Mobile Archives — Page 9 of 28


It appears that unlike the previous government that was not of one mind regarding the centrality of mobiles, the new government has accepted it. The Digital India project that aims to offer a one-stop shop for government services would use the mobile phone as the backbone of its delivery mechanism. The government hopes the Rs 1.13-lakh crore initiative that seeks to transform India into a connected economy to also attract investment in electronics manufacturing, create millions of jobs and support trade. In an interview with ET, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to ensure a smartphone in the hands of every citizen by 2019.
It now appears that a month’s lead amounts to one million customers. While there is no bar against those customers also obtaining Telenor, MPT or Yatanarpon SIMs, one would have to conclude that not all will, giving Ooredoo a distinct advantage. While Ooredoo has focused on second-generation cellular, Telenor’s SIM cards will work with any GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone (2G and 3G). Furberg insisted there would be enough SIM cards to meet demand and their price would remain at 1,500 kyat (Bt49). A voice call should cost no more than 25 kyat per minute, he said.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has published a new report on Using mobile big data for development. Too often basic information on the poor – who is poor, where do they live and move, how do they manage their social and financial lives? – is scarce, while the costs associated with being underknown are significant. Without formal financial histories, creditworthy individuals cannot access loans when needed most, vaccine workers cannot determine what percent of a region they have immunized from a disease, and relief organizations cannot anticipate where people move when catastrophic events occur. Overall, the quality and efficiency of providing services to the poor suffers.
Last month in Yangon, I said to a group of Parliamentarians that I hoped there would be no SIM riots in Myanmar similar to those that occurred when competition was introduced in Bangladesh and Pakistan. A riot is a crude response to a mismatch of supply and demand. Looks like the mismatch exists in Myanmar, but that the people are a lot more sophisticated. They have created a secondary market and are making money from the mismatch. Much better response to toppling tables and breaking glass.

Free Facebook on Ooredoo Myanmar?

Posted on August 2, 2014  /  1 Comments

Myanmar Times carried a long interview with Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Ross Carmack that appears to suggest that Facebook access will be free. Or is it only during the promotional period? The pre-kick off promotional offer is for the price of a SIM, which will be K1500 to you, the customer, for that price between the August 2 and midnight on August 14 you will be able to consume for free 900 minutes of calls from Ooredoo Myanmar to Ooredoo Myanmar customers, 900 SMSs again for free, 90 minutes of calls to other networks, including MPT, for free, 90 SMSs again for free and 20 megs of data for free every day, which when you use it up is the end of it. Except for one thing: it comes with free Facebook. So all you can eat Facebook when you stay on the net in Facebook.
I thought they’d launch on a weekday, but they went two days early and launched August 2nd, Saturday. Better earlier than late. When I was talking about this with the Parliamentarians, I said I hoped the companies would take steps to avoid the “mobile riots,” we had witnessed elsewhere in the region. Perhaps the early launch on a weekend was intended to do just that. Perhaps this is another example of learning from the errors made by others in the past .
A study of mobile use by poor micro entrepreneurs in five cities has revealed surprisingly high levels of smartphone use, indicating fast take-up of mobile applications and services beyond voice when competitive network roll-out gathers momentum in the coming weeks. The results of ethnographic research, interviews and focus groups conducted earlier this year by LIRNEasia, a regional think tank based in Sri Lanka, were released by CEO Helani Galpaya in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon in conjunction with the launch of the Myanmar version of a book summarizing research on mobile conducted in three continents. Of the 124 people interviewed for the study, 57 already owned their own phone while the others used other people’s phones or payphones. Of the 57 owners, 42 (73 percent) owned phones that could be categorized as smartphones, with touch screens and browsers. As recently as in 2011, only 15 percent of 10,000 poor people surveyed by LIRNEasia in six South and South East Asian countries had these features.
I wonder what Carlos Afonso, who was so upset when I said at IGF2009 in Sharm El Sheikh that most people in developing countries would be accessing the Internet over mobile devices, would have to say now? China had 632 million Internet users at the end of June, an increase of 14.4 million since the end of December, according to a semiannual report published on Monday by the official China Internet Network Information Center, which is known as CNNIC. Of those, 83.4 percent reported gaining access to the Internet with mobile phones, exceeding for the first time the 80.
There is a good article the mobile revolution by Nalaka Gunawardene in Sri Lanka’s best business magazine, Echelon. No surprise, he draws extensively on LIRNEasia research ranging from teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid through the work on the budget telecom network business model to our estimates of how many Internet users there are. This is where you would look for the excerpt and the link to the article. But Echelon is a young publication and they need to get their revenue model working. There is a lag between the ad revenue generating print version (out this week) and the possibly cost-causing online version.

Smartphone market at crossroads

Posted on July 14, 2014  /  0 Comments

It appears that the smartphone market may be turning into a commodity market sooner than thought. Samsung’s response to its predicament could shape the entire smartphone market. If Samsung aggressively cuts prices to improve sales, it could pressure other competitors like Nokia, HTC and Motorola Mobility to lower prices, too. That could lead to lower-quality products or even slimmer margins for the smartphone business as a whole. Already, in many recent financial quarters, only Samsung and Apple have made a profit from smartphones.
A fascinating interview with the Chinese financier Zhang Lei by the Financial Times highlights the need to learn about and keep up with China’s ICT industry. Now Zhang is taking the Chinese template offshore. “The Chinese model, which is mobile-driven, is more suited to emerging markets than the US model, which is desktop driven,” he says. “The socio-economic profile is more similar. We can help companies like Tencent go abroad and accelerate the growth of the mobile internet elsewhere and others also can leapfrog.
Interesting that Ooredoo SIMs cannot be used on feature phones, while Telenor is trying to cover that segment as well. “Cheap SIM cards of two foreign telecom companies will attract people. Ooredoo’s SIM cards cannot be used on Java system handsets as their system is 3G Advanced. But the 3G system will be suitable for almost all Android phones. So far, it has yet to impact the mobile handsets market,” said an official from the Mobile Image handset shop.
LIRNEasia research is extensively quoted in this Sunday Times article by Nalaka Gunawardene. The past decade has seen the highest number of telephone connections being given out across South Asia. It happened thanks to what researchers call the ‘budget telecom model’, where low cost technologies coupled with business process innovations helped telecom operators to reduce costs. First, regulatory reforms lowered or removed entry barriers for more operators to enter markets. Then intense competition brought down sign-up and call charges, so phone users started calling more.
Interesting interview with Ooredoo’s Myanmar strategy chief: Flagging up the likes of mobile health and money services, Swierzy told Mobile World Live there was a big opportunity to go beyond the traditional talk and text model. “We think we can get Myanmar using advanced services more quickly than other markets,” he said. Qatar’s Ooredoo, along with Telenor, fought off stiff international competition to win a telecommunications licence in Myanmar. The plan is to make 3G commercially available first in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw – and the corridors that link them – by the end of this (Q3) quarter. Swierzy doesn’t see lack of consumer mobile knowledge as an issue in Myanmar’s main cities.

A better way to define rural

Posted on July 6, 2014  /  3 Comments

Nalaka Gunawardene asks good questions. So I paid attention when he tweeted: Where does urban end & rural begin in #lka? Not silly admin demarcations, but in REAL terms? What decides: Tele-density? Purchasing power?
Ownership matters. That is why we take special precautions when the incumbent telecom operator is owned by the government. There is a tendency for the government to want to look after its creature, even if it means that the “playing field” is tilted against private competitors by the regulator. It’s been a long time since the government of Fiji “privatized” the government department that provided fixed telephony services. But the new owner was not a truly private entity, but the Pension Fund.