News From Telecom World

Archive for September 2008

If you are wondering what caused the current financial crises of US, have a look at this article published in 1999.

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets — including the New York metropolitan region — will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

Under Fannie Mae’s pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 — a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Source: New York Times

Past and present of spectrum allocation

Past and present of spectrum allocation

The telecom regulator yesterday allocated 17.5 MHz additional spectrum to three top mobile operators at a cost of Tk 80 crore per MHz.

The additional spectrum will help relieve the operators from customers’ complaints of call dropping and network congestion.

As per the reorganised spectrum, Grameenphone will have 21.9 MHz along with newly allocated 7.4 MHz. Banglalink and AKTEL’s spectrum will be 17.5 MHz and 17.8 MHz along with new allocation of 5.1 MHz and 5 MHz respectively.

“We have allocated required spectrum to the three mobile operators. I think with the new allocation, the operators will provide better service,” said Maj Gen (retd) Manzurul Alam, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), after a meeting with senior officials of the top three operators.

Spectrum is important in wireless communications where it is mathematically related to the wavelength. It is required as per the growth in customers.

The operators who have long been demanding additional spectrum are Grameenphone, Banglalink and AKTEL, having 90 percent of the total mobile market share.

The cellphone companies will have to make 25 percent down payments of the allocated spectrum costs by next month. The rest of the amount can be paid through instalment within a six-month period.

BTRC will earn Tk 1,400 crore for allocating 17.5 MHz spectrum. It is the first time in Bangladesh that operators are paying for spectrum.

“We agreed with the price. But we urged the regulator to keep the new allocation near our existing spectrum so we can get maximum benefits,” said a high official of an operator, who attended the meeting with BTRC.

Meanwhile, the telecom watchdog defended yesterday its drive against irregularities by different mobile phone operators.

BTRC chief told a press meet that his organisation functioned in a way what it should be to ensure compliance in the industry.

“What we did in the last 18 months is completely ratified by the law of the land. Had we been silent over the illegal practices of mobile phone operators, we would have shown negligence to our duty.” Major General (rtd) Manzurul Alam said.

The BTRC chief also hoped that the next political government would facilitate the regulator to go ahead with its drive against any illegal practices, especially international call termination, or VoIP business by the land and mobile phone operators, which it started after a shake-up in the organisation’s administration. .

The present government made a reshuffle in the BTRC in April 2007, as it came under fire for its silent spectator’s role in curbing irregularities in the functions of cell phone operators.

Source: Daily Star

The latest data from Point Topic shows that China has overtaken the US to become the largest broadband market worldwide. Both markets had around 78 million broadband lines at end-August, but with China growing twice as fast as the US.

New broadband lines in the US dropped from 3.4 million in Q4 2007 to almost 1.1 million in Q2 2008. In China, new broadband connections jumped from 3.5 million to 5 million over the same period. Point Topic data shows that the US had almost 76.9 million broadband lines at end-June 2008, with China less than 900,000 lines behind on 76 million. Point Topic expects the US to show some improvement in Q3 2008, with growth in China falling back a bit. However, it is almost certain that China will come on top when the final data for Q3 2008 comes in.

Source: Telecom Paper

Time is something we all need more of, but how can you get more of it when there is only 24 hours in a day? Sadly there is no way to put more hours into each day, but what you can do is be more efficient with your time so you can follow your dreams. Here is how I was more efficient during my college years, which allowed me to run a business at the same time.

1. Watch television on the web – the problem with television is that you had to watch TV shows when they want you to watch them. Now with the technology advancements most entertainment channels like NBC, FOX, CW, and even a few cable networks let you watch your favorite TV shows online. It is free, you can watch the shows when you want to, and an hour show usually ends up being 45 minutes because there are a lot less commercials.
2. Sleep more – if you learn to take power naps, you will have more energy throughout the day. Although you may lose some time from napping, you will be able to work more efficiently, which will give you more time.
3. Eat healthy meals – changing your diet maybe hard at first, but eating balanced meals will affect how you do your daily tasks. It will give you more energy so you can get your work done faster.
4. Do less work – a lot of the things you do on a daily basis, don’t need to be done. Think about your daily routine and cut out anything that isn’t essential. You will be surprised on how much time you are wasting.
5. Tell people what’s on your mind – being honest and to the point is a great way to accomplish things quicker. When you beat around the bush things don’t get accomplished as fast. Just think about boardroom meetings, people are hesitant to say what is on their mind, which causes meetings to drag on forever.
6. Have some fun – all work and no play is a good way to make you feel depressed. Get some fun into your life, it will make you feel better, work harder, and hopefully make you want to accomplish your dreams.
7. Adjust your working hours – many companies are very flexible on what times you can start and end work. If you work in a heavy traffic city such as Los Angeles you can easily spend an hour or 2 commuting to work during rush hour. But if you adjust your working hours you can cut back on driving time drastically.
8. Cut down on your communication methods – cell phones, email, and instant messaging are just a few tools you probably use to communicate with others. The problem with some of these methods is that they can easily be abused. For example if you log onto AIM, you may waste an hour talking to others about junk. Try and use communication tools like AIM only when you need them.
9. Don’t multi-task – when you mult-task you tend to switch between what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t. By single tasking you are more likely to do what you are supposed to be doing.
10. Get rid of distractions – things you may not be thinking of can be distractions. Whether it is gadgets or even checking emails every 5 minutes, this can all distract you. By getting rid or distractions or controlling them, you will have more time on your hands.

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Should Bangladesh adopt WiMax technology to spread broadband data transmission facility now, or should it be 3GSM technology? Or maybe Bangladesh should wait a few more months to see if Long Term Evolution (LTE) is making a significant jump in broadband worldwide.

These are some debating points for information technology (IT) experts now. The debate is being fuelled by the Bangladesh Telecommunic-ation Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which floated an auction yesterday to award licences for WiMax technology operation in the country.

The BTRC’s tilt to WiMax is in line with 19 other countries that introduced the technology in the recent years. WiMax is still undergoing major evolution. South Korea and Pakistan aside, it is yet to become a dominant technology in any nation. Pakistan is the only country that provides fully functional WiMax coverage. It has also been introduced in India.

Supporters of WiMax say it is now the heavyweight wireless data transmission technology in the market and much superior to 3GSM and more ‘evolved’ than the newly introduced GSM line of technology named LTE.

Rivals supporting GSM technology say WiMax is not a standardised technology like the GSM; it is very ‘single vendor’ focussed (all parts of a network set may be manufactured by a single vendor whereas, GSM allows multiple vendors) and it is costly and may take many years to implement.

They argue, the 3G technology that proudly runs 200 networks worldwide can be implemented in six to eight months because all it needs are changes in some hardware of the country’s GSM-based mobile telecom network. The cost of upgrading to 3G in Bangladesh will be minimal and for a poor country like Bangladesh, it would mean, customers will not be burdened by high costs.

“WiMax licensing can turn fruitless because of the cost factors. The licences will block precious spectrum and thus hinder implementation of other technologies like LTE for broadband,” says an IT expert working for a leading cellular technology company.

A third view about this subject comes from another IT consultant who provides infrastructure support to telecom companies. “WiMax and LTE are in the same footing — not WiMax and 3G. That’s why, after obtaining multibillion-dollar licensing for 3G many operators in Europe did not go for complete 3G implementation,” he said.

“In that light, the BTRC should have really waited until January-February before floating the auction. By that time, the industry expects some major developments worth waiting for,” he pointed.

LTE is expected to be a fully ratified standard by the end of this year, with trials occurring in 2009 and deployments in late 2009 or 2010 offering mobile data rates of up to 170Mbps, says a telecom report by Frost and Sullivan Market Insight.

Experts say it is not yet clear whether it is LTE or WiMax that will be the dominant technology like GSM versus CDMA. “Which technology will flourish more will depend on the handset manufacturers,” said the IT consultant. “I believe in WiMax because it’s being applied in 19 countries while LTE has not been implemented yet.”

But the LTE, which is much newer than WiMax, is getting a lot of market incentives. Telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon earlier this year announced LTE deployment. Major market players such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NEC, NextWave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson have joined hands to deal with various aspects of LTE. WiMax is also facing challenges from the popular Wi-Fi technology, which now has a 100-kilometre range.

WiMax handles a huge data transfer that the 3G technology cannot. This means, for an example, WiMax can deliver smooth digital television broadcast in mobile phone, which the 3G cannot.

IT and cellphone players worldwide believe that the future mobile phone market will be demanding a huge data transfer. Mobile phones will act as the communicator, video broadcaster, entertainer and provider of any other everyday services. Hence the debate: Should we choose WiMax or should we follow the GSM path?

GSM technology has made mobile phone cheap and popular and its domination in mobile market is clear. The popularity of GSM was caused by freedom of phone users to use any handset they like (or phone companies using a host of devices not necessarily manufactured by a single company), prompting competition and quality.

Developed internationally by the WiMax Forum, WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) provides broadband speed without the requirement of cables in 50-km area. WiMax technology in cellphones was standardised two years ago.

The top mobile WiMax players include SK Telecom and KT of Korea, BT and France Telecom of Europe, Sprint Nextel of US and KDDI of Japan.

Source: Daily Star


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