2010 April


___________________________________________________ Mobile 2.0 describes the next wave of applications and services – the use of mobiles for more than voice. On the 26th and 27th of April 2010, LIRNEasia together with the PTA co-hosted a successful expert forum in Islamabad, Pakistan. A multitude of themes were discussed over the four sessions, when the experts presented their research and cases to an audience that consisted of those representing regulators, mobile operators, government agencies and the media from nine countries of the Asia Pacific region. Day 1: Opening Session Welcome Speech I: Prof.
Two years ago the New York Times reported that global internet traffic has been increasingly avoiding the United States. It means the US intelligence establishments were increasingly losing control over the other countries’ cyber data. That was the twilight of George Bush 2.0 era. Now the US and 39 or more countries are secretly negotiating a new global agreement called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
MoneyGram International has announced the expansion of its mobile money transfer service to approximately 40,000 agent locations in the United States. The expansion follows its pilot program offered from select California and Hong Kong agent locations to 40 million Philippines SMART phone users. It has recently expanded its network in Vietnam 30 Percent as two major banks began mobile remittance services at nearly 400 locations. MoneyGram joined forces with SMART Communications in December and began the pilot phase of its MoneyGram mobile money transfer services to deliver funds from a MoneyGram agent location direct to any SMART Money account. Mozido, a mobile technology provider, supplies the transaction services to link MoneyGram’s services to SMART mobile phones.
The broad objective of LIRNEasia is to bring evidence to the policy process and thereby improve it. The means by which we achieve this objective range from directly taking evidence to the policy process, through advocacy and dissemination, to building up policy intellectuals. We never quite thought that the means would extend to actually placing researchers within the supreme legislative body of a country, but with the entry of Dr Harsha de Silva to the Parliament of Sri Lanka representing the United National Front, the principal opposition party, this too has happened. We warmly congratulate Harsha and wish him the very best in continuing to improve policy discourse in Sri Lanka by bringing evidence to bear on the important questions that face our country. Harsha has been an exemplary policy intellectual, though much of his policy advocacy has occurred outside the framework of his work as LIRNEasia’s Lead Economist.
Afghanistan’s five telecoms networks have jointly set up a trade association, the Afghanistan Telecommunication Operators’ Social Association (ATOSA). Since 2001, the telecoms industry of Afghanistan has played a significant role in developing the country, creating over 100,000 indirect jobs and investing over $US1.2 billion in building a national telephone network for the first time in Afghanistan’s history. The industry is the largest tax paying sector in Afghanistan with an estimated $US $500 million paid in taxes, duties and fees to the Government since 2003, representing over 10% of all domestically generated Government revenues in the same period. Cellular News reports.
The SEA-ME-WE4 undersea cable has been down since April 14. It has been affecting Internet across the Middle East. Seawater has reportedly penetrated in the cable, according to press reports. But the SEA-ME-WE4 consortium’s website says absolutely nothing about it. As if nothing has happened at all.
Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US), the Oxford-style debate series, an initiative of The Rosenkranz Foundation, announced that it will conduct a debate on “The Cyber War Threat Has Been Grossly Exaggerated.” Four leading cyber experts will face off on June 8, 2010 to debate the subject of America’s cyber security. Debating for the motion will be Marc Rotenberg, Exec Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Adjunct Professor of Information Privacy Law at Georgetown University Law Center and Bruce Schneier, internationally renowned security technologist and author; publisher of monthly newsletter Crypto-Gram, Chief Security Technology Officer of BT.
On July 14, 2009, the FCC announced that the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University would conduct an independent expert review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world and that this project would help inform the FCC’s efforts in developing the National Broadband Plan. The Berkman Center’s Final Report was submitted to the FCC on February 16, 2010.
The present day disease surveillance and notification system in Sri Lanka, confined to a handful of diseases, known as Notifiable disease, and reporting large numbers of common cases, is what the British introduced in 1897 as part of the quarantine and prevention of diseases ordinance. This paper based surveillance and reporting system has its shortcomings that the health professionals themselves have voiced. The Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) pilot, during the first week of April, interviewed health workers and health officials in Kurunegala District to study the notification and response policy and procedures. These interviews revealed that in some occasions by the time health officials receive the notification to inspect the patient, with the infectious disease, at the patient’s residence, the patient had already died; health workers literally pull their hair trying to decipher the illegible handwriting on the paper forms; they also mentioned that they have to travel long distance from their villages to the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) office to pickup the paper forms with the patient’s information. These inefficiencies and excessive costs can be drastically reduced with ICT; with a technique as simple as a communicating the information via SMS text messages that costs Rupees 0.
In an attempt to get attention in a hard market, the UN University has contrasted mobile penetration in India with toilet penetration in India. If telephones had been left to government, unlikely this contrast could have been drawn. So the conclusion? Get multiple parties to participate in building toilets. Far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet, according to a UN study on how to improve sanitation levels globally.
Sometime back we had an unconcluded debate on e-waste with Mr Udaya Gammanpila, then Chair of the Sri Lanka Central Environmental Authority. He said, among other things, that inter-country movement of e waste was prohibited. I countered that the Basel rules permitted transport, but imposed conditions on the movement. The debate that is discussed in the NYT article below hinges on the same issue. One party argues that all e-waste exports to developing countries should be prohibited because they cannot be sure that we will follow the rules.
Sending money home has become easier and faster as two banks and a mobile operator yesterday launched a cellphone-based remittance transfer system. The joint move by Eastern Bank, Dhaka Bank and mobile operator Banglalink will allow the remittance receivers to cash in a day instead of three days to one month through different existing channels.  The new service styled ‘Mobile Wallet’, which will also serve the unbanked population at no cost, got a shape after Bangladesh Bank (The central bank) gave a go-ahead to the move a few months ago. Presently more than 90 percent of the population in Bangladesh does not have access to regular banking facilities. Read more.
Recently I presented a paper titled – Robustness of the mHealthSurvey Midlet for a Real-Time Biosurveillance program at the 2010 International Symposium on Medical Informatics and Communications Technology – in Taipei, Taiwan. The main focus was on mobile computing; especially surrounding Body Area Networks (BAN) that is in the working mills of the IEEE 802 standardization process under the auspices of Task Group 6. The present day challenges that countries like Taiwan and Japan face, also propagating in to other Asian countries, are increase in chronic illnesses, aging population, and need for convenience. Within this frame, researchers are realizing the growing need for remote sensing and maintenance of health; such remote maintenance ICT based services would reduce patient admissions (or inward patients), which countries like India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, etc, fully subsidize and can be drastically reduced. The mHealthSurvey has proven the capability to transport digitized data compressed to ~ 2KB over GPRS-10 and higher networks in rural India and Sri Lanka.

Wireless health

Posted by on April 10, 2010  /  3 Comments

I was seeing a doctor in Washington DC and had to explain to him what allergy medicine I was on. This was an unplanned visit and I did not have the prescriptions. So I showed him the package. He pulled out his i-phone and googled the brand name (I thought), instead of walking over to the computer just outside. Few weeks later, I was at a relative’s place, the kind of place where you still have to go to the garden to get a decent signal (much improved from when I was DGT when one had to stand in a precise location in the middle of a paddy field).
A report just released by DIRSI shows that Peru’s regulatory environment has improved slightly during the period from 2007 to 2009. The report, Entorno regulatorio de las telecomunicaciones: Perú 2007-2009 (Telecommunications Regulatory Environment: Peru 2007-2009), prepared by Jorge Bossio, used the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) Assessment methodology that was developed by DIRSI’s partner LIRNEasia as an approach to gaining insight on regulatory performance. The TRE methodology is based on the assumption that investment is a necessary condition for good telecom sector performance, and investment decisions are influenced by perceptions of investment risk. Using interviews and a questionnaire administered to a statistically significant cross-section of industry stakeholders and experts, the TRE assessment traverses six dimensions of regulatory risk for both the fixed and mobile sectors. The new report, the second assessment of Peru’s regulatory environment, reports that the overall influence of the regulatory environment in Peru has improved since the previous assessment (2006-2007) but remains neutral – neither encouraging nor discouraging investment.

Chinese Internet

Posted by on April 8, 2010  /  1 Comments

“Press control has really moved to the center of the agenda,” said David Bandurski, an analyst at the China Media Project of the University of Hong Kong. “The Internet is the decisive factor there. It’s the medium that is changing the game in press control, and the party leaders know this.” Today, China censors everything from the traditional print press to domestic and foreign Internet sites; from cellphone text messages to social networking services; from online chat rooms to blogs, films and e-mail. It even censors online games.
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