Apparently, the eight percent tax on the gross adjusted revenues of ISPs will not be implemented. Good. TRAI had suggested a uniform licence fee of 8 per cent of the AGR (adjusted gross revenue) for all ISP and ISP-Internet Telephony licences. Government levies licence fee on AGR of telecom firms after deducting some components that are not earned from telecom services. TRAI had earlier also recommended that government levy 8 per cent licence fee from April 1, 2013, but the proposal was deferred then, after questions raised on revenue items that should be considered for calculating the final charges.
On May 9th and 10th, LIRNEasia presented a selection of its research on Bhutan and of potential relevance to Bhutan at events organized in Thimphu. The following news report indicates that BICMA the Bhutan regulatory body is acting on one of the findings of the diagnostic tests run on broadband connectivity in Bhutan that showed poor connectivity among Bhutan ISPs. Broadband users can now self-regulate the bandwidth provided by the operators with the help of software which will be made available for free. Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), in a move to facilitate the operators give better services and to emphasis evidence-derived regulations, tied up with LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank. LIRNEasia is based in Sri Lanka but works in all the South Asian countries and some South East Asian countries.
LIRNEasia’s preliminary round of mobile broadband quality testing in selected locations in Western Province unveils both hopes and issues. The good news is that the quality of both key pre-paid mobile broadband services is satisfactory, in majority of locations. However, unusual quality drops in several places indicates that this performance is not always a certainty. In general, a mobile broadband user in Western Province can expect a reasonable quality unless a rare issue like the distance from a tower or a higher number of simultaneous users hinders it. LIRNEasia tested the broadband quality of the popular pre-paid High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) broadband connections of the two key providers.
Following the appointment of Director of Information (or Propaganda) as part-time Director General of Telecom, I have been getting a lot of calls asking about Internet censorship, prohibition of Face Book, and licensing of news websites. While I do believe that (a) the Director of Information is on the face unqualified to serve as DGT, and that (b) the Department of Information has no role to play in a modern democratic society, I do not think that any of these feared things will happen. Whatever the DGT does, he has to do under the Law, the Sri Lanka Telecom Act, 25 of 1991, as amended. According to the Act, the DGT does not have legal authority; all authority lies with the Commission, a five-person body chaired by the Secretary of the relevant Ministry, at the present time Mr Lalith Weeratunge, Secretary to the President. The DGT is a member ex officio and until now, the only full-time member.
It is nice to know that we at LIRNEasia have been ahead of the curve on Broadband QoSE, including on understanding it as more than simply download speed. Professor Gonsalves’s paper on the subject is here. The NYT today carried a story that says many of the things we have been talking about for the past two years. Tracking the speed of Internet service is becoming more and more important as everyone asks the Internet to do more than handle e-mail messages and Web pages. A few lines of text can take its time arriving, but applications sending voice calls or streaming video become unusable if there is too much delay in delivery.
LIRNEasia responded to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s (BTRC) Consultation Paper ‘Standardization of Quality of Service Parameters for Broadband Internet Services’ based on the broadband research and testing done in Dhaka, New Delhi, Chennai and Colombo. We said (a) broadband is above 256 kbps, not 128 kbps; (b) minimum bandwidth requirements should be valid beyond the ISP domain; (c) operators should maintain predetermined contention ratios; (d) bandwidth ultilisation should be above 75% on average; (e) latency < 85 ms for local and <300 ms for international and (f) user surveys are important but should be supplemented by user testing which gives a more objective measure. LIRNEasia also offered assistance if BTRC plans user testing. Downloads: Consultation Paper and LIRNEasia’s Response.
Is broadband quality a subject of interest only to urban top-of-the ladder users? Not necessarily. With the latest developments in telecom services broadband access is increasingly becoming a reality to rural populations as well, even in developing countries. The penetration levels might not be the same but should that mean quality should be compromised for rural users? Broadband quality is critical for telecenters where a link is usually shared.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that it has denied the Canadian Association of Internet Providers’ (CAIP) application to end Bell Canada’s practice of “throttling” its wholesale internet services. In a decision that defies all logic, the federal agency told the coalition of 55 ISP’s that Bell Canada’s decision to discriminate against particular applications and types of content was “not discriminatory” because Bell throttled both wholesale and retail customers in an equal fashion. “Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory. Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C.
Vint Cerf, who can fairly be described as one of the godfathers of Internet has endorsed Barack Obama in the US presidential race, saying that his decision is swayed by Obama’s stance on net neutrality – the question of whether content providers should be charged more for different content by the “pipe” providers. Extracts: We believe that the Internet should remain an open environment. It’s vital to innovation. Companies like Google, and Yahoo, and eBay, and Amazon, and Skype and so on, got their start without having to get permission from any ISP or any broadband provider to offer services. They simply acquired access to the internet, put their services up and then made them available to the general public.
At the end of a long day at Telecoms World South Asia in Dhaka, I presented some of the preliminary results of the Broadband QoSE work being done with IIT Madras. I talked about the finding that the bottleneck in Chennai and Colombo appeared to be the international segment and that the first results from the testing done in Dhaka suggested the same applied to Bangladesh, with the ISPs using satellite (versus undersea cable) were suffering very high latencies. The CEO of a Pakistan ISP, Mr Wahaj us Siraj, said that the situation in Pakistan was very different, with plenty of capacity available on the undersea cables and low contention ratios (1:4) being used. Prices of international capacity had come down radically in recent times, he said, and now amount to only around 25 per cent of costs. I responded that we need to start testing in Pakistan soon, because this further illustrates the value of the AshokaTissa methodology, which allows the diagnosis of where problems exist which may vary from location to location.
One of the key debates on broadband is between those who believe in “all you can eat” service packages and pricing and those who do not. Our research so far indicates that broadband can only be provided to the Bottom of the Pyramid using the same kind of business plans that were effective in providing mobile service to the BOP, that is, not all-you-can eat. Comcast, a leading US ISP, has just announced caps on downloads. If this is the future for rich country users, can there be any doubt about what the future for BOP users in poor countries?
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.
Hopes for Wireless Cities Fade as Internet Providers Pull Out – New York Times Part of the problem was in the business model established in Philadelphia and mimicked in so many other cities, Mr. Settles said. In Philadelphia, the agreement was that the city would provide free access to city utility poles for the mounting of routers; in return the Internet service provider would agree to build the infrastructure for 23 free hotspots and to provide inexpensive citywide residential service, including 25,000 special accounts that were even cheaper for lower-income households. But soon it became clear that dependable reception required more routers than initially predicted, which drastically raised the cost of building the networks. Marketing was also slow to begin, so paid subscribers did not sign up in the numbers that providers initially hoped, Mr.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will auction licenses to operate two interconnection exchanges (ICX) and three International Gateway (IGW) facilities on November 22. Outbound PSTN and mobile calls will first terminate in the ICX. Then the calls will be processed in the IGW followed by getting routed to overseas via BTTB’s submarine cable station. Similar path will be followed for the inbound overseas calls. Foreign investments and joint ventures are strictly prohibited.
As part of a special review of ICT policy in Indonesia, e-Indonesia, the Indonesian ICT monthly magazine, interviewed a number of key stakeholders including the Minister Sofyan Djalil, Commissioners from BRTI, the regulatory body, civil society group, industry reps and ICT experts. LIRNEasia researcher, Divakar Goswami, was also interviewed. The interview is featured in the online edition here. The interview is in bahasa. The English text of the interview is below: 1.
As part of the Six Country Indicators Project, Divakar presents the interim findings from the Indonesia country study. The study assesses Indonesia’s telecom sector and regulatory performance. It employs the common methodology and list of indicators adopted for the Six Country study.