Sri Lanka Archives — Page 20 of 59 — LIRNEasia


In 2011 I analyzed some earnings and employment data and initiated a debate on the health of the Sri Lanka IT and ITES sector. Links to the first and second columns. It appears that new data has come to light (though a source is not given and no reference is made to the sector study by the Export Development Board that I referred to in 2011). “As an industry, we made significant progress over the last five years. Our export revenue grew from $213m in 2007 to an estimated $600m in 2013 (182%).
These are impressive numbers, but they should be made available on TRC or ICTA website as a regular monthly/quarterly report. TRC reports much lower numbers. Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) CEO Reshan Dewapura noted that today, there are close to four million Sri Lankan citizens on the internet, which is a 20% penetration of the population. Over half of them access the internet through either mobile phones or wireless broadband dongles, which has grown eight times more than what it was in 2010. He also estimated that the total data consumption in Sri Lanka via mobile sims both on wireless broadband dongles or mobile phones is currently estimated at 2,000 terabytes per month.

End of the telegram in India

Posted on June 13, 2013  /  0 Comments

In 2011, we wrote about the end of the telegram in Sri Lanka. When telecom and posts were bifurcated in Sri Lanka, telegrams went with posts, somewhat illogically. In India, they went with telecom, so they lasted a little longer. But BSNL’s failure to offer improved service and features while keeping price below costs did the telegram in nevertheless. The telegram or taar, once the bearer of urgent news, good or bad, will disappear once and for all on July 15, outpaced in the age of text messages and emails.
We are not even sure how many have died. But we are sure that too many have died as result of the strong winds that lashed the west coast the past few days. I could write a long essay. But instead, I will link to what we wrote after the mini cyclone of November 2011 off Matara-Weligama that saw the loss of too many lives and the usual calls for investigation and blame. The old post that includes outline of a solution.
For most of its existence the South Asian Telecom Regulators’ Council (SATRC) has been a talk shop, not particularly noted as being on the leading edge of anything. Therefore I was very pleased to see that it is being cited as the pioneer in implementing the APT’s 700 MHz band plan that will provide enough low-frequency spectrum for quick rollout of wireless broadband, an absolute necessity for a region that has very little wires connecting homes (and still not able to justify the costs of FTTH given what people are willing to pay for broadband). The only down note is about Sri Lanka (which prides itself as the first to introduce new technology in the region) keeping out of the South Asian consensus along with Iran. This is perhaps because the government handed out the 700 band frequencies to a large number of private TV broadcasters for nothing (for Treasury) over the past few years and is thus constrained. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report (November 2012), LTE networks are expected to cover 60% of the population in Asia Pacific by 2017, up from an estimated 1.
Several Sinhala newspapers and webpapers have reported that the government will henceforth give priority to delivering e gov services over mobile interfaces. I assume the English media will pick up this story in due course. This is good news for a country where mobiles are ubiquitous, but conventional desktop computer use is not. We at LIRNEasia have been hammering home the message that mobile must be given priority based on our Teleuse@BOP survey research since 2005. Specifically, this was a key message in the 2011 and 2012 Future Gov conferences in Colombo.
When LIRNEasia people were on the field interviewing BOP teleusers in Indonesia in 2011, we saw the proliferation of cheap smartphones. It appears from this report that this trend is moving to Sri Lanka as well. But the company says they will offer smart phones for as little as 15,000 rupees to close in the market gap of feature phone in the island. “We will offer smart phones at low prices to the masses to close the market gap of feature phones” Kalpa Perera, Samsung’s manger, mobile business in Sri Lanka said. Last year the phone company had sold half a million handsets of all types in Sri Lanka.
At LIRNEasia we study and teach about regulation. In March-April we spent some effort seeking to contribute to what we saw as an effort to remedy some long-standing political failures through transparent, consultative processes set in motion by Sri Lanka’s Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL). Our recommendations were not accepted, but we still hope the remedy will itself survive political failure. In the aftermath of the protests and the President’s overruling of the PUCSL, several observers have suggested that the PUCSL is a redundant entity that should be wound up. I agree that it failed in this instance and that it has done grievous harm to itself and to the essential process of moving toward cost-reflective tariffs.
I recall a Sinhala poem from my time at Peradeniya University. It asked who had actually built Sigiriya and the great irrigation works: The kings who routinely get the credit or the unnamed many who did the actual building? The telecom reforms in Sri Lanka are now seen as an unqualified success. The reforms did not just happen. Courageous decision making was needed.
Today, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, held the oral-presentation component of the 2013 tariff hearing. In their effort to accommodate 70 or so persons/organizations among the 200+ that had made written submissions, they limited speaking time to 5-10 mts depending on how many issues had been covered and did not ask any questions of those making presentations. This was a pity, since the whole point of face-to-face interaction is interactivity. That said, I still found the exercise educative. For example, the spokesperson for one organization asked why the PUCSL had allowed a component of costs for ROE, return on equity.
ABSTRACT This paper investigates the factors that influence formalization of poor micro-enterprises (MEs) in urban locations in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The paper draws from a multi-country survey of information and communication needs of poor MEs in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in the second quarter of 2013. Through logistic regression, it models business registration among such MEs to understand what affects the decision to formalize within these environments. The paper also looks at the barriers to registration and the policy implications from these findings. Using descriptive statistics and models we find that the MEs lack of formalization is explained to a significant level by their level of education, gender, size of the enterprise and awareness levels.
LIRNEasia’s current cycle of research focuses on how mobile platforms can help improve customer relationship management in utilities. I have been contributing to the current debate on rationalizing the electricity tariffs in Sri Lanka based on the work Partha Mukhopadhyay and I did in relation to the recently concluded SAFIR core course and laying the foundation for disseminating the results of the research project when completed. Many of my interventions have been over electronic media, but here is a summary piece in LBO that is also being published in Sinhala in Ravaya next week. Tariff design must contribute to bring down peak demand by around five percent. This is a policy objective pursued in many countries, especially in light of climate-change concerns.
I should not have been surprised, but I was. In the course of the Asia Pacific Summit session that I was moderating the Chief Strategy Officer of Indosat, Prashant Gokarn, said that they are no longer keeping 30% of earnings from apps, but giving pretty much everything to the developers. We can make our money on data, he said. I asked, is this just you? Supun Weerasinghe, Chief Stategy Officer at Axiata, said, no.
There is so much wrong with the IDI. It gives a higher ICT development rank to Cuba (106) and Zimbabwe (115) well ahead of India (119). I ridiculed the predecessor of the IDI in the past, but they keep churning it out unfazed and people keep paying attention, which then causes me to pay attention too. There was even a fuss in the Bangladesh media about how that esteemed country managed to get itself excluded from IDI coverage in 2012. Few months back I promised to analyze the S Asian IDI rankings in more detail, so here goes.
Bangladesh has raised its broadband bar from 128 Kbps to 1 Mbps, said a press report. Time will answer if it’s a political statement or an official roadmap. But the government’s prejudice on technology is alarming. The whole country should be connected through optical fibre cable. We want to provide broadband to all corners of the country, and it is very much possible.