LIRNEasia’s Senior Research Fellow Payal Malik has fired a major volley in India’s spectrum debate aimed at former Minister Kapil Sibal. There is interesting discussion on her Facebook page. A competitive spectrum auction process facilitates the assigning of licences to the most efficient producers, aiding efficient aggregation of spectrum, and ensures efficient allocation of spectrum into services consumers value the most, thereby expanding the supply and reducing the prices of the wireless services most valued by consumers. Simply put, if tariffs didn’t go up in 2010 after the 3G auctions and in 2014 after the 2G auctions (which raised $14.5 billion and $10 billion, respectively) despite India having the cheapest data packages in any of the emerging economies, they should not go up now.
Payal Malik, Senior Research Follow (India), LIRNEasia will be speaking at the International conference organized by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS, Information Society Unit) on the 20 October 2011. She will be speaking at the “Changing computer services and software R&D landscape” session along with Martin Przewloka, Senior Vice President, SAP Research Internet Applications & Services and Fabien A. P. Petitcolas, Director for Innovation, Europe, Microsoft Europe. The session will be chaired by Jean-Paul Simon of JRC-IPTS, European Commission.
The Telecom Policy and Regulatory Environment survey results have been carried in the Economic Times in India. India’s regulatory regime has been found to be the best for mobile phone tariffs but the 2G spectrum allocation controversy has pulled it down in a recent perception survey of seven nations conducted by telecom regulation and policy study firm Lirneasia. “In India, the regulator does not regulate most of the prices where as in other countries, we surveyed, there are regulatory interventions,” Payal Malik, senior research fellow of Lirneasia told PTI. India scored 3.9 for mobile phone tariffs on scale of 1 to 5.
According the LIRNEasia’s 2011 Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey, stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Indonesia have identified the telecom regulatory environments in their countries as improved since 2008, the last time the survey was carried out. In contrast, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines have seen the regulatory environments decline in effectiveness, while Thailandremains more-or-less the same. The TRE Survey asks senior level stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the telecom regulatory environment in the fixed, mobile and broadband subsectors along a Lickert scale of 1 to 5 (1 being highly ineffective and 5 being highly effective, with the mid-point of 3 being considered average performance). Seven different dimensions of regulation (market entry, tariff regulation, interconnection, universal service, anti-competitive-practices, quality of service) are evaluated by the stakeholders. This year, 349 responded participated in the 7 countries.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, Payal Malik, recently spoke the 2011 WSIS Forum, entitled, ‘Measuring the ICT sector for policy analysis‘ held on the 17th of May in Geneva. The session aimed to provide a brief overview of recent activities of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, including a progress report on e-government indicators. It also looked at the emerging issues to be included in its work agenda to advance ICT measurement. Payal presented her research on ICT Statistics in India for Policy Analysis. This research was carried out by Orbicom, UQAM, Montreal and funded by IDRC.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, Payal Malik, recently made a presentation on “Trends in the ICT industry and ICT R&D in India” at a conference organized by the Information Society Unit of the Institute for Prospective Technological studies (JRC-IPTS, European Commission) in Brussels, Belgium. The conference was titled, “Asian Rise in ICT R&D – Looking for evidence: Debating collaboration strategies, threats and opportunities”. The conference gathered some 60 selected international experts and commission’s staff. Click here to view presentation.
Payal Malik, Senior Research Fellow, will represent LIRNEasia at an upcoming seminar on “Interconnection in Mexico” on 27 October 2010 in Mexico City, Mexico. The seminar is being organized by the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C. (CIDE/Mexico) and the Telecommunications Research program Telecom CIDE. The event brings together a select group of government, academy and civil society representatives.
Spectrum allocation and pricing in Pakistan and India have differed considerably, one following market-based price discovery mechanisms through auctions, and the other, arbitrary pricing. Two articles, one by Mr. Muhammad Aslam Hayat, a regulatory consultant at Grameenphone, Bangladesh, and the other, by Payal Malik, LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, examines the past and present spectrum policy in Pakistan and India, respectively. Hayat writes: Pakistan introduced mobile cellular telephony early, in 1990. Although there was no clear spectrum management policy or roadmap available prior to 2004, the issuance of four mobile cellular licenses and the assignment of spectrum to those licensees were remarkably well thought out.
Payal Malik, LIRNEasia’s Senior Research Fellow resident in India, has written an op-ed analyzing the spectrum mess in India and proposing that it be cleaned up in tandem with license renewals that are coming up. Pakistan used the opportunities afforded by license renewals to clean up some policy mistakes made prior to 2004. We hope to feature a piece by a person involved in that process shortly, in an Indian newspaper and/or here. However, there is one window of possibility of cleaning this pricing conundrum. Very soon, many licences will be coming up for renewal.
___________________________________________________ Mobile 2.0 describes the next wave of applications and services – the use of mobiles for more than voice. On the 26th and 27th of April 2010, LIRNEasia together with the PTA co-hosted a successful expert forum in Islamabad, Pakistan. A multitude of themes were discussed over the four sessions, when the experts presented their research and cases to an audience that consisted of those representing regulators, mobile operators, government agencies and the media from nine countries of the Asia Pacific region. Day 1: Opening Session Welcome Speech I: Prof.
Voice and Data, the leading telecom monthly, has done a good job unpacking the issues within India’s unholy spectrum mess. LIRNEasia’s Payal Malik is one of the participants in the debate. In case licenses are not de-linked, there will be rollout obligations. Some analysts suggest penalties to be enforced, like taking away extra/unused bandwith for spectrum that is not used optimally. According to Kunal Bajaj, MD, BDA Connect, “Open auction will remove all these problems.
Voice and Data has done a story on spectrum hoarding. Among the main sources is Payal Malik, who did the spectrum/licensing study that was part LIRNEasia’s mobile 2.0 work. According to Payal Malik, sr research fellow, LIRNEasia, “It is difficult to verify whether the spectrum is actually being hoarded, but given the way allocation has taken place, I won’t be surprised if it is. In an effort to eliminate competition, the existing players inflate subscriber numbers.
LIRNEasia’s 2005 research on India’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) policy, conducted by Payal Malik and Harsha de Silva, has been cited in a presentation to the US House of Representatives, in March 2009. The paper presented, entitled, “Using Competitive Bidding to Reform the Universal Service High Cost Fund”, can be downloaded here. As a policy-oriented organization, we are indeed pleased that our research is being used to influence policy, not just in emerging Asia but in other regions as well. LIRNEasia’s paper, “Diversifying Network Participation: Study of India’s Universal Service Instruments” can be downloaded here. More on the study can be found here.
An article, co-authored by Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik, has been published in India’s Financial Express. The article discusses findings from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 project. Read the full article here. Just five years ago, the Indian telecom industry=barely included the poor. The country had a teledensity of 7/100 people, but in rural India 100 people were served by only 1.
Proceedings from LIRNEasia’s Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) dissemination event, held on March 6th, 2009, have been published in Voice&Data, India’s leading magazine on the business of communications, and also LIRNEasia’s collaborating partner for the event. Over seventy key experts of the telecom industry participated at the event, with aim of understanding and sharing the key challenges in the Indian policy and regulatory environment and the solutions available. Delivering the keynote address, RN Prabhakar, member, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India explained the challenges faced by a regulator during the course of development. The event saw the release of the TRE survey, jointly presented by Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik. A panel discussion on ‘Challenging Policy and Regulatory Environment,’ was also held.
Since 2005, LIRNEasia has been critical of the very high amount (5%) charged from Indian telecom consumers through the operators and then left unspent in government accounts (approx. USD 4 billion at last count). Our criticisms were presented in multiple forms including a book chapter. We made them known to the leadership of the Department of Telecommunications in face-to-face conversations. Most recently, I discussed the harm caused by taxing poor people to purportedly serve poor people and then keeping the money unspent at a UNCTAD meeting on trade and regulation.