Mobile Archives — Page 8 of 28


A report from the Innovation and Information Technology Foundation has been used as the basis for a good report in the Daily Star on the situation in the worst offender, Bangladesh. Of course, it did not hurt that they sought our comments. Our comments were based on the findings of the Systematic Review we completed on the benefits of mobile phones. For instance, in Bangladesh, the telecom infrastructure providers pay 55 percent taxes to import capital equipment and 24 percent for optical fibre cable. Mobile handsets are slapped with 21 percent duty when they enter the country.
I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the choice of a Japanese standard for digital broadcasting in Sri Lanka, as part of the process of clearing the 700 MHz band of analog TV broadcasting and making the freed up spectrum available for more productive uses. I have not commented, partly because I lack the time to research the subject. But I have not made the effort to reallocate priorities in order to make time for this task because I know that refarming (which is what the digital transition is in essence) is inherently problematic and hard to do. There are pros and cons associated with all standards and there are vested interests that benefit or lose from any standards decision. I have lived long enough to know that there is no objective and undisputed superior standard.

Give big data, or be forced . . .

Posted on October 24, 2014  /  1 Comments

We’re thinking about how we can leverage mobile network big data to help manage infectious diseases. Now the Economist has gotten on the case: Doing the same with Ebola would be hard: in west Africa most people do not own a phone. But CDRs are nevertheless better than simulations based on stale, unreliable statistics. If researchers could track population flows from an area where an outbreak had occurred, they could see where it would be likeliest to break out next—and therefore where they should deploy their limited resources. Yet despite months of talks, and the efforts of the mobile-network operators’ trade association and several smaller UN agencies, telecoms firms have not let researchers use the data (see article).

Has “broadband” but no mobile

Posted on October 22, 2014  /  1 Comments

I’ve been fascinated with cellar dweller countries for a while. I thought North Korea was the country at the bottom, but then discovered St Helena. So now it appears that St Helena is getting an airport and maybe even a submarine cable? St Helena is a small island heading for big change. One of the most isolated islands in the world, St Helena has been used as a stopover for passing ships on the pre-Suez canal route from Europe to Asia and South Africa and as a place of exile.
In Pakistan, they are asking for fingerprints. In India, Aadhaar: ET has learnt that the security establishment is now veering towards the view that since Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI) claims that it has back-end data of most of Aadhaar recipients in the form of address proof document submitted by them while applying for an UID number, Aadhaar as e-KYC can be extended to provision of SIM cards. “Banks are already accepting Aadhaar as e-KYC for opening new bank accounts. Extending this to SIM cards is a major feature of the PM’s Digital India plan. IB’s concerns are being addressed but the project cannot be derailed,” a senior government official said.
The spread of infectious diseases is affected by the movement of people. We were thinking how this could be tracked using mobile network big data. Others are already doing it. All strength to them. The people of West Africa, and the world, need all the help they can get.
The Hindu Businessline, a newspaper with sophisticated business coverage especially on ICT issues, has introduced our big data work to its readers. Can telecom networks be used for better urban planning? Colombo-based ICT think tank, LIRNEasia, has completed a project which used data from telecom networks in Sri Lanka to generate patterns related to population movement that showed concentration of people in a city at any given time of the day. LIRNEasia used data generated from mobile usage to create heatmaps that showed for example, how Colombo city acts as a sink, sucking people out of the surrounding suburbs during work times and North Colombo, which is the poorest part of the city, is integrally connected to the southern part of the city, providing labour to the rest of the city. Full report.
We’ve been thinking about how to promote mobile innovation for some time. Many governments are also grappling with this issue. What Ooredoo is doing in Myanmar is worth the attention of all in this space. They are picking innovators from large competitions and giving them expert help. What is truly unusual is that they will not take the equity stake they are entitled to take, unless the new company grows to USD 1 million.
So Telenor is about to hit the market. They’ve got to work smarter, lacking the billions (USD 15, but I’ve heard even larger numbers) Ooredoo is committed to invest. Being the late comer, Telenor is betting on service quality as well as extensive marketing network to ensure success. While MPT assigned 13 companies and shops to sell its SIM cards, Telenor said that its products would be available at 1,500 shops in Mandalay alone. In direct competition against MPT, Telenor is also offering two low-cost mobile handsets, an entry level second-generation phone and entry level smart phone, for Ks 19,900 [USD 20] and Ks 49,900 [USD 50] respectively.
If broadband is to be provided at affordable costs, the last mile will for the most part be wireless. Unless people allow towers to be built, this will not be feasible. The Gujarat High Court decision will help. The latest verdict of the Gujarat High Court that base stations for wireless data and mobile communications pose no threat to health if prescribed norms are followed will have far-reaching impact on erasing people’s fears, say industry experts. The 25-page order of a Gujarat High Court bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.
Incumbent telcos see competition as an unmitigated evil. But what happens is that competition energizes the market and creates new demand. If the incumbent is decently managed, it can catch some (and possibly most) of this demand. After all, it is the known brand. And competitors have their own problems in the start-up phase.
This is not immediately relevant to our market segment, but it will become so over time. This has the potential to displace laptops and small smartphones. The economies of scale will kick in, and prices will come down. And a key element in the Internet eco system will be put in place. According to a new forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, worldwide phablet shipments (smartphones with screen sizes from 5.
Net neutrality sticks in one’s mind. Alliteration helps. The guy who cooked up the term ran for Lieutenant Governor nomination in New York and lost, but not too badly. Guess that helps explain its inherent openness to multiple meaning imposition. Net neutrality has an extraordinary range of meanings, not all consistent with each other.
Xinhua reports mobile SIM numbers for Myanmar as of April 2014. Helped by the lower than estimated population numbers given by the latest census that came out a week back, this means that Myanmar is well on its way to achieving its telecom penetration targets. The current SIM penetration is not known, but if we add 1 million to the Xinhua numbers (reported to be what Ooredoo achieved in first three weeks of rollout), the SIM/100 reaches 18. The number of Myanmar’s mobile phone users has been on sharp rise, reaching 8.278 million as of April 2014, up 7.
Iran has released 3G and 4G frequencies. It is now possible to share pictures taken by one’s phone. The Islamic Republic has eased up on its efforts to strangle the Internet, while not actually killing it. I’ve been talking about this off and on. But, Iran has added a new twist.
Governments provisioning e government services have to address two specific policy principles with regard to infrastructure: ensure universal access to their services and assure a higher level of reliability than with comparable private services. I will leave the second principle for later discussion. Unlike a decade or so ago, governments today do not have to rely solely on common-access centers (telecenters) to provide universal access. In most countries, mobile signals cover a significant proportion of the population and prompt policy action can increase the percentage quickly; many households have at least one electronic access device; the few that do not, can gain such access. Today’s smartphones have capabilities little different from the early telecenters, except for functionalities such as printing, scanning, etc.