2012 November


Syria has plunged into cyber darkness, as the Asad regime has pulled the plug on Internet gateways. Yet, the regime blames the “terrorists” for sabotaging the connectivity. Three submarine cables have landed in Syria (Click on the picture). The country is also plugged with Turkey through a terrestrial link. Therefore, even a drunken vagabond would not believe the Syrian minister of (mis)information.
Vinton Cerf is credited with developing the protocols and structure of the Internet and the first commercial email system. He has been loud against the shifting of Internet’s control to ITU and effectively nationalizing it. He wrote an op-ed in New York Times and passionately testified before the U.S. lawmakers.
Ian Scales of Telecom TV has dubbed the WTO rules as the final nail in the coffin of ITU occupying Internet and ETNO’s demand of SPNP. Praising Rohan Samarajiva and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama for detonating “The well-timed blast” with their joint publication – Whither global rules for the Internet? The implications of the World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) for international trade – Ian said: It points out that as part of the WTO agreement 82 countries unilaterally agreed to “open up and refrain from discriminatory measures in a so-called reference paper on basic telecommunications.” Most countries also agreed not to restrict the most common forms of Internet services and signed up to a moratorium on tariffs and fees on data transmissions (known as the WTO e-commerce moratorium). Those undertakings therefore run smack-bang into proposals such as ETNO’s, as well as Arab and African states’ proposals for re-establishing a version of the old accounting rate regime (designed for telephone call revenue sharing) for Internet applications.
We’ve been looking at various aspects of the WCIT proposals over the past few months. Here’s a summary for those who have the right to vote. LIRNEasia’s analysis breaks down some of the most controversial positions expressed by Member States in recent weeks and their potential impact to the continued proliferation of global Internet access. We highlight four key areas that should be of interest to international observers and government delegations during the WCIT: · Arab States, African Telecommunication Union, & Regional Commonwealth in the field of Communications – New Regulations On Access Charges: The regions’ proposals seek to fundamentally alter the nature of the Internet’s infrastructure by imposing fees for content coming into networks. The regulation of “access charges” as mandated in the treaty could also impose new fees on developing-world Internet users or result in them being deprived of content in a Balkanized Internet.
When I gave a talk a few months back at RMIT in Melbourne about how we engaged governments with policy-relevant research, a senior person in the audience said that we seemed to be having greater success in getting the government of Bangladesh to pay heed to evidence than they did in Australia. Proving him half right, the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission has convened a stakeholder meeting to obtain input for the country’s position at WCIT in Dubai. Now if the government actually votes against the ill-thought out proposals by the Arab and African states to impose access charges for Internet content, my Australian colleague will be proven 100% right. A recent report on the subject in Daily Star. Abu Saeed Khan, a senior policy fellow of Colombo-based think tank LIRNEasia, said the Bangladesh government has ignored the ITU’s directive that instructed it to consult the ITR issues with its citizens.
“Sahana software is being used to support the collection and fulfilment of requests for assistance and volunteers from the neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy: the Rockaways in Queens, Coney Island and Red Hook in Brooklyn, Staten Island and communities along the New Jersey coast. Sahana allows organizations to more effectively prioritize and dispatch resources to where they are needed most.” … click to read more. Sahana Software Foundation (SSF) is currently seeking funds to support the Hurricane Sandy relief operations in and around New York City, as well as to support other programs. SSF estimates a need of at least $40,000 to support Hurricane Sandy operations for three months.
Internet sprouts innovation and steers growth. Mankind has never been so passionately generous and caring for any technology. Vinton Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds, Salman Khan and others gave away their precious achievements to enrich Internet for universal good. Primarily a cheaper option to communicate has now become the unmatched driver of prosperity worldwide. Internet is the oxygen of global trade and commerce.
From months back LIRNEasia’s focus was on the economic aspects of the WCIT proposals, specifically the mad proposal floated by ETNO to impose access charges on data flowing into a network, the sending-party-network-pays principle. This is the real debate in Dubai according to even early apologists for the ITU. More energy is expected to be spent on how companies make money off the Internet. In one submission to the conference, the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association, a lobbying group based in Brussels that represents companies like France Télécom, Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, proposed that network operators be permitted to assess charges for content providers like Internet video companies that use a lot of bandwidth. Analysts say the proposal is an acknowledgment by European telecommunications companies that they cannot hope to provide digital content.
The ITU hobnobbing with ETNO in a joint Twitter-storm during early October had been a mystery until the WCITLeaks’ recent disclosure of a “confidential” document. It reveals that ITU’s senior management went for a two-day “retreat” at the pristine Domaine du Château de Penthes in Geneva during early September. That was exactly one month before staging the Twitter-storm. Besides assembling its entire hierarchy from worldwide, the jumpy ITU also invited (of course on hefty payments) professional public relations heavyweights to strategize its counteroffensive against the defenders of Internet. The leaked document, with typographic error in the second question bellow, nicely captures ITU’s high-speed of heartbeat: On the basis of the outputs of the preparatory process, which includes preliminary inputs from the regions, we can address the following questions: Where do we stand regarding the substance?
We have always been interested in how mobile technology can reduce the frictions of time and space and thereby improve the functioning of markets. If the market being improved is that for agri produce, there is no disagreement. Eliminating the middle (wo)man would call forth a wave of approbation. But in the case being reported, the demise of the middle (wo)man is being mourned. May be we will be not looked at as crazy when we talk about a continuing role for the middle (wo)man in agri markets.
For too long, the Internet of Things was something that was talked about in hyperbole at conferences and then forgotten. Now, finally, it is being operationalized. This particular account is of developments at GE. At Mount Sinai, patients get a black plastic wristband with a location sensor and other information. Similar sensors are on beds and medical equipment.
The 2012 UN e government survey is out. Sri Lanka is still second in the South Asian region, behind the Maldives. But its world ranking has slipped even further. Now it’s 115th. It was 111th in 2010.
Just a sample: The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), which represents the $100-billion IT and BPO industry, has strong views against the Internet governance model of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), but favours self-regulation. Its president Som Mittal says: “NASSCOM does not favour oversight by an existing U.N. organisation like ITU. Internet and infrastructure have to be in the hands of expert organisations with proven experience.
After some time, we at LIRNEasia are beginning to engage again with e gov, which I like to say is an acronym for effective government. So I came across this new service provided by the government of Saudi Arabia where male guardians are sent an SMS by the govt when their wives leave the country. Earlier, it had been necessary for permanently dependent females (i.e., all females) to carry with them a “yellow clip” wherein the guardian had consented to their departure.
This is a battle that was brewing. Mode 1 trade in services is when the supplier is in Country A, the buyer is in Country B and the transaction occurs over some means of communication, usually electronic. Given the costs of telecom these days, it really does not make sense to open warehouses/server farms in every country. So you have centralized means of delivering services that cross borders electronically (Google, for example) and one-way by post (e.g.
I had treated the claims by the Secretary General of the ITU that the ITU had facilitated the telecom boom with mild amusement. But in the context of the upcoming Dubai WCIT, amusement is not perhaps the best reaction. Let us begin with the actual claim on the ITU website, more nuanced than that of the Secretary General: While the ITRs were a compromise at the time, they turn out, in retrospect, to have been instrumental in facilitating continuing privatization and liberalization of telecommunications markets. These trends were further facilitated by agreements made in the Global Agreement on Trade in Services in 1994 (Annex on Telecommunications) and in 1996 (Reference Paper on Basic Telecommunications Services). The ITRs contained a key provision in Article 9, Special Arrangements.