new spectrum allocation criteria, different from the subscriber base-linked policy followed currently. Read more.
Yahoo has upgraded its free email service to put users in touch with mobile subscribers.  The improved platform allows users to exchange text messages with mobile phones and comes as the portal experiments with making its Mail application “a stickier experience”.   It offers a trio of contact options including basic email, Web chat and the transmission of text messages to mobile.   The text-to-mobile feature is initially available in the US, Canada, India and the Philippines but will expand to a further 21 other markets within next six weeks.   Mail users simply type-in a phone number to the email address field to send a text message to wireless friends – although some carriers have already announced they will charge for delivery.
A comparison of the customer numbers for China and India for the end of July 2007 yields some interesting results.   Although in real terms China is still by far the largest mobile market in the world, with 491 million subscribers to India’s 189 million at the end of July, the Indian market continues to outpace the Chinese market in terms of growth.   The figures are somewhat skewed by the fact that the AUSPI, one of India’s regulatory bodies, has moved to including all Wireless Local Loop (WLL) customers in its definition of Mobile, as Reliance did some time back.   This move has positively impacted numbers by just over 4.7 million, which goes some way towards explaining the astonishing 12.
We could still do better; But more taxes could kill the industry The Nation Economist, Sunday 26 August 2007 | See Print version I have to say that JHU does not know economics. What is the rationale behind taxing the only sector that is growing? The industry is giving government enormous amount of revenue. Twenty percent of every mobile rupee goes to the government. If you squeeze the goose for more eggs the goose will ultimately die.
The Regional Development Dialogue, published by the UN Centre for Regional Development, in its most recent issue (volume 27(2), Autumn 2006, published in August 2007?!) carries two articles by Shoban Rainford, then at ICTA, and Harsha Liyanage, Sarvodaya  on e Sri Lanka and the telecenter component within e Sri Lanka.   In an invited comment, LIRNEasia‘s Rohan Samarajiva and Helani Galpaya,  identify the e Sri Lanka  initiative’s 1919 Government Information Center as  a good example of  pro-poor e-governance, because the information is available through the telephone, a technology that is more easily accessible to the poor than the Internet and telecenters. The special issue is edited by Subash Bhatnagar, an acknowledged expert on e government who provides a good summary, marred unfortunately by the use of wrong data in Table 1 (p.
As LIRNEasia plans its research program for 2008-09, the issue of money transfers through mobiles (first raised in the academic literature, to the best of my knowledge, by Professor Jens Arnbak  in his contribution to a book that I co-edited in 2002) is rising in importance in the news as well as in our own thinking.    Migrant Cash Is World Economic Giant – Forbes.com _ India is the world leader in remittances, taking in $23.7 billion in 2005 and an estimated $26.9 billion last year, the World Bank says.
Two of our researchers have been selected to present papers at the 35th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy which will be held in Virginia, USA on September 28-30, 2007. Helani Galpaya will present “The Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) Assessment: methodology and implementation results from six emerging economies” at the session on Trade and Harmonizations of Telecommunication Policies on September 30 2007. Payal Malik will present “India’s Universal Service Obligation for Rural Telecommunications: Issues of Design and Implementation” at the session on Promoting Universal Connectivity on September 29 2007. The papers are available on the TPRC website: ‘Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) assessment: Methodology and implementation results from five emerging economies,’ by Rohan Samarajiva, Helani Galpaya, Divakar Goswami and Dimuthu Ratnadiwakara ‘India’s Universal Service Obligation for Rural Telecommunications: Issues of Design and Implementation,’ by Payal Malik The TPRC, a non-profit organization, hosts this annual forum for scholars engaged in publishable research on policy-relevant telecommunications and information issues, and for public- and private-sector decision makers engaged in telecommunications and information policy. The purpose of the conference is to acquaint policy makers with the best of recent research and to familiarize researchers with the knowledge needs of policy makers.
Smith Dharmasarojana is a hero to those in the disaster risk-reduction field. He was the Met Chief who raised the flag re a tsunami hitting Thailand well before 2004 December. He lost his job as a result. When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami did hit, he was recalled and made the disaster-preparedness czar. Because of his drive, Thailand is among the best prepared for a tsunami or similar disaster today.

Bharti to offer mobile 2.0

Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on August 15, 2007  /  0 Comments

There has been much speculation about the strategy that will be adopted by the Indian juggernaut Bharti when it enters the Sri Lankan mobile market as the fifth player.   Bharti is offering food for thought, though of course, reality may not always match what is told at news conferences. LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE – LBO Bharti Airtel will offer value added services, especially music which has been a big hit in the Indian market. “We do more music in India than some of the music companies,” Kapoor said. With broadband and 3G services telecom firms can offer more applications for customers, Kapoor said, adding that they would be “aiming for share of wallet rather than share of telecom.
The ITU’s World Information Society Report 2007 contains the following discussion of one of LIRNEasia’s flagship products, the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) assessment, in Chapter 2, Bridging the digital divide (p. 32). “One innovative approach adopted recently in the Asian market is to try to quantify the extent of sector reform. LIRNEAsia has conducted research into the regulatory environment in six Asian economies (India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand). Their research is based on interviews rating performance in market entry, scarce resources, interconnection, prices, anticompetitive practices and universal service.
India’s MTNL, Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications along with France Telecom, South Africa’s Telkom, British Telecom and Kuwait’s Alkazar are vying for a 51 per cent controlling share of Kenya’s sole provider of fixed line services. In Nairobi last week the plan to privatise Telkom Kenya was presented in detail at a two-day government-inspired and sponsored conference. It was very successful and the proposed sell-off of the the East African country’s state-run incumbent has now attracted seven potential bidders. Read more.
LIRNEasia is privileged to be associated with Professor Ashok Jhunjunwala, who is featured in this special interview by Rediff.   Ashok serves as Chair of CPRsouth, LIRNEasia’s principal capacity building initiative, and on LIRNEasia’s International Advisory Board.   He will visit Sri Lanka for the first time to deliver a keynote address at the South Asia Broadband Congess and Expo in Colombo, 4-6 September, 2007.  He is truly an inspiring public intellectual. rediff.