CHAKULA is a newsletter produced by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Named after the Swahili word for ‘food’, it aims to mobilise African civil society around ICT policy for sustainable development and social justice issues. The latest issue features an e-interview with LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, but it is not the only reason why we thought of highlighting the issue. The content is interesting and very readable. We publish two e-interviews from July 2010 issue here fully, as they are not available on public domain.
The debate over Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auctions and internet telephony comes at a time when international organizations and analysts are painting a starkly contrasting picture of the Indian telecom and IT sectors. Recent International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data reveals that the success of India’s telecom revolution is restricted to mobile voice with very little to showcase in fixed line and internet access, or high-speed broadband. For a country that is the global IT and ITeS capital or the world’s back office, its own internet penetration remains one of the lowest in the world. Forecasts are equally uninspiring, projecting high-speed internet access to remain abysmal till 2012. Internet broadband penetration will limp along to eventually reach a measly 3.
Bangladesh and India are set to compete for the same set of telecom investors with Bangladesh announcing auctions for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum close on the heels of India unveiling its BWA policy. However, while Bangladesh’s policy is designed to attract fresh competition by keeping its existing operators and their shareholders (foreign and Bangladeshi) out of the spectrum bids, India has opted for a different route. India has restricted BWA bidding to only those who either hold an ISP or a unified access service (UAS) licence, thereby either forcing companies to acquire ISP/UAS licenses before the bidding or keeping away new entrants who are unable to acquire such licences due to price or time constraints. “Other contrasts are equally striking and show up uncomfortable flaws with India’s auction guidelines,” says a telecom analyst. While India’s BWA guidelines are just four pages, Bangladesh’s is a 57-page invitation for applications for grant of licence.
LIRNEasia’s ‘Rapid Response Program’ is exactly what the name suggests. We react to immediate information needs of telecom regulators, at short notice. The response might not be lengthy and as comprehensive as we would like it to be, but nevertheless helpful, as Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) have realised. LIRNEasia saw BTRC’s move to issue three new Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licenses a positive development, as Bangladesh is certainly not a country that can boast of quality and affordable broadband. This is what we learnt from our research: Exceptionally high cost of broadband remains a key barrier that prevents the development of the BPO industry in Bangladesh.
Commercial WiFi hotspots face a dim future in South Africa – at least among corporate workers on the move, a new research study by World Wide Worx reveals. The report shows that the corporate use of WiFi – small networks that allow wireless access to the Internet – has fallen back after a steady rise in the previous three years. By contrast, the use of 3G – wireless broadband provided by the mobile networks – has rocketed. “We have been warning for several years that commercial WiFi hotspots, especially in hotels and conference centres, are in danger of pricing themselves out of the market,” says World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck, who led the research. “And, now that a monthly subscription to a basic 3G service is cheaper than a few hours on most commercial hotspots, the chickens have come home to roost.
The first phase in a trial of an evolved version of today’s mobile phone radio access technology designed to deliver much higher wireless data rates has proven a success. The LTE / SAE (Long Term Evolution/System Architecture Evolution) Trial Initiative (LSTI) launched in May this year has reported the successful delivery of the first in a series of test results aimed at proving the potential and benefits of LTE, which is being standardized by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as a next generation mobile broadband technology. The Initiative was founded by leading telecommunications companies Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, France Telecom/Orange, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, T-Mobile and Vodafone, and was recently expanded with China Mobile, Huawei, LG Electronics, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, Signalion, Telecom Italia and ZTE joining as new members. As mobile devices become increasingly sophisticated and handle more and more complex multimedia applications, the LTE/SAE technology is designed to give end users wireless access to growing levels of data throughput on the move.3GPP LTE is specified to enable downlink/uplink peak data rates above 100/50 Mbps in initial deployment configurations.
Hutch’s entry into Indonesia’s mobile market as the 5th significant operator has started putting downward pressure on mobile calling prices, as I had predicted in my Oped piece Lower mobile prices: Through competition or profit regulation? in January of 2007. It is too early to call it a “price war” as the article below does, but the signs that prices are coming down is evident. Indonesia’s mobile retail prices are some of the highest in Asia and there is enough room for the prices to drop further. Currently, Hutch’s competitors are reacting by issuing promotions to match the new entrant’s offering, but this does not per se signify a permanent cut in prices.
As part of a special review of ICT policy in Indonesia, e-Indonesia, the Indonesian ICT monthly magazine, interviewed a number of key stakeholders including the Minister Sofyan Djalil, Commissioners from BRTI, the regulatory body, civil society group, industry reps and ICT experts. LIRNEasia researcher, Divakar Goswami, was also interviewed. The interview is featured in the online edition here. The interview is in bahasa. The English text of the interview is below: 1.
As part of the Six Country Indicators Project, Divakar presents the interim findings from the Indonesia country study. The study assesses Indonesia’s telecom sector and regulatory performance. It employs the common methodology and list of indicators adopted for the Six Country study.
A consortium of technology companies, including I.B.M. and Cisco Systems, announced plans Tuesday for a vast wireless network that would provide free Internet access to big portions of Silicon Valley and the surrounding region as early as next year. The project is the largest of a new breed of wireless networks being built across the country.
The article below from NYTimes.com has been sent to you by samarajiva AT lirne DOT net. By JOHN MARKOFF, SAN FRANCISCO, In an effort to create a global wireless alternative to cable and telephone Internet service, Intel said on Monday that it would collaborate with Clearwire, a wireless broadband company, in developing and deploying the new technology. The companies said that Intel would make a "significant” investment in Clearwire, which has begun building long-range wireless data networks around the world. Clearwire, founded by Craig O.
Dr. Randy Spence spoke of his experiences in Somalia, where there isn’t much government to speak of. But people are using ICTs. However, he emphasized that ICTs must drop in cost for the investments of the 1990s to bear fruit. “I’m involved in nanotech and biotech, and fairly rapid diffusion of this technology will be very important.