Telecom Archives — Page 4 of 5 — LIRNEasia


Many talk about corruption in telecom procurement by government owned telecos. Here are details: According to a police source familiar with the probe, a suitcase containing US$2 million in cash was allegedly found in Thein Tun’s residence. Investigators are trying to establish whether the alleged funds may have originated from foreign firms, including major Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE known to be angling for potentially lucrative telecom contracts in Myanmar, according to the same source. Authorities are also trying to gain access to bank accounts in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore where kickbacks to senior ministry officials may have been deposited, according to the same source. Both Chinese companies have voluntarily given investigating authorities documents related to their previous deals with the MPT ministry, including during Thein Zaw’s tenure as minister, according to the police source.
The government of Myanmar has received 91 expressions of interest for telecom licenses. We were not surprised when the number hit 18, but 91? Now the question, according to Bloomberg, is how to narrow down the field in the next two stages, down to two: Rules for the second stage, where bidders eligible for the third and final stage will be determined, will be provided “in coming weeks,” according to last week’s statement. “Having prior emerging market experience should be beneficial, along with the ability to deploy capital, relationships with the equipment vendors or handset procurement,” Gupta said. “Reforms in the telephony sector are critical for overall development and progress, so they will need to be mindful of security and social issues too.
A death of a scientist is occasion to reflect on the role of behavioral research in the design of telecom devices. It is not so much that Mr. Karlin trained midcentury Americans how to use the telephone. It is, rather, that by studying the psychological capabilities and limitations of ordinary people, he trained the telephone, then a rapidly proliferating but still fairly novel technology, to assume optimal form for use by midcentury Americans. “He was the one who introduced the notion that behavioral sciences could answer some questions about telephone design,” Ed Israelski, an engineer who worked under Mr.
It appears that previously expressed hopes for a good law on telecom emerging from the recesses of Nay Pyi Taw were overly optimistic: Information-technology experts and entrepreneurs have proposed amendments to Myanmar’s telecommunications bill that was made public last month. Khun Oo, president of the Myanmar Computer Federation, said the information and communications technology sector could develop rapidly, but it could also decline because of the new law. Ye Yint Win, president of the Myanmar Computer Professionals Association, said: “According to Section 4 Article 7, every telecommunications services will need a licence. Web-development businesses, e-commerce businesses and individuals who want to sell their applications will also need licences. So [the law] needs to separate and identify the services that need licences and those that do not need licences, as it can harm freedom of creation and small enterprises.

Myanmar telecom reform outlines

Posted on September 10, 2012  /  2 Comments

Having a customer-centric sector seems a good idea. The Ministry seeing its primary function as that of taxing operators a tad problematic. What is a public switchboard telephone network? But this is what is trickling out of Myanmar. “The Department of Posts and Telecommunications will be coordinated by the Ministry of Communications, Posts and Telegraphs, which will tax operators,” U Kyaw Soe said.
WSJ has a piece on big data. “It’s not unlike a microscope—taking something you can’t see and bringing it into the scale of perception,” Aaron Koblin, 30, told me at lunch in Google’s San Francisco office. He’s head of the company’s Data Arts Team. Mr. Koblin’s work sits right on the line between art and information.
In a widely reported speech, the President of Myanmar has announced the government’s intention to permit private investment in telecom: Thein Sein, who took office 15 months ago after the military handed over power to his quasi-civilian government, said there was a need to consider reducing the state role in several key industries, including telecommunications, electricity, energy, forestry, education, health and “financial matters.” “The privatization that is in the second wave of government reforms does not mean we are going to break them up and sell them,” he added. He said the government aimed to triple GDP per capita by fiscal 2015/2016 and there was a need for more foreign help in terms of aid and expertise to boost the economy. “If you observe developing nations, the government’s budget alone is not sufficient to achieve their development goals … that alleviate poverty and require international grants, aid, loans and technical expertise,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that legislative action is required for permitting competition in Myanmar telecom market: Officials have enacted an investment law with guarantees against nationalization and have proposed tax reform. However, these don’t go far enough. The state still controls the most lucrative industries, since a 1989 law restricts private enterprise in oil and gas, mining and telecom. This makes it imperative that the retrograde ITU sponsored draft law be thrown out and a piece of legislation appropriate for the 21st century be adopted.
In most countries that we work in, the restrictions on foreign ownership are minimal. Bangladesh has become an exception in recent times. Bhutan had restrictions but they appear to be on the way out. Foreign investment and the refusal of foreign owned companies to play by the rules of the “club” resulted in the Thai market being transformed. We really do not see the point.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was in Bangkok for the World Economic Forum. One of the questions she was asked was “what sectors she would look to promote first?” The summary of her answer was that the telecom sector is important as the need to have mobile phone for development is real and will look to support advancement in this field. She wants to target what she calls “low-hanging fruits” sectors to create jobs and bring Burmese migrant workers home. There is no doubt that telecom, especially voice and data communication over wireless platforms, is a low hanging fruit.
One hopes that the new law takes into account all the lessons we have learned in telecom reform in Asia in the past few decades. According to Nomura, a new telecom law, which could allow for more licenses (up to 5) and direct or indirect foreign operator participation, is currently in final stages of drafting.The telecom sector in Myanmar is likely to be on the radar for most telcos for incremental investment. Unstable politics and bottlenecks, including: 1) high handset prices ($45-600); 2) SIM registration cost of $150-200; 3) long waiting periods (up to 2 years) and connection hurdles; 4) poor networks and coverage; and 5) lack of competition have hampered growth. The government is now targeting 50 percent wireless penetration by 2015, implying a 50 percent CAGR.
A short piece I wrote on my own time (IDRC is subject to Canadian government restrictions against any expenditures of Canadian funds in/for Myanmar) was just published in English in the Myanmar Times. I am hopeful the Bamar translation will also be published. The text is below: In 2010, I worked on a section of an ITU report about information and communication technologies in the least developed countries (ITU, 2011). Analyzing the countries that were at the bottom of the league tables in telecom, I found to my unhappiness that Burma was one before the last in mobile telephony. Hearing that N Korea was reaching 1 million active connections by end 2011, I checked the data again.
We heard, back in 2005, that the Pakistan Telecom Authority and the Nigerian Communication Commission had calculated how much direct and indirect employment had been created by the telecom industries. Further inquiries revealed that the methods used were suspect and that the studies would not float under rigorous review. The difficulties are exemplified by the prepaid card value chain, where a whole series of resellers are involved in selling value and almost none are engaged solely with mobile. Now the NYT reports an attempt by Apple to quantify its job creation within the US. Apple has made its first attempt to quantify how many American jobs can be credited to the sale of its iPads and other products, a group that includes the Apple engineers who design the devices and the drivers who deliver them — even the people who build the trucks that get them there.
We took the description of this conference, Regional ITS [International Telecom Society] conference, seriously. I served on the program committee. Despite one visa casualty and one last minute cancellation, with five people attending, we had perhaps the largest organizational presence. But it was focused almost entirely on India and India’s many telecom problems. Of all the countries in South Asia, only Sri Lanka was represented.
I’ve written about this earlier, but a more fleshed out argument is in my LBO column. The story was about an award. But what I noticed was the role of telephones in the story. The award winning innovation is not just one new thing; it is a collection of process improvements. Critical elements involve phones as easy ways of contacting mothers on the one hand and health workers on the other.

Ideas to save the postal service

Posted on January 29, 2012  /  0 Comments

For those who believe in bringing the dead back to life: Even better, imagine if you could email a letter to the post office, pay for the stamp online, and never set foot outside of your door? You could send mail digitally, with minimal fuss. People still like receiving letters, if it wasn’t such a pain sending them we might do it more. All of these are simple innovations which barely even amount to innovation at all. They would just bring the post office up to the operating level of a modern teenager.