2012 October


Fury of Sandy hasn’t spared anything that a modern society survives on. Unlike most of the cities in America, the wooden power poles don’t exist across the downtown of New York and Manhattan. But the underground power cable systems are submerged by stagnant salty water from tidal wave. Barb Darrow posted a chilling account of consequences in Gigaom: As already reported, data center facilities in lower Manhattan suffered a string of outages after flooding and Con Ed cut electrical power. Datagram, the web hosting company that serves the Huffington Post, Gawker, Gizmodo and BuzzFeed, went down Monday evening after flooding caused those sites to go dark.
The Center for Democracy and Technology has been in the trenches of Internet policy from the 1990s. They played a leading role in expanding the debate over the various proposals to extend the ITU’s scope to include the Internet at the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) in December 2012. Here in their latest paper, they draw on work including mine, to argue that many of the proposed revisions to the International Telecom Regulations are likely to do more harm than good.
ETNO has earned notoriety for its ill-considered proposal to impose the old sending-party-network-pays principle on networks that house servers carrying attractive content. It is clear that ETNO and its allies in Egypt and elsewhere are is looking beyond the “sending party” networks at the OTT players such as Google and Facebook, who they perceive as those with the real money. Greed loves company. The old style telcos who make up the membership of ETNO are not alone. The old-style media firms of Europe would also like to get their hands on the earnings of Google et al.
With slow-moving Sandy leaving New York State, they are counting the dead. It appears that 22 people died. Each death is a tragedy that the disaster managers would have loved to avoid. But can you imagine what the toll would have been if not for extensive planning and early warning? The word “cell broadcasting” is not used in the piece from the Atlantic that I am quoting below, but it is quite clear that she is talking about cell broadcasting, a topic we have researched and written about extensively.
Analysys Mason has published a report for the Internet Society on what a good thing the Internet is, as it is, not as it might be if undermined by the imposition of telco business models, according to Telecom TV. This report is a sober reminder that the Internet continues to work remarkably well and that its heartbeat is sustained by the very things – openness underpinned by settlement-free peering – that some want to get rid of. The report tackles all of the technical and structural objections to the way the Internet is governed and shows how the technology and the evolving business models have always solved looming crises. For instance, despite fears to the contrary the history of the Internet so far has involved sustainable development as bandwidth demands rise. Telecom TV has further said that this report, commission by the Internet Society and entitled ‘How the Internet continues to sustain growth and innovation’, is a direct and pointed rebuttal to all the talk of data tsunami, unsustainable business models, scissor effects and so on that we’ve had for the last year or two and which have culminated (in a way) in the effort to establish ‘sending network pays’ […]
The British government has allocated nearly £1bn to accelerate the development of superfast network. It is expected to boost national broadband speeds to more than 24 megabits per second – nearly three times today’s average – by 2015. This initiative is an essential part of the UK government’s policy, which believes that rapid internet access will boost productivity, create new industries and link distant areas. The Economist Intelligence Unit, however, argues that existing networks are capable of delivering many of the anticipated new services over the next few years. It also warned that there were obstacles to even using the existing technology capabilities, including a shortage of digital skills and ingrained resistance to change, although it predicts that there will be some short-term stimulus to jobs and economic activity.
In the old days one needed supercomputers to analyze big data. American Express was the second largest customer for Cray after the NSA. Then you could do analysis on normal computer computers but with fancy software like T Cube. Now Microsoft plans on building these capabilities into Excel. Next year’s version of the Excel spreadsheet program, part of the Office suite of software, will be able to comb very large amounts of data.
The paper was presented at the ITS India conference early this year. Somehow, we neglected to do a post about it. But, better late than never. Here it is. A subsequent revision of the ILDTS in late 2009 failed to address the concerns raised in this paper.
Right now disaster awareness is high. A cyclone was heading toward Sri Lanka’s Northeast Coast but has apparently veered off toward the Indian East Coast. Flooding has started in different parts of the country, trees are falling, transport has been affected. Of course, people are very aware of Hurricane Sandy and the US East Coast because of the power of international media. I found myself also monitoring Hawai’i a few days ago, because they were expecting a tsunami there (it came, but at insignificant wave heights).
The termination of voice calls is a form of trade in services which is in many countries, including Pakistan, governed by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The buyer of the service is the company abroad that wishes to terminate voice calls in Pakistan. The seller is the international long distance operator in Pakistan who receives the calls and terminated them on various Pakistan telephone numbers. Under GATS, the sellers in Pakistan are free to enter into any kind of commercial arrangement with foreign operators. What cannot be done is for the government to get involved.
LIRNEasia contributed to a set of broadband quality rules that TRAI formulated in 2009. They dealt with contention ratios being maintained at certain levels and being periodically published. There is no mention of those rules in the report in the Hindu Businessline, which focuses on response times to complaints. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India proposes to collect a penalty of Rs 50,000 from operators if they violate any of the set quality norms for broadband services. The penalty will increase to Rs 1 lakh for the second violation.
We’re irregular visitors to IGF (Helani went to Rio and Hyderabad; I went to Sharm el Sheikh, . . . ). But this year is kinda exciting, with the WCIT sword hanging over the multi-stakeholder model.
We have wondered aloud about how Facebook will make money, especially from the majority of its users who are outside the US and who access it over mobile platforms. Apparently it made USD 150 million last quarter, the first in which broke out the numbers. The earnings report was the first time the company had broken out from its overall advertising revenue how much money it collects from mobile ads. The information helped to address a critical question that investors have had about how Facebook will respond to the world’s shift to mobile computing; 60 percent of all Facebook users log in from their phones. Although it is not a direct comparison, Google is poised to make far more money from mobile devices.
A new report, “Unlocking the Benefits of Cloud Computing for Emerging Economies—A Policy Overview” by Peter F. Cowhey and Michael Kleeman of the University of California San Diego, details how 60 percent of world server workloads to take place on cloud computers by 2014. It examines the critical benefits to lower and middle-income economies, in particular those of India, Mexico and South Africa, from international and domestic adoption of cloud computing. Among the key findings in the report are: The cloud enables developing world economies to be competitive with higher value added products as goods and services become more information and communications technology (ICT) intensive; The cloud bolsters South-South commerce, the fastest growing share of world trade investment; The cloud’s scalability boosts job creation by helping small to medium sized businesses reduce costs and investments; The cloud enables developing world countries’ governments to deliver core services more effectively and efficiently; and The cloud boosts network infrastructure investment in lower income economies.   View the full report.
LIRNEasia has been vocal against the feudal doctrines of ITU and ETNO on dwarfing the Internet. The duo has staged a Twitter Storm on October 10. They have, predictably, failed to justify the command and control of Internet. While responding to LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, the ETNO chief Luigi Gambardella said, “We know that today Internet economic model is not sustainable” (Click on the thumbnail at left). Dennis Weller and Bill Woodcock have recently coauthored a new OECD report, “Internet Traffic Exchange: Market Developments and Policy challenges.
LIRNEasia was early in seeing mobile as the future. We had the benefit of the Teleuse@BOP surveys. We were seen as the main voice for the mobile future in ICT4D circles. We carried comments from people like Steve Jobs who saw it coming. Now the wave that we saw developing in our part of the world has reached the centers of ICT power.