2012 August


Apparently a gap that cannot be bridged has opened up in smartphone sales thanks to sub USD200 smartphones from Huawei and others. let us be thankful the gap is only in smartphones. Smartphones are so popular here that it’s difficult to avoid seeing one, and in China, these devices are poised to become even more widespread. This year, China will account for 26.5 percent of all smartphone shipments, compared to 17.
CPRsouth is LIRNEasia’s principal capacity building vehicle. It has, from the beginning, been shaped by research on networks. It is also an object of research for the Human Capital Research Program at LIRNEasia. We were therefore pleased that a research paper looking at the metrics of CPRsouth performance was accepted at the 40th anniversary conference of TPRC, September 21-23, 2012 at the George Mason School of Law, just outside Washington DC. Link to paper.
The above is a paraphrase of a eye-catching title of a paper being read at TPRC 2012, on September 22, 2012, by LIRNEasia Research Fellow Faheem Hussain. Congratulations to Faheem on getting his paper accepted at the oldest ICT policy research conference.
For some time, we have been engaged in the task of improving the way Internet users are counted. We are in agreement with the ITU that the best way of counting Internet users is through demand-side surveys. According to reports, China conducts regular surveys on Internet use. Yet, the ITU does not use these data. Why?
In May LIRNEasia responded to a consultation on proposals for VAS licensing in Bangladesh. Our response received wide coverage too. It appears that we (among others) may have influenced the government’s response, as reported in the Daily Star. The telecom ministry will form a five-member panel to examine the issues related to mobile phone value-added service (VAS). The decision came yesterday at a meeting attended by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and ministry officials and representatives of mobile operators and content developers.
Ministers making statements outside their areas of competence without consulting appropriate authorities is no way to govern. But that apparently is what the Pakistan Interior Minister has done by announcing the end of prepaid mobile in his country, according to Dawn: In a meeting on Friday the operators took strong exception to Rehman Malik’s statement and declared it uncalled for. “The statement has created panic in the industry and it appears that it might have been given purposely to target the telecom industry,” an official of a leading operator told this correspondent. He said in the meeting the operators had also decided to see the PTA chairman in this regard.
Bangladesh is a big country and a coastal country. Yet it was very late in getting connected to a cable. SEA-ME-WE 4 became operational only in 2006. Then it was the largest country without redundancy,having to rely on SEA-ME-WE 4 even to communicate with India, the country that surrounds it. Now all that is over.
In 2007 Smith Dharmasaroja, the former disaster czar of Thailand, pointed to the dangers posed by mountains of mud deposited by the Ganges in the Bay of Bengal. What the research below raises is the danger of soft material combined with earthquakes. Are these not high priority research areas for our scientists? In a paper published today (24 August 2012) in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Professors Dan McKenzie and James Jackson of Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences describe for the first time the added factor that may have made this tsunami so severe: a huge collapse of soft material on the sea bed resulted in a far greater movement of water than would have been caused by the earthquake alone. Full report.
The Economist carries a good piece on the innovation/entrepreneurial boom in Kenya centered around the mobile. There should be such a place in developing Asia. Where? In 2002 Kenya’s exports of technology-related services were a piffling $16m. By 2010 that had exploded to $360m.
Hard truth about why the successful mobile payments model pioneered in Kenya has failed to spread. However Kenya’s success has yet to be replicated much elsewhere. More than half of all the world’s mobile-money transactions are handled by Safaricom. Mobile money is popular in one or two chaotic countries, such as Sudan and Somalia, but barely used in most places where it could do immense good, including India and China. Not all countries need mobile money, of course.
I have heard many absurd proposals related to the mobile industry, but this about takes the cake. Pakistan’s government is considering a radical plan which could dramatically alter the mobile phone industry in the country – as it mulls proposals to ban Prepaid SIM cards from sale. The Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the government is considering a phased ban on all prepaid SIM cards in an effort to clamp down on terrorism in the country. However, with something in the region of 97% of the entire mobile subscriber base on PrePay tariffs, the impact on the industry would be huge. In addition to the costs of upgrading billing systems to cope with the surge in contract customers, and having facilities in retail stores to cope with the migration – the networks would also face a hole in their finances as payments switch from in advance, to monthly in arrears.
Badalkumbura is located in the Moneragala District, one of the most impoverished in Sri Lanka. But it is located in the midst of a smallholder boom in rubber. Here, the key advantage is the weather. In contrast to the traditional rubber districts where rain prevents tapping of the trees for latex sometimes for half the month, rainy days are an exception in Moneragala. Thus new rubber is expanding rapidly, all with smallholders.
Asia is the world’s biggest seamless landmass. Yet the Asian countries have been interlinked by submarine cables. As if Asia is an archipelago. That’s why the undersea earthquakes have emerged as the serial killer of international connectivity. It disrupted Asia’s telecom services in 2006 and thereafter.
LIRNEasia is sending its Senior Research Manager, Sriganesh Lokanathan to participate in a short course on Visual Analytics at Middlesex University in the United Kingdom. The course if of high relevance to LIRNEasia’s 2012-2014 research agenda.a A big part of the upcoming research cycle involves the use of Big-Data analysis, partly to try and answer some social science research questions. Middlesex University is part of the UK Visual Analytics Consortium (UKVAC), which is a partnership of UK universities with a shared interest in establishing a multi-disciplinary scientific community in the UK dedicated to promoting and contributing to the visual analytics research and development agenda in the UK. The UKVAC Visual Analytics Summer School 2012 (VASS2012) is jointly funded by the US Department of Homeland Security via the US Centre for Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments (VACCINE) and the UK Home Office.
ASEAN citizens don’t need to obtain visa while traveling within the region. They receive visa on arrival. It is an important benchmark of successful regional cooperation. Indonesia’s Communication and Information Minister, Tifatul Sembiring, wants to take it another step ahead. He has proposed to abolish mobile roaming charges withing ASEAN by 2014.
A book that I co-authored with C.J. Amaratunge was launched last week. An excellent summary and review by W.A.
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