2009 November


In a major win for think tanks seeking to bring evidence to the policy process in developing countries, the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa, by its decision The Competition Commission of South Africa v TELKOM (Case No: 623/2008), has unequivocally overruled the claims of bias leveled against the LINK Centre, then headed by our colleague Alison Gillwald (now heading Research ICTs Africa). In addition to getting its odd argument rejected, Telkom will have to pay a 3.7 Billion Rand fine plus costs. Ouch! Alison is the featured dinner speaker at CPRsouth4 in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on December 7th.
On November 28th an interview about LIRNEasia’s work and the LIRNEasia@5 conference that will take place on Dec 9-11 in Colombo will be aired on Masala Canada. It’s already on the web. MASALA CANADA is an eclectic mix of stories, conversations and music with a South Asian flavour. Hosted and produced by Wojtek Gwiazda, this weekly radio program deals with everything from art and culture, to economics, politics and everyday life. MASALA CANADA is heard on shortwave and the Internet throughout India, South Asia and the world.
Brussels, Nov 25-26 – Third Civil Protection Forum organized by the European Commission. It rains heavily, but fortunately no floods as in Ireland. Ideal environment to discuss disaster risks. I speak at Seminar F titled ‘Innovative Technology for Disaster Management’. I am one of the two speakers from Asia in the entire conference; the other is from Japan.
We were not optimistic about the telecom regulators actually doing something about lowering intra-SAARC phone prices more than one year after the SAARC heads of state said it should be done. The regulators show their independence when it comes to matters such as this. But the prices came down for LK-IN calls without any regulatory intervention. We continue to live in hope. South Asian telecommunications regulators have decided to ask phone companies in the region to reduce international call charges, an official said.
Dream of digital Bangladesh quotes us extensively. Poor people in Bangladesh are more likely to own mobile phones and televisions than the same group in India, but the availability of computers in poor Bangladeshi households is almost zero, according to a recent study. The survey by LIRNEasia – a Sri Lanka-based information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation think tank dealing with the Asia-Pacific – also revealed a comparative reluctance among poor Bangladeshis to buy radios.
The health departments and health workers involved in the Real-Time Biosruveillance Program (RTBP) pilot see the benefits in the m­-HealthSurvey for real­-time data collection, T­Cube Web Interface for near­-real­-time outbreak detection, and Sahana Alerting Module for real­-time health risk information dissemination. Preliminary lessons to date indicate the need for more robust mobile application for data collection with complete standardized content in disease­-syndrome for reduction of noise and increase of reliability in the datasets. More rigorous capacity building and frequent use is required for health officials to take advantage of the full potential of TCWI. Further exercises need to be carried out with the Sahana Alerting Module to understand its shortcomings. Given that the system has been in preliminary use for less than six months, it is anticipated that the usability issues will subside in time to come.
Based on LIRNEasia’s broadband QoSE research findings, we ran an advertisement in the Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka’s leading English daily) on 24 November 2009.  The advertisement focused on four facts. The first three were on value for money, advertised download speed as opposed to actual download speed and bandwidth bottlenecks.  The lack of regulation on contention ratios (how many users per “channel”) was highlighted as the fourth fact We pointed out that LIRNEasia’s recommendation about imposing contention ratios of 1:20 (Business) and 1:50 (Residential) had been adopted by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with minor changes.  TRAI mandates contention ratios of 1:30 for Business and 1:50 for Residential.
There is a massive mismatch between the supply and demand for education in journalism and electronic media in India. All media markets, MSM and new, are booming, with a massive demand for people to work in them. Demand is being met mostly by unaccredited private establishments, and by on-the-job training. The government appears to be supplying significant funding for journalism and electronic media education at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (originally an open university, where people were to study from afar). They held a national symposium to assess the challenges and opportunities.
In the old days, you’d just take over the newspapers and the TV channels. Now you have to take over the phone company too. It is implanting 6,000 Basij militia centers in elementary schools across Iran to promote the ideals of the Islamic Revolution, and it has created a new police unit to sweep the Internet for dissident voices. A company affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards acquired a majority share in the nation’s telecommunications monopoly this year, giving the Guards de facto control of Iran’s land lines, Internet providers and two cellphone companies. And in the spring, the Revolutionary Guards plan to open a news agency with print, photo and television elements.
Helani Galpaya, COO of LIRNEasia,  was invited by the Strategic Affairs Directorate to speak at a  seminar on Alternatives for Infrastructure Development and Broadband Access.   Brazil is embarking on an ambitious program to increase broadband penetration, and is currently discussing various options – one of the more interesting being the provision of a government-owned backbone, using the dark fibre that is currently owned by the electricity and petroleum companies.  The pros and cons of this, and other options were discussed at the seminar, and a the full day of closed-door discussions that followed between the speakers and the Strategic Affairs Directorate staff.   Helani focused on the importance of thinking about the market structure (whether or not there was sufficient competition at all points in the network) and demand stimulation.  For example, Nokia’s TCO study shows that Brazil has the highest cost for mobile users among all the countries studied (possibly driven by highly asymmetric interconnection rates and lack of sufficient competition, among other things).
TRAI Chair Dr J.S. Sarma, Principal Advisor Mr N. Parameswaran and Advisor (Convergence) Mr S.K.
I wish the question mark was not necessary, but the record so far does not allow me exclude it. We started this process in the weeks before the 2008 SAARC Summit. When the issue was mentioned in the SAARC Chair’s speech and included in the Declaration, we were, naturally, pleased. I recall telling a journalist that at most it would take a few months to get this implemented. We raised the issue with the then Chair of the South Asian Telecom Regulator’s Council, Mr Nripendra Misra of India.
We reproduce fully below, Carlos A. Afonso’s post to a thread on Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility responding to discussions at the IGF workshop “Expanding broadband access for a global Internet economy: development dimensions”, in which Rohan Samarajiva, Chair/CEO LIRNEasia was the keynote speaker. We retain the original title. As neither we nor most of our readers do not have access to the thread it was posted, we like to continue the discussion here. __________________________________________________________________ Hi people, I come from one of the ten largest economies in the world, with nearly 200 million people, 8.
“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.
The Second India Disaster Management Congress (IDMC 2009) took place from 4-6 November at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. It was organized by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) to assemble, synthesize and further disseminate knowledge on disaster management in diverse sectors. Natasha Udu-gama, former HazInfo Dissemination Manager and Researcher, presented “Implementing Inclusive ICTs: Mobile Cell Broadcasting for Public Warning and Commercial Use” based on the LIRNEasia study in the Maldives” completed in May 2009. Her presentation was made during the Early Warning and Disaster Communications session on Friday, 6 November. The session was chaired by Mr.
I am writing this sitting at an IGF session dealing with the twin themes of access and diversity. Learning new and useful things about making websites accessible to differently abled people which should have important implications for the design of mobile terminals that will make more-than-voice services more accessible to those lacking knowledge capital. The danger of course is the money question. When the many well meaning people who work on disabled access issues look around for money to advance their causes, they first look to government. And where in government?