SMS Archives — Page 3 of 5


Mobiles and media freedoms

Posted on October 22, 2008  /  3 Comments

In 1998, the principal journalist organizations of Sri Lanka agreed on the Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility. That served as a roadmap for some interesting and innovative reforms including the creation of a self-regulatory mechanism for print media in 2003. Of course, the reforms were not completed. In the hope of revising the text and energizing the reform effort, the Sri Lanka Press Institute organized a workshop, at which I was asked to speak. In light of the 15 minutes I was assigned, I decided to focus on SMS and cell broadcasting within the larger context of mobiles, a subject we are deeply interested in, rather try to cover the waterfront.
Last month at the GSM Asia Pacific conference in Colombo, LIRNEasia’s Helani Galpaya presented some evidence on the way roaming charges have evolved in the region. She showed that overall South Asia’s roaming charges were higher than those in South East Asia and that South Asian operators also seemed to discriminate among visitors from different countries more. This research has, finally, been picked up and publicized, along with a statement from Rohan Samarajiva that bringing down intra-SAARC international voice telephone charges is a higher priority. This same statement was made at a SAARC Chamber of Commerce seminar, where LIRNEasia offered to provide the data to the national Chambers of Commerce so that they could increase the transparency of the roaming market, one of the most opaque. Knowing full well the weaknesses of regulation and the higher-priority tasks before the region’s regulatory agencies, LIRNEasia takes the position that the region’s operators should work together to come up with a reasonable regime for international roaming that allows customers to know what they are getting into when they make or receive a call/SMS while away from their countries.
The number of voice calls being made has remained steady over the past two years, but text messages sent and received have increased by a staggering 450 percent. At the end of 2007, text messaging had just overtaken voice calls 218 to 213. But by the end of the second quarter of this year, an average mobile phone subscriber placed or received 204 calls, compared with sending or receiving 357 text messages. Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 now send or receive 1,742 messages per month, compared to the second-highest age group, 18 to 24 year olds, who send and receive about 790 messages. Read the story in Wired News or New York Times.
The war against porn continues – at full throttle. We are just twelve kilo meters away from porn-free net. Stay tuned. You may hear the good news anytime. Meanwhile ‘National Child Protection Authority of Sri Lanka’, which claims keeping an eye on your child even when you are sleeping, wants to keep an eye on your mobile too.

Benefits of telecom at the BOP?

Posted on May 26, 2008  /  1 Comments

LIRNEasia’s Lead Economist presented the findings on the percieved benefits of telecom access at the bottom of the pyramid at ‘The Global and Globalizing Dimensions of Mobile Communication: Developing or Developed‘ a pre-conference program at the ICA 2008 conference in Montreal on 20-21 May 2008. The paper presented, ‘Perceived economic benefits of telecom access at the Bottom of the Pyramid in emerging Asia‘ takes a look at what BOP phone owners gain from telecom access from their own perspective. One of the most interesting findings here, is that although they see efficiency gains stemming from phone access/use, they don’t relate these to economic gains. This is puzzling, because we know from macro-level studies that a positive relationship exists between phone penetration and national income; additionally, theory suggests that for example saving time or a physical trip to convey a message or obtain information, can translate to economic savings. However, there seems to be some kind of ‘disconnect’ in BOP perceptions of the value of a phone.
After two decades of mobile voice services through mobile phones, and nearly a decade of mobile data usage through SMS services, mobile data services (MDS) of a more traditional Internet style is finally on the up in a big way. The m.Net and University of Adelaide study notes that: “It has taken a while, but mobile data services (MDS) use is now disseminating beyond a small number of high level users to the wider market, according to the Wireless data services study 2007.” The study is done on an annual, international basis, and “investigates mobile phone user engagement beyond voice and looks at the current type and levels of MDS, the influencing factors and barriers to the use of MDS, and the use of MDS across global markets.” Read the full story here.
Mobile Benchmark Studies in South Asia and Latin America | L I R N E . N E T DIRSI’s study on mobile price and affordability also adapts the OECD price baskets to compare the monthly costs of using mobiles in six Latin American countries. The Latin American baskets take into consideration call and SMS volumes and usage data as specified in the OECD methodology,[5] but excludes initial connection charges. The DIRSI study also does not report data on postpaid or indicate whether different MoUs have been applied to prepaid and postpaid. Despite differences in methodology, it is interesting to note the rather large differences in the monthly costs between users in South Asia and Latin America; even though the former takes into account a broader set of costs.
According to LIRNEasia’s latest comparative study of price and affordability indicators in eight South Asian countries, Bangladesh emerges as having the lowest average monthly cost of using a mobile at all levels of use (low, medium and high) for different tariff plans (prepaid and postpaid). Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka follow closely, while Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan are seen to have significantly higher average monthly mobile costs. The study compares mobile tariffs in South Asia using price baskets, derived from those used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The baskets are calculated for low, medium and high users for pre- as well as postpaid tariff plans, factoring in usage charges (voice and SMS), line rental, connection charges (depreciated over a three year period), and applicable taxes. For more information on results and methodology, please click HERE.

Blocking SMS when it is needed most

Posted on February 11, 2008  /  7 Comments

Many of us have our own stories how SMS helped in an emergency. Here is mine. I was at the National Book Exhibition at BMICH on September 12, 2007 evening when a tsunami alert was broadcast.  It created instant chaos. I did not have access to a TV or a radio.
It is well known that China polices the Internet content that its citizens can access. The story below talks about a growing movement within China that seeks to challenge these arbitrary restrictions on simple information retrieval and publishing actions. A 17-year old girl’s comment “I don’t know if it’s better to speak out or keep silent, but if everyone keeps silent, the truth will be buried,” seems particularly powerful to me and motivated me to write this post. Several months ago, the government of Sri Lanka blocked access to Tamil Net, a website used by many, including almost all the important journalists, to find out the other side of our one-sided news stories on the war. Of course, this was easily circumvented by those who wanted to.

Tweet: SMS speak

Posted on February 1, 2008  /  0 Comments

Campaign tools | A-twitter | Economist.com Twitter imposes a 140-character-limit on all tweets. The choice is technical, not aesthetic; most mobile-service providers won’t carry text messages longer than 160 characters. This limit, as with any restricted poetic form, is a strength. Foreign correspondents in the first half of the 20th century learned to write in cablese, a series of abbreviations demanded by news organisations that had to pay by the word.
Telecom Cook Islands Ltd, the sole provider of telecommunications in the Cook Islands, has completed commercial deployment of ADC’s UltraWave GSM softswitch. Telecom Cook Islands, which has been in operation since July 1991, is a private company owned by Telecom New Zealand Ltd. (60%) and the Cook Islands Government (40%). The new softswitch – which upgrades Telecom Cook’s core wireless network to more efficient, IP-based technology in order to reduce costs and enable value-added services such as integrated SMS, voicemail, GPRS and pre-paid calling, has been in deployment since September 2007, and the final network cutover was accomplished last week. The UltraWave solution includes an overall expansion of the network’s capacity to 15,000 from 8,000 GSM subscribers.
Greeting people by text message (SMS) has become a general behavior. Cellular mobile networks are tolerant to processing such messages on birthdays, weddings and other personal events of their customers. But the networks get chocked when gigantic wave of messages hit the airwaves. New Year is one such event when the mobile phone networks continue processing billions of messages for quite a while. But all networks are not necessarily capable of handing the traffic of text even in the developed economies.
Consumers across Asia are the most prolific users of mobile messaging and are forecast to further drive message volume in 2008, a research firm said on Thursday. Nearly 1.5 trillion mobile messages were sent in the Asia-Pacific region over the past 12 months, accounting for 78.9 per cent of all SMS traffic globally last year, said a Gartner’s report. Nearly 2.

P2P content under emergency in Pakistan

Posted on November 15, 2007  /  0 Comments

Although some of the major news agencies were reporting that SMS and cell phone coverage had been jammed, it was only partially true with parts of Islamabad being taken off at times. However, given some of the activists’ experience with disaster relief communications, many groups knew that SMS couldn’t be censored (Pakistan’s Telecoms Authority generally use cheap mobile jamming devices which had proven ineffective in the past). Added to the fears that the internet may be taken offline in the weeks ahead (this hasn’t happened in Pakistan yet) and the growing concerns over the clampdown of independent media in Pakistan, a coalition . . .
Paper titled: Challenges of Optimizing Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) for SMS based GSM Devices in Last-Mile Hazard Warnings in Sri Lanka (authors N. Waidyanatha – LIRNEasia, D. Dias – University of Moratuwa, and H. Purasinghe – Microimage) was presented at the 19th Meeting of the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF), in Chennai, India, 5-7 November, 2007. The paper was discussed in Working Group 1 – Human Perspective and Service Concepts (WG1).