2013


Greetings for 2014

Posted by on December 31, 2013  /  0 Comments

The past decade has seen unprecedented, rapid growth in electronic connectivity in the form of voice in the developing world. Access to the Internet and to more-than-voice services is quite uneven with those at the BOP being excluded from the benefits of the rich potential of applications and services associated with the Internet. The report is a part of LIRNEasia’s research into the exploration of how to bring about an increase the inclusivity of the currently marginalized BOP by providing more useful services and applications on mobile platforms. In terms of providing useful services, the research will focus on three sectors; telecom, electricity and government services. How can these services be more useful to particularly to the micro-entrepreneurs at the Bottom of the Pyramid?
In November 2013, the Myanmar Ministry of Communication and Information Technology called for comments on a set of draft rules that would govern the liberalized telecom sector. LIRNEasia submitted Comments on Draft Rules Dec 2013_1 covering all but one of the topics.
Contrary to the news report that I based my earlier post on, the Internet use data comes from a preliminary report of the 2011-12 Census. It is based on five percent of the responses from each district. Unfortunately, the data are presented in a somewhat confused way. The first column is simple enough: ability to access Internet from the house. The second column is the problem.
There was a time when voice telephony was seen as a public utility, requiring government involvement in supply. In most parts of the world, the end result was waiting lists and poor service. Now the same refrain is being sung re broadband. Why not take a look at Hong Kong? Here is where to start.
The full report of the 2012-13 Household Income and Expenditure Survey is not yet public, but LBO had got hold of the Internet data: About 11.4 percent of households in Sri Lanka have internet access at home, with 9.2 percent accessing through other means with communications centres were playing a key role, official data shows. The highest internet access was in the Colombo district at 26.9 percent of households with 15.

Lest we forget

Posted by on December 27, 2013  /  0 Comments

Silently crawling seawater soon turned in to a tide of mass destruction. Nearly quarter of a million loved ones were perished across the costs of Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004. The world was stunned by such an unprecedented scale of catastrophe. The rescuers’ power of love overpowered the devastation of tsunami. Hands of prayers are still being raised with tearful eyes and the hearts full of grief.

Anywhere but the USA?

Posted by on December 26, 2013  /  0 Comments

In a recent contribution to a just-published UNCTAD report on cloud computing we said: The other aspect of the problem is whether data are subject to the laws of the jurisdictions where the cloud computing companies are located. For example, take the case of a company in Country A using the services of a cloud computing supplier registered in Country B, which dynamically stores and processes the Country A firm’s data on server farms located in Countries C, D and E. Country A may not be happy to have the laws of Country B apply to the data and that its police may go trawling therein. The applicability of the laws of the country where the storage and processing occurred poses a new set of problems, because even determining which country has jurisdiction may be difficult in light of dynamic resource allocation. This was well before Snowden changed the entire discourse.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has been dictating the termination rate of international voice traffic. This foolish act has made bypass pervasive and unstoppable. Now BTRC has trespassed into the central bank’s domain to dictate the fees of mobile banking transactions. Even the central bank doesn’t dictate the costs of mobile banking transactions. The telecom regulator is, however, reluctant to recognize the market.
In September 2012, for the first time we explained to ESCAP the fragility of Internet in Asia. In response, the UN outfit had engaged Terabit Consulting to study the state of connectivity across Southeast Asia. The study found that Vietnam’s international connectivity is “Somewhat weak” at regional standard. It said more specifically: “Viet Nam’s submarine cable connectivity is significantly less than other Asian nations.” Last Friday (December 20) Vietnam’s Internet connectivity was shaken when its branching unit to the Asia America Gateway (AAG) was severed by the anchor of a ship.
Both the horses are to be similar in size and strength while pulling a carriage. That was missing between India’s Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and Reliance. As a result, Reliance has walked out of its rural mobile coverage project under the scheme of USOF. The issue dates back to 2007 when a scheme was launched under the USOF to provide subsidy support for setting up and managing 7,871 infrastructure sites, or telecom towers, in rural and remote areas in 500 districts of 12 states. RCOM and RTL had entered into an agreement with the USOF in June that year, under which they took responsibility for setting up nearly half of these towers.
Singer is synonymous with sewing machines. Like Xerox for photo copiers. And now Singer is selling more phones than sewing machines. And more smartphones than feature phones? Not quite yet.
Prof Hal Abelson of MIT recently shared his thoughts on privacy in the digital realm, at a online alumni webcast. Amongst the noise that one hears on this topic these days, his thoughtful comments resonated. Partly for sharing and partly for my own memory, I felt it justified a blog post and I capture his main points below: People don’t really know what they want when they think of privacy. They describe their privacy needs through use-case scenarios for e.g.
I am a fan of Mitchell Lazarus. This engineer-cum-lawyer, who is also a PhD in psychology, has brilliantly narrated the evolution of PSTN. He believes that regulating IP telephony is as challenging as “updating the rules of the road from horse-and-carriage traffic to modern automobiles.” It’s all about regulating the interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP services. There used to be a marked difference between the two: where interconnected VoIP needed no special skills, the typical non-interconnected VoIP customer was a highly computer-literate person with a headset plugged into a laptop.
I recently participated in a panel on “Big data in the telecommunications industry” at the 11th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS) held in Mexico from 4-6 December 2013. Going by the feedback from the Q&A session, two aspects rose to the front: Firstly the issue of “privacy” is on everybody’s mind going by the number of questions that came from the audience. Everybody seems to have his or her own viewpoint. UN Global Pulse, whilst acknowledging there are valid concerns that must be addressed (and they have a set of privacy guidelines for their own work) clearly doesn’t want the concerns to derail the efforts to utilize telecom network big data for social good. Telefonica, as an operator, was quick to point his or her own set of privacy guidelines that inform their big data work.
LIRNEasia was invited to participate in the symposium on Food System Innovation in South and Southeast Asia. The event was organised by the Michigan State University (MSU) and The Energy Resource Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India. The symposium largely featured research on climate change, population growth, irrigation, land use and agriculture innovations. These were drawn from the research done at the Global Center for Food Systems Innovations (GCFSI) at MSU and TERI. Experts from South and Southeast Asia were brought to shed light on the regional conditions.