India


LIRNEasia’s maiden telecom reform course was successfully completed by 36 participants from 18 countries. The 10th telecom reform course was co-organised with LIRNE.NET, in association with the School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University, and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. Themed ‘Catalyzing change:  Strategies to achieve connectivity and convergence,’ the course took place at the Elizabeth Hotel in Singapore on the 24th-30th September 2005. see pics The course aimed to prepare regulators to face the challenges that lie ahead to achieve connectivity and convergence.
[By SHARON LaFRANIERE, New York Times, Aug.25.05] This NYT article looks at Africa’s mobile boom, stating that it has taken the industry by surprise; common wisdom was that Africans are not big telecom users. But ‘it turned out that Africans had never been big phone users because nobody had given them the chance.’ Today, one in eleven Africans (roughly 9%) is a mobile subscriber.
by Sriganesh Lokanathan The study has been undertaken in keeping with the proposed 2006 theme of the World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economies (WDR), ‘Sector and Regulatory Performance Indicators.’ The definition of standardized benchmark indicators with their respective viable methodologies in the Asian context is required for an accurate comparative analysis of the regulatory and sector performance in ICTs. Recognizing that this constitutes a participatory exercise among experts in the telecommunication industry standards and regulatory affairs, telecom authorities and statistical organizations as well as academics and interested individuals, this preliminary methodology framework document was commissioned to lay the groundwork to initiate and foster active discussion among the aforementioned participants on issues related to the proposed 2006 WDR theme. With these guiding principles, this preliminary methodology on domestic leased line tariffs was formulated since national leased line tariffs is an important indictor of the potential of countries to foster broadband coverage and network expansion. LIRNEasia intends to test the methodology first in the South Asian region and then extend it to the rest of Asia.

Fixed line substitution

Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on August 23, 2005  /  4 Comments

The research that is currently being written up by LIRNEasia researchers on ICT use on a shoestring is expected to shed light on fixed-mobile substitution, given the fact that India has been successful in introducing CPP for its mobiles and mobile and fixed outgoing charges have more or less converged.  The news story that MTNL, the incumbent in Mumbai and New Delhi, has decided to deploy special teams to halt the ending of fixed subscriptions is good evidence that there is fixed-mobile substitution in India.  Caution should be exercised in generalizing from this to other countries where the conditions of CPP and price convergence have not been satisfied.
LIRNEasia, in association with LIRNE.NET, Nanyang Technological University and the InfoComm Development Authority of Singapore is offering an executive course in regulatory strategy in Singapore, Sept 25-30, 2005.   This limited-enrollment course is 70 per cent subscribed at this time.  Participants representing government, regulatory agencies, telecom operators, universities and civil society from 14 countries ranging from Moldova to the Philippines have already registered.  The speakers are confirmed as are the arrangements to visit the InfoComm Development Authority.
Diversifying Participation in Network Development The 2005 WDR research theme, Diversifying Participation in Network Development explores the evolving strategies used  to extend the telecom network primarily to rural, high-cost areas. The objective of this cutting edge research is to identify successful strategies that can be replicated in other countries and to avoid unsuccessful ones. Light will be shed on these innovative approaches, looking at key experience to capture the range of possible sources, types and methods of investment funding for network development. The research is currently being developed by the WDR research community in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Who should attend?
VSNL Buys Top VoIP Carrier India’s incumbent international operator, VSNL, announced today that it had agreed to buy Teleglobe, the largest international voice over IP (VoIP) carrier in the world — and former Canadian monopoly overseas voice carrier. Should the deal meet with shareholder approval and pass regulatory review, the merged company — which also includes the recently integrated Tyco Global Network — would become one of the largest multinational providers of voice, Internet, and bandwidth services. VOICE Teleglobe became the largest carrier in the 30 billion minute international VoIP market when it acquired ITXC in 2004. Although VoIP represented under 15 percent of the global call market in 2004, it is growing at double to triple the rate of the traditional public switched voice market. Combined with Teleglobe’s wholesale voice operations around the world, VSNL will become the fifth largest carrier of voice minutes in the world.
On behalf of LIRNEasia, LIRNE.NET and the School of Communication and Information at the Nanyang Technological University, it is our pleasure to extend to you a special invitation to participate in the 7th LIRNE.NET course on Telecom Reform in Singapore, September 25-30, 2005. The course, Catalyzing change: Strategies to achieve connectivity and convergence, is designed to enhance the strategic thinking of a select group of senior decision makers in the telecom and related sectors in Asia and elsewhere. Previous Telecom Reform courses have been offered in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
May 26, 2005 (Economic Times via NewsEdge) India’s Ministry of Finance has asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allocate a 3G spectrum to mobile operators through the auction route. According to the ministry, it is DoT’s responsibility to price spectrum as per international practices, citing the example of Europe and the US, where governments fetched billions of dollars in revenue by auctioning spectrum. The ministry has also said that pricing of spectrum should not be in TRAI’s domain. The finance ministry has taken the position that pricing of radio spectrum is not a regulatory issue, and hence, should not have been referred to the telecom regulator. Instead, it has argued that receipts from radio spectrum should accrue to the government as non-tax revenue.
Harsha de Silva & Payal Malik 20 May 6pm PM: specifically looking at subsidy mechanisms for diversification, hence ‘moving beyond the market . Instruments looking at are hte universal service obligation fund (USF) and hte access deficit charge (ADC). There has been a diminishing of market efficiency gap (i.e, efficiency is improving). Slide # 3 shows the major improvements in efficiency in the market.
LIRNEasia‘s next colloquium is on May 20th at 6:00PM SL Time/2:00PM Copenhagen/10:00PM Canberra/Singapore 8:00PM/5:30PM India/6:00PM Bangladesh/09:00AM Montevideo at LIRNEasia’s premises (SLIDA Campus, 28/10 Malasekera Mawatha) and via live blogging on this web site. Payal Malik & Harsha De Silva will present their progress on the research project titled Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Moving Beyond the Market which is being conducted under this year’s WDR theme–Diversifying Participation in Network Development. The researchers will present their preliminary findings from their review of the current subsidy mechanism for expansion of rural telephony in India. This mechanism is implemented through two instruments: (a)Access Deficit Charge (ADC), which is a surcharge on Interconnection fees to compensate the [primarily] the incumbent for below cost regulated tariffs in the rural areas and; (b) Universal Service Fund (USF), a fund created through a statute to finance network expansion in net high cost rural areas. The disbursement from this fund is made through a competitive least-cost subsidy mechanism.
NEW DELHI, APRIL 13: The government is in the process of amending the Indian Telegraph Act to extend the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund support to cellular mobile services (both GSM and CDMA). As of today, the government is giving USO fund support to only the fixed line operators offering services in the rural areas. “We are looking at amending the Telegraph Act to accommodate the cellular services and CDMA-based services to reach the rural areas. We are looking at sharing of the passive infrastructure with the cellular service providers,” communications and information technology (C&IT) minister Dayanidhi Maran told reporters. Besides covering the villages, the minister is of the opinion that the wireless services should also provide connectivity to the Railways and highways especially in rural areas.
By Payal Malik In his budget speech the Finance Minister of India promised a release of Rs. 1,200 crores (USD 275 million) for the Universal Service Fund. While it is heartening that the funds are being released and are not being gobbled by the Contingency Fund of India, what is however disheartening is that competition and liberalisation has not achieved its full potential in bridging the rural urban divde and like in the monopoly era one has to wait for budgetary pronouncements for rural telephony to jumpstart. An extract from his speech: Telecommunication is the best way to provide connectivity in urban and rural India. By the end of January 2005, we had achieved a tele-density of 8.

India

Posted by Indi Samarajiva on February 4, 2005  /  3 Comments

Mass computing’s next big thing runs into an archaic law that bans outdoor use of Wi-Fi Thakkar RESHMA PATIL & PRAGYA SINGH Posted online: Sunday, February 06, 2005 at 0154 hours IST Indian Express MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, FEB 5: When tech entrepreneur Jayesh Thakkar geared to connect computers—without wires—20 km away in two Vadodara offices, his corporate client first applied for a licence. They have been waiting for a year. At Mumbai, a construction giant is waiting since nine months for permission to wirelessly connect offices in two suburbs. […] ‘‘Most big corporates stay away from outdoor WiFi use because licences are cumbersome and bureaucratic,’’ says Thakkar, director, JayRaj Exim, a company WiFi-enabling offices in Mumbai. ‘‘By the time a licence arrives, what if the technology is outdated?
Mass computing’s next big thing runs into an archaic law that bans outdoor use of Wi-Fi Thakkar RESHMA PATIL & PRAGYA SINGH Posted online: Sunday, February 06, 2005 at 0154 hours IST Indian Express MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, FEB 5: When tech entrepreneur Jayesh Thakkar geared to connect computers—without wires—20 km away in two Vadodara offices, his corporate client first applied for a licence. They have been waiting for a year. At Mumbai, a construction giant is waiting since nine months for permission to wirelessly connect offices in two suburbs. […] ‘‘Most big corporates stay away from outdoor WiFi use because licences are cumbersome and bureaucratic,’’ says Thakkar, director, JayRaj Exim, a company WiFi-enabling offices in Mumbai. ‘‘By the time a licence arrives, what if the technology is outdated?

The Permanent Disaster

Posted by Indi Samarajiva on January 30, 2005  /  4 Comments

Here is an interesting article recommended by Nalaka Gunawardene: Four years ago, this magazine’s editor, environmentalist Anil Agarwal, wrote a scathing comment after the Bhuj earthquake: “Disasters come and go but our government has become a permanent disaster”. While we are vulnerable to natural disasters — cyclones, earthquakes, floods or droughts, and now the tsunami — these temporary and preventable disasters turn into massive calamities because of the “perpetual disaster that this country’s governance system has come to represent”. Why? Because earthquakes do not kill, the buildings do. Anil put the question: why, then, do we not build, in areas identified as seismic, earthquake-resistant structures?