“When a business model, rather than direct government action, is delivering the goods the most appropriate government action is that which supports the business model. Policy and regulatory actions must be derived more from analysis of the requirements of the business model and less from public administration theory.” How it applies to Internet and broadband is what Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO, LIRNEasia explained in his keynote speech at the workshop ‘Expanding access to the Internet and broadband for development’ on November 16, 2009, at the Internet Governance forum 2009. His presentation entitled, ‘How the developing world may participate in the global Internet Economy: Innovation driven by competition’, can be downloaded here. The session was chaired by Dimitri Ypsilanti, Head of Information, Communication and Consumer Policy Division, OECD.
As the media dissemination phase of the teleuse@BOP 3 study draws to a close, we were pleased to see the qualitative results showcased in a long article in the Times of India, perhaps one of the most prestigious among the high-quality media of India. Rural and low-income consumer segments are attracting immense interest as they are expected to contribute to the next wave of growth in India, particularly for telecom products and services. Many industry experts believe that the next billion telecom subscribers will come from the BOP. Telecom adoption at the BOP highlights the role of telecom in enhancing household income and transforming personal identity by increasing accessibility and hence, credibility. Telecom adoption is also seen to impact their social and professional network coordination by strengthening family ties and increasing business coordination by overcoming challenges posed by location and context.
Is broadband quality a subject of interest only to urban top-of-the ladder users? Not necessarily. With the latest developments in telecom services broadband access is increasingly becoming a reality to rural populations as well, even in developing countries. The penetration levels might not be the same but should that mean quality should be compromised for rural users? Broadband quality is critical for telecenters where a link is usually shared.
When the economy goes rock bottom, it makes little sense asking what it would mean to one component. But what exactly the impact of the present financial crisis on telecoms? This is what Spencer E. Ante thinks: The $1 trillion telecommunications industry has long been one of the most resilient parts of the economy. But as the financial crisis has intensified, it has recently become clear that telecom can’t escape the fallout of the credit crunch.
I had the opportunity of chairing a panel of seven persons from various parts of Asia at the Forum at ITU Telecom Asia 2008 in Bangkok. After we got around the inane title of Manga for the masses, we had a decent discussion, focussing on the aspects of connecting the unconnected, assuring adequate quality to the connected, and content. My overview slides setting the frame are here. Contrary to expectation, the Chairman of the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission, representing perhaps one of the least connected of the countries of Asia, talked about using universal service funds to develop content. Several people referred to the counter-productive nature of universal service taxes, wherein poor people were being taxed to provide services to poor people, yet those taxes were not being utilized, wisely or otherwise.
The government promised a broad-ranging environmental levy in the last budget speech. Some sensible people inside government appear to have defanged what could have been a very nasty piece of legislation. The Bill that is scheduled to be debated in Parliament on the 19th of March makes provision for the levy to collected by telecom operators and paid to the Telecom Regulatory Commission and then to the Environmental Conservation Levy account of the Consolidated Fund. The other levy collector is the customs. The removal of the complex collection procedure mentioned in the Budget Speech is definitely an improvement.
LIRNEasia researchers will participate at the International Communication Association conference in Montreal, Canada, May 21-26, 2008. Rohan Samarajiva will present a paper based on LIRNEasia‘s study on the gendered aspects of telecommunications use in emerging Asia, entitled, ‘Who’s Got the Phone? The Gendered Use of Telephones at the Bottom of the Pyramid‘. Abstract: ‘Much has been said about women’s access to and use of the telephone. Many studies conclude that a significant gender divide in access exists particularly in developing countries.
Click on the links to see the full articles covering LIRNEasia’s book, ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks. ‘BSNL’s monopoly over infrastructure a hindrance to growth’ – Financial Express (India) Rural connectivity is now the focus of every telecommunication player in the country. Almost all stakeholders, from handset manufacturers to service providers, believe that the next wave of growth is in the rural areas.”However, India’s roll out (of telecom services) in rural areas has been slow. BSNL has the backbone infrastructure but is not yet ready to share it with private players,” he added.
by Harsha de Silva & Ayesha Zainudeen In Does inequality matter? Exploring the links between poverty and inequality (p. 135-167), Edited by Prashan Thalayasingam & Kannan Arunasalam. Published by CEPA, Colombo, 2007 Pre-publication version available for download. The paper was presented at the Centre for Poverty Analysis Annual Symposium on Poverty Research in Sri Lanka (6-7 December 2007, Colombo) Introduction: Much has been said of the benefits of access to telecommunication especially at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’.
LIRNEasia research on Telecom Regulatory Environment (where India gets the lowest scores on the USO dimension) shows that Indian USO policy and implementation are flawed. LIRNEasia research on teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid shows clearly that lowering connection charges and keeping the use charges low are critically important in connecting the next billion. The policy recommendation that flows from this, made at meeting of regulators in New Delhi on the 15th of July, is that the USO levy should be phased out and the existing funds be disbursed as quickly as possible. But it appears that the Department of Telecommunications and the new Minister think otherwise: The Hindu Business Line : Raja rejects telecom industry plea to cut USO levy Operators had said that since the USO fund has over Rs 10,000 crore lying unused, the Government should consider lowering the contribution made by the telecom firms. “We realise that USO is an important tool to enable telecom services in rural areas.
Sonal Desai | CXOToday.com Mumbai, Mar 27, 2007: Mobile penetration will penetrate the homes of bottom or pyramid (BOP) families in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a study instituted by LIRNEasia has found. Titled, “Teleuse on a Shoestring- A Study of the Financially Constrained in Asia,” it interviewed and maintained diaries of respondents from Thailand and Philippines besides the above mentioned countries. A C Nielsen conducted the fieldwork. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada funded the research.
By Rohan Samarajiva LBO >> Choices : Priceless Link 08 March 2007 08:26:29 http://www.lbo.lk/fullstory.php?newsID=2020236857&no_view=1&SEARCH_TERM=24 March 08 (LBO) – Indonesia, like Sri Lanka, sends its women to foreign lands to work as housemaids.
The following news item talks about SLTL’s plans to give 100,000 ADSL connections (more than the total number of main lines in 1990!). This is good news indeed. But it would be even better news if the network were to be properly dimensioned so that customers could get the speeds they pay for. :: Daily Mirror – FINANCIAL TIMES :: SLT is also shifting its focus to non-voice data services and delivering broadband technologies.
As a part of LIRNEasia’s Telecom Use on a Shoestring project, the use of ‘strategic’ behaviour to curb communication costs amongst the financially constrained in Sri Lanka and India was explored. The findings relating to such ‘strategic’ behavior are available for comment in the following paper: Telecom use on a shoestring: Strategic use of telecom services by the financially constrained in South Asia (V2.0 for comment) (February 2006) Telecom use on a shoestring: Strategic use of telecom services by the financially constrained in South Asia (V2.1 for comment, March 2006) The Authors invite comments and discussion. Abstract: When one talks of a ‘shoestring’ budget, it is understood that reference is being made to constrained finances, where individuals make attempts to cut costs through various methods without harming utility.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 December 2005: Men and women in Sri Lanka and India engage in similar levels of telephone use in low-income settings, according to a recent study carried out by LIRNEasia. A study conducted by LIRNEasia, an Asian research organization based in Colombo, explores the use of telecom services amongst people whose incomes are less than approximately USD 100 per month in Sri Lanka and India. The study provides evidence that there are few significant differences between men and women in the use of fixed, mobile or public phones at these income levels. These results challenge the findings of several prior and well-established studies……..
Colombo, Sri Lanka, 19 December 2005: A recent study has shown that fifty-eight per cent of low-income telephone users are absent from conventional telecom indicators. The study also shows that they are spending more of their monthly incomes than expected on telecom services. The study supports C.K. Prahalad’s claim that there is a fortune to be made at the ‘bottom of the pyramid,’ not only at the top.