Sri Lanka Archives — Page 30 of 57 — LIRNEasia


The Sunday Leader (Sri Lanka) had the story excerpted below tucked away in the business pages. It contains several lessons for public policy that will be discussed below. They include the importance of interrogating data to make sure that your conclusions make sense and of course the ever present problem of incentives. Some 1.2 million cellular phones were imported illegally into the country last year, causing a loss in government revenue, the B.

Lessons of 2004 tsunami used in Samoa

Posted on October 3, 2009  /  2 Comments

A report on the response to the tsunami that hit Samoa shows that preparedness and evacuation planning saved lives even though they had barely eight minutes after the warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have enough distance from the unstable Sunda Trench and therefore are likely to have more time to organize evacuations. For Indonesia and Thailand, unfortunately, the time will be less. The Pacific islands were so close to the epicentre of the earthquake that a wall of water hit Samoa within eight minutes after the Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii sent its first bulletin Tuesday. Several Samoans said they heard no sirens or warnings, but fled as soon as they were woken up by the earthquake.

Verizon gives up on voice over copper

Posted on September 18, 2009  /  0 Comments

India’s MTNL and BSNL have been losing fixed subscriptions for years; Sri Lanka joined the club recently. Now we see the heirs to AT&T throwing in the towel. I guess it was like this when the railways replaced the canals. How long will it take for policy makers in emerging Asia to see where the wind is blowing? Roll over in your grave, Alexander Graham Bell.
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia Chair and CEO, made the lead presentation on access to ICTs at an OECD/infoDev Workshop on the Internet Economy yesterday in Paris. The workshop, “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” is currently underway. In his presentation, Dr Samarajiva described the new “Budget Telecom Network Model” developed in South Asia that is enabling mobile operators to serve low-income customers who yield very low ARPUs [Average Revenues per User] and discuss its extension to enable broadband use.  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have offered the lowest total costs of mobile ownership since 2005-06 while still yielding adequate, though somewhat volatile, returns to ensure continued investment in network extension and new services.  LIRNEasia research shows that this has been made possible by business process innovations to reduce operating expenses, and the minimizing of transaction costs made possible by widespread prepaid use.
We wrote a few weeks back that fixed-mobile substitution that was decreasing fixed subscriptions in India and Pakistan had arrived in Sri Lanka. Instead of waiting for more fixed phones to be disconnected, Sri Lanka Telecom is taking proactive steps to keep its customers. Shows that competition delivers what court cases and regulation cannot. Sri Lanka Telecom, the island’s dominant fixed line operator, said it was offering lower rates and discounts in new subscriber packages amid intensifying competition among phone companies. In its new post-paid tariff plans called ‘V talk’, call rates to fixed and mobile phones have been reduced up to 35 percent and monthly rental reduced up to 48 percent, the company said in a statement.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) once the political ally to ruling Peoples’ Alliance of Sri Lanka, has come up with an innovative idea to link 300,000 plus Internally Displaced Persons with their relatives. Why not create Face Book accounts? Daily Mirror story does not say so, but perhaps JVP wants it done by the government. Rohan Samarajiva made a less complex and more effective suggestion: Why not give them mobile phones? ‘The technology that allows freedom to talk even without the freedom to walk is the phone.

Parental-control phones

Posted on August 27, 2009  /  0 Comments

In the context of the debates about banning mobiles for school children, the issue of phones that constrain use has become relevant. The NYT has done a full survey of the options available to parents in the US, an excerpt of which is given below. Why doesn’t someone do a similar survey for India, Sri Lanka, etc.? Now for some real cellphones.
It was gratifying to see McKinsey picking up on the work that PIPU did in 2002-04 and praising the TRCSL in the regulatory chapter in GITR 2009. There is a lot more refarming to be done TRC; keep up the good work. The move toward a more technology- and service-neutral spectrum policy was mainly triggered by a desire to treat all providers equitably, the urging of mobile providers to shift to GSM technology, and the need to use CDMA as a low-cost solution for fixed wireless access in rural areas. Although the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) was constrained to some extent by existing allocations and defense considerations, it issued more spectrum space. The regulator also recognized the problem of scattering spectrum and attempted to streamline allocations while it cleared capacity in the 1800–1900 megahertz range.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (covering 134 countries in 2008-09), only Sri Lanka has gained any ground among the South Asian countries. India is the first within the region, ranked 54th (down from 50th in 2007-08). Sri Lanka has made considerable progress from 79th place in 2007-08 to 70th place in a straight comparison (72nd among the 2008-09 countries). Congratulations to the industry, ICTA and all who contributed to this gain. Pakistan has slipped to 95th in a straight comparison from its 89th position in 2007-08.
TVEAP (on behalf of LIRNEasia) videoed a series of interviews with teleusers to explore their usage patterns at the BOP. Below is an interview with eighteen-year-old Chamara Pahalawattage, a Sri Lankan school leaver, who does not have a steady job but that  hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for mobile phones he now uses his sixth phone in two years. This resident of Gonapola, western Sri Lanka, finds odd jobs at construction sites thanks to his phone. And after a hard day’s work, he unwinds listening to the radio, or swapping phone songs with friends. Click here to view other videos.
The Sunday Times (English) and Ravaya (Sinhala) carried the results of the migrant component of the teleuse research, making direct reference to the need to set the rules in place, a topic that was addressed in a previous issue of the Times by M. Aslam Hayat. “The challenge for mobile operators is to make a remittance service as simple as handing over the money and a slip, with hand-written transfer details, to a bank clerk,” said the study. On average, a Sri Lankan migrant sends home US $ 137 per month. The most common method of remittance is through the banking system.
Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, which, now also regulates pornographic content, today created telecom regulatory history by appointing perhaps the world’s first Pornographic Monitoring Committee. While congratulating the newly appointed Chairman and his proud family (“Amma, you are never going to believe this! Hubby is now getting paid for watching nude girls”) we, in our own humble manner like to suggest a mission statement. (above) Reports Daily Mirror Online: The Sri Lanka Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has appointed a monitoring committee to be on the alert for pornographic websites in the island. The TRC had said that telephone and internet services companies have agreed to be constantly on the alert for pornographic websites and to control access to them in the island, with twelve such websites already having been banned.
This was not a representative sample survey like Teleuse @ BOP, but still it was conducted in a remote village in the Polonnaruwa district in Sri Lanka as part of a community communication effort. The numbers they came up with were much higher than ours. We also spoke about the advantages of using mobile phones to complement the radio productions. 3G was not present in all areas, and in any case, few of the handsets supported audio streaming. That said, the production team said that upwards of 95% of all households owned at least one mobile.
Both India and Pakistan had negative growth in fixed wireline 2003-2008: -3.5 for India and -0.4 for Pakistan.   Sri Lanka has too, but this is masked by the rapid growth of CDMA, which in this country is called fixed.
Priyantha Kariyapperuma, Director General of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, is in ‘banning’ mode these days. Having ‘banned’ twelve sex sites on the initiation of IGP, now he plans to ban the mobile phones at private schools. For government schools, Susil Premajayantha, Education Minister has taken a similar move. Minister Premajayantha said that he has taken this decision to avoid the harmful situations that had led to a ‘number of unfortunate incidents’ in schools recently. The incident that triggered this move was the suicide of a fourteen year old girl of a leading school in Colombo, whose mobile phone, with personal information, has been confiscated by the prefects.
Rohan Samarajiva made a presentation entitled, “Improving transport and transportation policy: lessons from telecom” at the recently concluded  Seminar on the Draft National Transport Policy of the Ministry of Transport. Held on 23rd of July, the seminar was organized by the Pathfinder Foundation in collaboration with The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Drawing on the similarities between the telecom and transport sector, including opportunities for private sector participation and availability of new technologies for market structure transformation in both sectors, he stated that while telecom sector has flourished under market reforms, the transport sector may, in fact, have worsened. As cited in The Island and Lanka Business Online,  Rohan argued that “the draft policy appeared to perpetuate existing inefficiencies, poor service and waste of public funds”,  as well as that “the national transport policy does not allow for adequate private participation, and where there was, such as in bus services, regulation was lacking”. Click here to download slides.