2010 September


The Kiwis talk but they no longer pay. Because they bypass the fixed and mobile networks. Thanks to the Internet-based free calling services of Skype and alike. An economist calls it “absolutely stunning” as it hurts the country’s GDP. Lambs outnumber the human population of New Zealand.
Coming from Sri Lanka, a country that endured a thirty-year war, this is nothing new. But it appears that the same issues keep coming up, and we keep making the same mistakes. Pakistan shut down mobile phones for elections. There were serious discussions in Sri Lanka about disabling mobiles within a certain distance from army camps, which meant that pretty much all of Colombo would have been a dead zone for mobiles. Now India wants the ability to listen into every conversation/text/email exchange on every Blackberry in their territory.
Earlier this year the TRC appointed a special committee to develop broadband in Sri Lanka. Possibly based on its recommendations the TRC has issued new directives on broadband, placing emphasis on customer’s right to know, an approach we at LIRNEasia also promoted a few months prior to the constitution of the committee. The guidelines had been issued in August. We regret not giving them publicity at the time. With the intention of raising awareness among broadband subscribers, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has issued a set of guidelines for broadband service providers.
Some people celebrate 25 years of anything: dead marriages, inert regional groupings, just occupying space. We don’t. SAARC must be assessed by its fruits. On internal connectivity it fails. Here’s the evidence, carried in op-ed articles in Bangladesh’s Daily Star, Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror and also in a PTI dispatch: It is always easier to do things within one’s own country than outside, or at least it should be.
His name is Khan. Salman Khan. Bill Gates is one among his countless students, yes a student, in Khan Academy. This Bangladeshi-American is the only teacher in this virtual academy. He uploads 10~15 minutes video tutorials on maths, economics, biology, history etc.
“His wireless company is the largest taxpayer in unstable Pakistan. He partnered with the dictatorship of North Korea to become the first cellphone provider in that country. And he operates in impoverished Bangladesh, where the monthly bill is around $2.50.” This is how Naguib Sawiris has been characterized after he elbowed in the Canadian wireless domain.
The Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) held a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka on September 14, 2010 at the Cinnamon Lake Side Hotel. This is list of the articles published in the News papers:

Super WiFi from white space

Posted by on September 24, 2010  /  1 Comments

The US has done it. When will Asian spectrum managers start? First step is to move TV to digital. Where are the road maps? The Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal on Thursday that would open vast amounts of unused broadcast television airwaves for high-speed wireless broadband networks and other unlicensed applications.
The dissemination work done by Nuwan Waidyanatha in Colombo is yielding unexpected results. A nice write up in Fast Company. Now if the same consortia can somehow figure out a surveillance program of bureaucratic inefficiencies, then the relevant governments of these countries may actually be able to respond well and respond fast, given that identification is just one component to controlling epidemics. Increasing the efficiency with which epidemics are identified is a step forward, but what comes after–implementation of crowd control, region-wide communications, and swift deployment of medical personnel–is the real test.
The ITU dataset is the mother lode, mined by all. But sometimes, it is good to interrogate the quality of what the ITU produces. The most recent instance of ITU data being subject to sophisticated analysis without any attention being paid to the quality of the data is by noted ICT4D scholar, Richard Heeks. In a previous essay, Heeks interrogated the numbers emanating from the ITU on “mobile subscriptions.” It is a pity the same was not done in the recent piece on Internet and broadband.
The public lecture entitled, ‘From euphoria to pragmatism: The experience and the potentials of eHealth in Asia’ was held at The Sri Lanka Medical Association on 14 September 2010. The lecture was on eHealth, which is being adapted widely, from primary to tertiary healthcare in many countries.. Especially, using more appropriate and relevant technologies, such as mobile technologies in tele-health and health informatics. Dr.
The Director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Auton Lab – Prof Artur Dubrawski – delivered a keynote speech at the Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka organized eHealth Sri Lanka 2010 conference, 15-16 September, 2010. His talk titled – Detection of Informative Disjunctive Patterns in Support of Clinical Informatics (click to view slides) – has synergies with the Real-Time Biosurveillance Program (RTBP) we are piloting in India and Sri Lanka. RTBP specifically integrates a data mining and probability testing tool called the T-Cube Web Interface. In addition to the keynote, Chamindu Sampath, LIRNEasia Research Assistant, presented a paper titled the “T-Cube web tool for rapid detection of disease outbreaks in India and Sri Lanka” (click to view the slides) and a poster. Several interesting issues regarding data quality needed for event monitoring was discussed by the audience during the session: public health informatics.
Less than 1% broadband penetration is embarrassing for one of the BRICs, which is also a nuclear power and the world’s largest democracy too. India plugs only 200,000 new broadband connections every month while its monthly mobile intake is 15~18 million. Such contrast is self-defeating. That’s why TRAI has decided to revisit its outdated broadband policy. Ovum comments on the outcome of this consultation.

Is SAARC real?

Posted by on September 17, 2010  /  2 Comments

An organization called RIS (Research and Information System for Developing Countries) invited me to speak at a workshop celebrating 25 years of SAARC. I see nothing to celebrate, but came nevertheless because there is value in cross-fertilization and because it was time to apply some more pressure on changing the absurd international calling prices and roaming charges in the region. It was like being the new kid in the class. These people had been meeting each other for the past 25 years or more and knew each other well. Many warm and fuzzy things were said about what a wonderful thing regional cooperation was.
The shoe is yet to drop in terms of South-Asia-like retail prices, but Bharti is beginning to move out its famed outsourcing model to Africa. The story emphasizes IBM, but one has to be understanding of the US-centric NYT. I.B.M.
APAC is home to both some of the fastest and slowest average broadband speeds in the world, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots threatens to widen. TelecomAsia reports.
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