The first part of the Quartz article is the usual complaint about Whatsapp getting a free ride. While they may be eating into the messaging and voice revenues of mobile networks, OTTs like Whatsapp aren’t completely bad for business. They can help fuel data consumption—a growing revenue stream for network operators if exploited well. South Africa’s third largest network, with 19.6 million subscribers by the end of 2014, saw an opportunity a year ago by zero-rating Whatsapp on its network for close to a year.
Only 23 years? It’s now in decline, but the idea of sending short text messages will live for ever. Matti Makkonen, the reluctant “father of SMS”, has died at the age of 63. Makkonen pitched the original idea for SMS in 1984, while working as a civil servant, over a pizza at a telecoms conference in Copenhagen. His work is widely regarded as being critical to its success, though Makkonen did not receive any money from the invention, because he did not apply for a patent.
It was not the best time to disseminate research results in New Delhi, with the news media preoccupied with the accession of power by the new government. But, as Helani Galpaya said in her introductory comments at the media event, one has to get back to governance at some point. The first news report that resulted highlights the potential of using the ubiquitous mobile phones to improve communication between electricity discoms and their customers. The headline referred to the value of transferring lessons from mobile to electricity, for example by offering prepaid service to those who could not meet the current criteria for connections. The body is meeting state-level energy regulators from Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra to discuss the findings of the survey, which covered 1,279 people in India (Delhi and Patna).
How can the ubiquitous mobile phone improve the lives of the poor? How can the phone become more like the “Aladdin’s Lamp” that Muhammed Yunus talks about, something that can offer any service its owner wants? If the phone is to be about more than just talk, we have to put some effort into adding to the services offered over it. The 2012-14 LIRNEasia research program funded by IDRC focuses on these questions. One thing we discovered in our research was that people need to manage the inevitable power outages.
Apps have attacked the lucrative harvest of voice with the tenacity of hungry locusts. Now they have targeted the farmhouse of messaging. And the device makers have joined the feast with independent messaging outfits. The revenue from messaging services fell by almost 4% in 2013 to just below US$104 billion. It predicts that the decline in messaging revenue will be more pronounced in North America and Western Europe where the greatest penetration of smartphones and data users has been prevalent.
After some time, we at LIRNEasia are beginning to engage again with e gov, which I like to say is an acronym for effective government. So I came across this new service provided by the government of Saudi Arabia where male guardians are sent an SMS by the govt when their wives leave the country. Earlier, it had been necessary for permanently dependent females (i.e., all females) to carry with them a “yellow clip” wherein the guardian had consented to their departure.
We knew of the use of mobiles to check the authenticity of drugs in Africa, but this is the first we heard of it being used in India. Before buying a Sproxil-verified medication, the consumer scratches off the label to reveal a unique code, then texts it to a free number. Seconds later, a response comes back from Sproxil’s computer servers. If the text message is an approval, the medication is real and the customer buys it. If not, she can report the fake.
The train displaced the canal barge. The airplane displaced the train as a means of long-distance travel. Such is the way of the world. Now the telegram has gone the way of the canal. Who would have thought that government could function without telegrams?
The Sri Lankan procedures for paying traffic fines are so annoying and time-consuming that they drive offenders to pay bribes instead. Now it appears that a bank and a mobile operator are trying to solve the problem. All strength to their elbows. A leading bank and a mobile company would introduce a technology when one was charged with traffic law violation could pay the fine through his/her mobile phone, sources said. Informed sources told Daily Mirror that any one charged with a traffic law violation could SMS the bank asking it to credit the amount specified as the fine to the post office account from his account.
One of the things I always have to pause and explain when talking about our Teleuse@BOP work is why 100% of Filipinos at the BOP use SMS and some never use the mobiles to make a call. Now we find the Americans are beginning to emulate the Pinoys. Liza Colburn uses her cellphone constantly. She taps out her grocery lists, records voice memos, listens to music at the gym, tracks her caloric intake and posts frequent updates to her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The one thing she doesn’t use her cellphone for?
Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka loves SMS. In the pre-election period it requested operators to accommodate a ‘New Year Greeting’ from the President, who apparently was a candidate. Now it warns the users about a false spam SMS. If you have received it don’t worry. Calls from those numbers do not harm your brain or kill you, assures Director General of the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Pelpita.
The colloquium was conducted by Harsha de Silva, PhD. Harsha began by explaining that the paper focus both on trains and buses, but in this colloquium will focus on the Bus transport. 75% of passenger transport is via public transport and of that 93% by bus and 7% by train. Roughly 5500 SLCTB and 18000 private buses. The fare is regulated by National Transport Commission (NTC).
Early warning does not happen every day. So when hazards occur, it is important that the experience is analyzed so that future responses can be enhanced. Here is a report on how warnings worked (or did not) on the Pacific Coast of Australia in relation to the tsunami generated by the Chilean earthquake of Saturday. It is a pity that the potential of cell broadcasting that can be targeted to low-lying areas that are in danger, without knowing any of the numbers of the mobile phones belonging to the people physically present and without congestion. The Gold Coast authorities used SMS for 10,000 people.
The world’s fastest txters are South Koreans, followed by US and Argentina. What does this mean for the Philippines status as SMS Capital of the World? The inaugural Mobile World Cup, hosted by the South Korean cellphone maker LG Electronics, brought together two-person teams from 13 countries who had clinched their national titles by beating a total of six million contestants. Marching behind their national flags, they gathered in New York on Jan. 14 for what was billed as an international clash of dexterous digits.
LIRNEasia’s focus is infrastructure, so we don’t write much about censorship and such, except when it becomes unavoidable. There are plenty of entities that have censorship as the primary focus, but few who deal with our specialization. Yet, we are increasingly being dragged into this area, as when our book on ICT infrastructure was detained in the Sri Lanka Customs under some unstated provision, when SMS was shut down on Independence Day and so on. In the midst of the controversy about Google threatening to withdraw from China because of their approach to censorship, it was mentioned in the NYT that some Chinese twitters saw it as a withdrawal from the world by China, not as a withdrawal of Google from China: China promptly tried to censor the ensuing debate about its censorship, but many Chinese Twitter users went out of their way to praise Google. One from Guangdong declared: “It’s not Google that’s withdrawing from China, it’s China that’s withdrawing from the world.
The stream of blog posts started with a single SMS – apparently by the President of the country to every mobile user. It was initially thought a commercially paid advertisement aimed at the forthcoming Presidential Election but the operators confirmed it is a favour requested by the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. Does this violate the election laws of the country? Was that an unsolicited entry to mobile users’ personal spaces? LIRNEasia with groundviews and W3Lanka blew the whistle first now it is the turn of the mass media.