2012 September

The spectrum refarming process is picking up speed in the US. The auction process will have three parts. In the first, the F.C.C.
We’re celebrating 25 years of the Montreal Protocol. I was in Ohio when the Treaty was signed and I wasn’t too hopeful it would work. The whole thing had started with a research paper published in 1974, just 13 years before the treaty. It’s very hard to get an international treaty. Even harder to make one that actually work.
Ghana’s Communication Minister Mr. Haruna Iddrisu said his government “will not allow any economic cost or value to the internet that will limit access” and ubiquitous access to Internet is a “nonnegotiable” issue. In a stakeholder meeting Idrisu also said, “One ingredient that had helped Ghana to enjoy the stable and peaceful economy was access and use of ICT and that the Government would not interfere in what its Constitution has guaranteed.” The government’s statement came within few days after Ghana News Agency ran a story based on LIRNEasia CEO Rohan Samarajiva’s article, “A Giant Step Backward or the Way Forward? An Analysis of Some Proposals before the WCIT.
For two days, I’ve been immersed in debates around WCIT, here in Accra at the African preparatory meeting. The delegate from Egypt, who had control of the text, was the most committed advocate of imposing a form of accounting-rate regime on data flows. According to him, the data are a burden on the network, they cause harm to the network, and the access network operators are subsidizing them. His views extend to content: he believes that the content is in some cases inappropriate. I could understand this attitude from an executive of an old style unreformed voice telephony company, longing for the good old monopoly days when the network was operated for the benefit of the managers and employees and the customers were an annoyance to be tolerated.
When I was asked by LMD about barriers to growth in the ICT sector, I mentioned parents who are not open to their children becoming entrepreneurs. Here is a supportive story from India. In Bangalore, a city at the forefront of many social changes in India, the young are leading a vibrant start-up culture that has taken root over the past few years, much to the dismay of a generation of parents. According to these elders, respectfully called “Aunty” and “Uncle” in India by the younger generation, the natural progression after college is to work for a short time, to get an M.B.
Earlier this month I was asked by a panel moderator what the most critical factor was in accelerating broadband use. My answer was mobile apps. If people have interesting things to do with their devices, they will upgrade to smartphones, they will pay the usage charges, etc. This is also why I decided to put some effort into beating back ETNO’s misguided effort to squeeze the Internet into a dysfunctional accounting-rate regime. So where are these apps coming from?
Ghana News Agency has given an in-depth coverage of Rohan’s article, “A Giant Step Backward or the Way Forward? An Analysis of Some Proposals before the WCIT.” GNA said: Analyzing the proposals, which were from member states in Africa and the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO), Dr. Rohan Samarajiva, former Sri Lankan Telecommunication regulator, said they could artificially raise the cost of network interconnection, content delivery, and quality of service, and that these costs would ultimately be passed along to those least able to afford them or would result in exclusion from the Internet economy. Here is the full report.
Starting with a comparison between 40 year old TPRC, 25+ EuroCPR and 7 year old CPRsouth, I presented data from CPRsouth developed by the Human Capital Research team headed by Sujata Gamage to an engaged audience (they had to be, given it was the last session on the last day of the conference). The majority of the discussion focused on my claim that we did not focus on face-to-face interactions between scholars, government people and industry representatives, given we were a multi-country network lacking a geographical focus like Washington DC and Brussels. The presentation is here.
Sitting at a session in TPRC40 listening to LIRNEasia Research Fellow Faheem Hussain presenting his paper. Impressed that this kind of study, analyzing an issue that is not of great relevance to US telecom policy scholars, is accommodated at TPRC. The challenge, of course, is to pull back from the temptation to give too much detail on the exotica of a particular developing country and to present the abstract high level findings that may be of interest to a broader audience.
I just completed a paper that summarizes the key arguments I have been making against the ETNO proposals to impose sending party network pays principle on the Internet. Here is an excerpt from the paper: ETNO wants the ITU to designate Internet content providers as “call originators” and subject them to a “sending party network pays” rule that would allow telecommunications operators to charge them rates they believe are commensurate with the bandwidth their content consumes. Such a change would have enormous implications for the expansion of the digital economy in the developing world. • Access to content would become more expensive if content providers must pass along costs. • Content providers may respond by terminating connections with operators, especially in countries with populations that have limited buying power and access to payment mechanisms.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has invited me to speak at “Regional Expert Consultation on Connecting Asia-Pacific’s Digital Society for Resilient Development” in Colombo during 5-6 September. There I presented that Asia’s wholesale prices of Internet bandwidth remains six-times expensive compared to the Europe and USA. Participating experts have overwhelmingly endorsed my proposal of laying fiber along Asian Highway to build an open-access transcontinental terrestrial network. It has been captured in the outcome document of the conference stating: Experts recommended that various bilateral, regional and transcontinental initiatives continue to be pursued, while also exploring new ways to reduce infrastructure costs by synchronizing the roll-out of terrestrial fibre optic cables with other infrastructure development, notably highway construction, for example, using regional connectivity offered by ESCAP’s intergovernmental agreement on the Asian Highway. Experts also noted that open access principles are a key requirement in bringing down costs for universal access to broadband connectivity, as proposed in LIRNEasia’s Longest International Open access Network (LION).
To mark the 40th anniversary of TPRC, its current Chair Johannes Bauer and long-time member and international enthusiast Prabir Neogi have organized a special international panel “A Comparison of Broadband Strategies in Developed and Developing Countries: Perspectives, Challenges and Lessons.” The participants are Robert Atkinson, ITIF, USA; Catherine Middleton, Ryerson University, Canada; Jean Paul Simon, IPTS and EuroCPR, France; Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia and CPRSouth; Alison Gillwald, ICT Africa; Judith Mariscal, CIDE and DIRSI; and Erik Bohlin, Chalmers University and ITS. It is intended to be an interactive panel organized the theme “When it comes to national broadband strategies One size DOES NOT fit all” The panelist will be invited to respond to two or more of the following questions: What is the most important aspect that you would want the audience to know about national/regional conditions affecting the design and implementation of broadband policies in your country/region? Does your country/region have an explicit Broadband Strategy at the national and/or regional levels? If yes, what is the scale ($$, Targets), scope (Demand side initiatives as well as Supply side ones) and duration (short, medium or long term)?
Having voted on behalf of the government at ITU forums, I can imagine the discomfiture of Indian officials when their decisions to go along with proposals to bring the Internet under the authority of the ITU are questioned by powerful domestic stakeholders. Opposing the government’s decision of having a global body to regulate Internet content, India Inc as well civil society groups today said that India should withdraw its consent to such a proposal. Besides, they argued that the government had taken a unilateral decision on Internet governance, without discussing it with the civil society members, industry or academicians. India had favoured an international proposal to regulate Internet content through a United Nations Committee on Internet Related Policies (CIRP) comprising 50 bureaucrats from the UN Member countries. India concurred with the CIRP on October 26, 2011 by making a statement at the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Tuvalu is bracing for competition

Posted by on September 18, 2012  /  0 Comments

Tuvalu is one of the smallest nations of the world with 10,619 population and 26 square kilometers of land spreading over 09 islands in a chain, 676 km long on the outer western edge of Polynesia. Funafuti is the largest atoll of the nine low reef isla...
Date: October 15, 2012 Time: 09:00 AM – 1:00 PM Location: Inservice Training Institute, Gannoruwa, Peradeniya The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with LIRNEasia, University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture, University of Alberta, and University of Guelph will be hosting a workshop on the use of low cost information and communication technology (ICT) for individuals working across the agricultural sector. The workshop will provide an introduction and basic training on the use of free and open source software to enable community groups and individuals to set up very easily and then use the simple but powerful tools for communication, information collection, knowledge sharing, data visualization, and interactive mapping. The workshop will cover three basic platforms: • FrontlineSMS (text messaging and radio interface) • Ushahidi (interactive mapping) • Freedom Fone (interactive voice response) There is no cost to attend the workshop but seating is limited. Please register your interest in participating through LIRNEasia by contacting : nuwan [at] lirneasia [dot] net Click to download the workshop announcement
The first publication from LIRNEasia’s Human Capital Research Program is in bookstores in Colombo and at the International Book Exhibition opening at the BMICH on September 18th (CG Associates University Bookstore D-206 and D-207). It is a directory that provides comprehensive and authoritative information about the choices facing school leavers who wish to enter degree programs. The choices outside the University Grants Commission bottleneck are wider than thought. The HCR program plans to follow up with directories on professional qualifications, etc.