Media


I have never been able to understand the satellite fixation some of the decision makers in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have. But Myanmar’s plans for a geostationary satellite for broadcasting makes sense. Myanmar has a population density that is very low (76 people per sq. km, compared with 1,103 for Bangladesh and 309 for Sri Lanka) and it is a vast country (676,577 sq km v 143,998 sq km in Bangladesh and 65,610 sq km in Sri Lanka). A national broadcast satellite may make sense, though they should always compare the costs against the alternative of using channels on regional satellites.
The research was done in Sri Lanka, but it was first reported on in India, then in Bangladesh and now the Sri Lankan English-language Sunday newspaper with the largest circulation has chosen to reprint what Nalaka Gunawardene wrote for SciDev. Now we need to work on Pakistan and Nepal. City planners need to know where people live and congregate, when and how they move, their economic conditions, where they spend their money, and about their social networks. Currently the best big data source for these variables involves mobile phones – ubiquitous device used by the rich and poor alike. Mobile network big data (MNBD) is produced by all phones, smart and otherwise, and include call detail records (CDRs) generated when calls and texts are sent or received, web is accessed, and prepaid values are loaded.
The October 13th dissemination event has generated more coverage, this time in the Sunday Times, the leading English weekly. LIRNEasia, a think tank headquartered in Sri Lanka and representing South Asian, has teamed up with the Lanka Fruits, Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association (LFVPEA) and are jointly involved in a project to find out ways and means of obtaining more money from agriculture – and to improve the agriculture value chain to make it a win-win solution. They held an open discussion programme with expert research findings last week at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Auditorium and the focus at this open forum was on pineapple growing and how to assist the pineapple smallholders to overcome the hassles in producing quality consistent fruit, and to ascertain on adequate supplies to the export market.
The Sunday Observer reported on the dissemination workshop conducted on 13 October 2011: Kapugama said that Sri Lanka should promote high density planting and intensive management to boost pineapple cultivation in the country. Pineapple cultivators in Sri Lanka face many challenges due to the scarcity of land, healthy suckers and the absence of high yielding cultivation methods. The high cost of fertiliser is a major factor that affects the cost of production. Kapugama said that due to the problems faced by pineapple cultivators exporters and pineapple-based product manufacturers are adversely affected. “There should be a proper mechanism to obtain information on pineapple sucker providers based on their reputation”, Kapugama said.
I was too gentle the first time. I thought the UN University was taking a cheap short cut to get publicity in the tough Indian media market. But if people are talking about this comparison of toilets and mobiles one year later, it appears that the cheap shortcut has been effective, more effective than I thought. Mobiles are personal devices; toilets are generally a household amenity. Except in Mukesh Ambani’s house, the number of toilets is generally lower than the number of people living in the house.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, recently spoke at a workshop organized for the telecom reporters in Bangladesh to strengthen their understanding and know-how on telecom, especially regarding legal, regulatory and business issues. The event has received extensive media exposure. While noting that Bangladesh boasts of the some of the lowest tariffs in the world, largely a result of budget telecom network business model, Rohan argued that the government’s vision for a “digital” Bangladesh can only be met “by extending the budget telecom network model to broadband, building wireless access networks capable of handling data cost-effectively, backed up by non-discriminatory, cost-oriented access to backhaul, including redundant capacity, and offering applications that are of value to consumers, giving them reason to use broadband.” Click here to read the full article in the Daily Star. More coverage will be tracked here in the coming days.
 We continue to receive media coverage for the Islamabad Mobile 2.0 Applications and Conditions Expert Forum Meeting. M. Somasekhar’s piece on Hindu Business Line on mobile payments says: Experts from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, Thailand, the Philippines, Bhutan and Bangladesh among other nations met in Islamabad recently to discuss their experiences in providing mobile phone services for the BoP segment in their respective countries. They agreed that a beginning has been made and the road ahead appeared daunting, but technological progress promised quick results.
Findings from LIRNEasia’s study on the telecom regulatory environment in emerging Asia has been published in the Bangkok Post, one of Thailand’s leading print media. The article gives a detailed account of proceedings from a recently concluded seminar,   held in Bangkok, to disseminate the findings. Thailand’s telecommunications sector needs greater regulatory fairness as well as clarity in policy from the government on the future of former state enterprises CAT and ToT if Thailand is to secure the huge investment needed for 3G and data services moving into the future. LIRNEasia…conducted a study of the perceptions towards the regulators in eight emerging Asian economies in the second half of 2008 and representatives from the regulator NTC, ToT, the GSM Association and think-tank TDRI were invited to the report’s presentation. The event was co-hosted by LIRNE Asia, and was hosted by Chulalongkorn University’s Dr Pirongrong Ramasoota, an activist who set the tone of the event by noting that today Thailand is in competition with India to be the last of the eight Asian countries to attain 3G.
Research on Peruvian demand for telecom services by Aileen Aguero, a researcher from DIRSI, who is current working at LIRNEasia for six months, has made it to the leading newspaper in Peru. The article, which documents the introduction of bundled services by telecom companies, uses Aileen’s research on the demand for telecom services in Peru to explain the provision of varied packages by operators to suit different socio-economic groups. Her study shows that the lowest socio-economic group spends only 5% of family income on telecommunications; however, for every 10% increase in family income, Peruvians increases their spending on telecommunications by 19.7% on average. The full (local language) article is available here.
Teleuse@BOP3, LIRNEasia’s six country study has shown that between 2006 and 2008 there has been significant uptake of mobiles by the BOP in emerging Asia. Access to computers on the other hand (see here for numbers)  in these countries at the BOP is minimal.  Together with the increasing capabilities of mobiles to deliver an array of services, which essentially boil down to what you can do on the Internet (information publication and retrieval, transactions, etc) this means that much of the BOP will have their first Internet experience through a mobile. The current issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons quarterly magazine highlights LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study findings from India, illustrating this point. Mobiles are now the most common form of communication, pushing public phones into second place… The rapid evolution of the mobile into a multi-purpose communications and knowledge tool combined with its fast adoption by the BOP, means they and the majority of people in the developing world are likely to have their first Internet experience via a mobile.
An AFP story published today talks about the Indian boom in mobile connections, despite all round economic gloom: a record 15m new connections were added in India in January 2009 according to the article. India’s “mobile revolution” is still mainly seen in the cities, but the real prize for phone companies is the vast rural market, where nearly 70 percent of the 1.1-billion-strong population live, analysts say. By the end of January, 34.5 percent of the population owned a telephone, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said.
Researc h to practice is the central preoccupation of LIRNEasia. We differ from conventional researchers in our fixation on how to convey our research to policymakers, regulators, senior managers of operators and to the symbolic universe they live in. We choose our research questions and methods with this end in mind and we conduct our research on schedules determined by the need for effective communication to these key stakeholders. We measure success by whether the research that we communicate catalyzes changes in laws, policies, practices and worldviews . In this light, the SSRC organized pre-conference seemed an ideal academic event to attend after many years.
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.
LIRNEasia’s new book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks, was unveiled on the 16th of December at the IIT-Madras Campus. The first copies of the book were handed over to Chief Guests of the event, Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala and Professor William Melody. Edited by Professor Rohan Samarajiva and Ayesha Zainudeen and co-published by Sage Publications and the IDRC, this well-structured volume brings together scholars, practitioners, former regulators and policy makers to address the problem of expanding ICT connectivity in emerging Asia. It centrally engages the widespread claim that technology by itself—independent of policy and regulatory reform—can improve access to ICTs. In doing so, it shows that complex workarounds are possible, but they are significantly less effective than the appropriate policy and regulatory reforms.
With foreign journalists barred from what is one of the world’s most closed states, much of the worldwide media coverage is coming from exiled newshounds in countries such as Thailand and India — and their clandestine contacts on the inside. Technology ranging from the latest Internet gizmo to satellite uplinks to camera phones are ensuring pictures of the massed marches of monks and civilians and the response by security forces is on TV screens around the world in hours. The contrast to Myanmar’s last major uprising, in 1988, could not be more stark. Then, as many as 3,000 people were killed when soldiers opened fire on the crowds but it took days for the news — let alone pictures or video footage — to emerge. “The difference is night and day,” said Dominic Faulder, a Bangkok-based British reporter during the 1988 uprising.
14 June 2007) Rohan Samarajiva, Joseph Wilson, Harsha de Silva and Tahani Iqbal presented recent research conducted by LIRNEasia at a media and stakeholder event organized by the Pakistan Telecom Authority in Islamabad today. Following opening remarks by Chairman of PTA, Major General (R) Shahzada Alam Malik, Samarajiva and Wilson presented the new improved version of the six-country Telecom Regulatory Environment study, with emphasis on Pakistan. de Silva discussed the results of the Teleuse @ the Bottom of the Pyramid (T@BOP) survey conducted in five countries, including Pakistan. Among other things, he discussed the disparate access to ICTs between men and women at the BOP as well as the tremendous progress made in connecting large numbers of people at the BOP in the past few years. Iqbal presented comparative analysis of mobile prices in three countries of South Asia, using a basket methodology adapted from one used by the OECD since 1995.