2013 February


Thomas K Thomas has been covering Indian telecom issues for a long time. His reflections on the lessons that need to be learned from Indian spectrum policy since 1994 are worth a read: Back in 1994, when telecom licences were given out for the first time, a flawed auction design allowed non-serious players to bid astronomical sums and then default on payments. In 2002, operators were given additional spectrum on subscriber-linked criteria without any upfront fee. This was the first time anywhere in the world spectrum was given based on number of subscribers. In 2008, the then telecom minister A.
I should not have been surprised, but I was. In the course of the Asia Pacific Summit session that I was moderating the Chief Strategy Officer of Indosat, Prashant Gokarn, said that they are no longer keeping 30% of earnings from apps, but giving pretty much everything to the developers. We can make our money on data, he said. I asked, is this just you? Supun Weerasinghe, Chief Stategy Officer at Axiata, said, no.
The government of Myanmar has received 91 expressions of interest for telecom licenses. We were not surprised when the number hit 18, but 91? Now the question, according to Bloomberg, is how to narrow down the field in the next two stages, down to two: Rules for the second stage, where bidders eligible for the third and final stage will be determined, will be provided “in coming weeks,” according to last week’s statement. “Having prior emerging market experience should be beneficial, along with the ability to deploy capital, relationships with the equipment vendors or handset procurement,” Gupta said. “Reforms in the telephony sector are critical for overall development and progress, so they will need to be mindful of security and social issues too.
Nalaka Gunawardene, a friend and colleague, has provided an overview of the hazards posed by near-earth objects. Thousands of pieces of cosmic debris enter our atmosphere every day — most are burned up before hitting the ground (producing harmless ‘shooting stars’). Larger pieces that crash-land are called meteorites. Even then, average ones are too small to cause much damage. Once in a while, a large enough piece comes along — as did on February 15 – which can be an asteroid or part of a comet.
The country with the worst ICT connectivity happens to be in our region, the Asia Pacific. But Google’s Eric Schmidt, again demonstrating the value of engagement, appears to have opened the door another few milimeters, according to IHT: North Korea will finally allow Internet searches on mobile devices and laptops. But if you’re a North Korean, you’re out of luck — only foreigners will get this privilege. Cracking the door open slightly to wider Internet use, the government will allow a company called Koryolink to give foreigners access to 3G mobile Internet service by March 1, The Associated Press reported. The decision, announced Friday, comes a month after Google’s chairman, Eric E.
Alan Westin’s book “Privacy and Freedom” was published in 1967. He could have rested on his many laurels. But he did not. He engaged with the privacy issues of today: In recent years, Mr. Westin turned his attention to the Niagara of personal data loosed by Google, Facebook and their ilk.
Universal access was discussed in “Networking Revolution: Opportunities and Challenges for Developing Countries” of the World Bank in June 2000 as follows: In low-income countries, however, the focus should be on providing public access to services. The only realistic objective in the short term is therefore to achieve “universal access”, whereby everyone would be able to access a public booth in every town, village or vicinity or within “reasonable” distance. What “reasonable” distance actually means, what services are to be provided at every public booth (telephone, e-mail, real-time Internet), and which of these services are appropriate at what level in the hierarchy of towns and villages, will very much vary from one country to another, depending on potential demand and ability to pay for these services. The scale at present runs from access to 2 Mbps high-speed Internet lines for every home in Korea to a telephone within (distant) walking distance in some African countries. That was 13 years ago.
On 27th of February, I will be moderating a panel discussion following key notes by Chairman BTRC Sunil Kanti Bose and Minister of ICT Indonesia Titaful Sembiring. Should prove intersting. Asia Pacific Regional Summit 2013 Leveraging the New Mobile Horizon – Connecting Asia through Mobile 09:00 – 12:30, Wednesday 27 February 2013, Auditorium 1, Hall 8.0, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona 09:00 – 09:05 WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION Irene Ng, Head of Asia, GSMA SESSION 1: DEVELOPING ASIA PACIFIC 09:05 – 09:45 KEYNOTES Preparing for a new age of connectivity in Bangladesh Sunil Kanti Bose, Chairman, BTRC Driving innovation in ICT throughout Indonesia to support the country’s economic growth H.E.
LTE (aka 4G) is manifolds faster than UMTS (aka 3G). That doesn’t mean the governments can make more money from auctioning LTE spectrum. Her Majesty’s government, which had forked £22.5 billion from UMTS auction 12 years back, knows it. Yet the British Finance Minister, George Osborne, targeted £3.
GSMA Mobile World Congress has become the preeminent international event in telecom. A Government Mobile Forum is held as part of it. I have been asked to moderate two sessions, the first being described below. It will be held on the morning of 26th February in Barcelona. I look forward to it.
ComScore has published its tech predictions. It’s all about mobile. The mobile transition is happening astonishingly quickly. Last year, smartphone penetration crossed 50 percent for the first time, led by Android phones. People spend 63 percent of their time online on desktop computers and 37 percent on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, according to comScore.
One of the great ironies of the present discourse on Internet/broadband is the appointment of Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s richest man and possibly the single most significant barrier to greater Internet access in Latin America, to serve as the Co-Chair of the ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission. It is widely recognized that Telmex exerts significant market power to keep prices up, users out, and its profits high. I co-authored a few pieces on Mexico’s early reforms in the 1990s so I have some knowledge of the subject. Now the government has set its sights on telecoms. According to Aurelio Nuño, the president’s chief of staff, within two months the PRI will present a bill to attack the “great problem of concentration” in telephony, internet and television.
What we noticed in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was the randomness of the damage. Houses that were right next to each other were affected differently: one destroyed another untouched. This was supposed to be caused by the complex interaction of the wave and the topography of the coast. In the case of the meteor hit that affected the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk, the damage has also been random according to reports. Sometimes with glass containers within a home damaged while the windows were not.
Information and communication technology causes unprecedented consequences. It knits the networks of people who challenge the establishment, as the printing press of Gutenberg did to the Vatican. Church is no longer the crucible of political power. But few years back Father Federico Lombardi, the outgoing Pope’s spokesman, has tested the water by warning “of the corrupting influence of mobile phones and the internet on our souls.”  He is not alone.
In April 2012, LIRNEasia participated in a regional FAO workshop held in Bangkok. The workshop brought together representatives from the agriculture ministries/ departments of 10 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam), FAO personnel as well as the private sector, including operators of Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS). The official workshop proceedings are now available, with a chapter dedicated to LIRNEasia’s survey findings on the use of ICTs by the BOP. The report articulates the need for clear policies and the benefits of public-private partnerships in creating viable, sustainable and importantly reliable Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS-s).
I’ve been thinking about big data and privacy these days. I used to think about this subject a lot in the early 1990s. Back then I did not have a lot of company. But now, there is plenty. But as I read what is being written, I worry.
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