2013 November


When US competition regulators turned down the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, many thought that would be the end of T-Mobile. Instead, it was the end of business as usual. T-Mobile branded and marketed all this as the “Un-carrier,” rolling out new versions of its plans — already five and counting — even as competitors have struggled to match the previous one. “Surprise is an effective competitive tactic,” Mr. Legere said.
A new robot equipped with multiple sensors that can collect information from its surroundings that can be matched against “big data” streams has been announced. The facts are interesting. Even more intriguing is the allusion to Minority Report. K5 also raises questions about mass surveillance, which has already set off intense debate in the United States and Europe with the expansion of closed-circuit television systems on city streets and elsewhere. The Knightscope founders, however, have a radically different notion, which involves crime prediction, or “precog” — a theme of the movie “Minority Report.
Big government administered projects always have a hard time getting rolling. Ask the Australians. We wish the Indian DoT the best in achieving incredible acceleration. The government has provided broadband connectivity to only 60 gram panchayats till now under the Rs 20,000 crore NOFN project, which has to cover 2.5 lakh panchayats by September 2015.
Under Sri Lanka’s law, if an operator goes out of business, the Director General of Telecom has to run it. This used to be one of my nightmares. I knew how to regulate, but did I know how to run a company? The Daily Star paints a grim picture of Citycell, a Bangladesh CDMA licensee. So grim that I should feel sorry about reiterating criticism of the discounting of their payments by the government when the licenses were up for renewal.
To me, the biggest question arising from the Snowdon affair is why everyone is acting so surprised. “Everyone was so focused on the N.S.A. secretly getting access to the front door that there was an assumption they weren’t going behind the companies’ backs and tapping data through the back door, too,” said Kevin Werbach, an associate professor at the Wharton School.
The much anticipated Myanmar Telecommunications Law (Law 13 of 2013) was approved by both houses of the Myanmar Legislature and was given Presidential assent. Our analysis of the law is not yet complete, but here are some first thoughts: There is considerable and unnecessary overlap of powers and functions between the Ministry and Department. Positioning the Ministry as the authority to appeal departmental decisions may make it the de facto regulator. This goes beyond the usual concern about the Ministry also having responsibility for the incumbent operator MPT. The explicit authority given to the Ministry to clarify technical terms in the law appears to position it as a supra regulator even after the promised creation of the independent regulatory authority.
I keep telling people that I (and the people associated with reforms in South Asia in the late 1990s) had no expectation that we would achieve the levels of voice and data connectivity that we have now achieved. But here is the proof, from a piece I gave to UNESCO while still Director General of Telecommunications back in 1999. In most countries of the South, basic telecommunication connectivity is still a distant goal, leave alone the advanced Internet infrastructure that provides the basis for electronic commerce. Electronic transactions between companies and organizations, particularly those involved in worldwide commercial relationships, do take place within the context of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). However, these closed user systems do not fall within the commonly understood meaning of electronic commerce that involves transactions with consumers in an open system such as the Internet.
Even when one disagrees with a speaker, one can learn from the engagement. I enjoyed myself at the talk given by Futurist Gerd Leonhard at ITU Telecom World, partly because I was actively engaging his stream of consciousness by tweeting. One thing I agreed fully with was his emphasis on trust: As the tweet said: “If you are in ICT Business & don’t have trust, you will be out of business in 5 yrs. Futurist at #ituworld” This caused me to dig through some old writing. Here is what wrote back in 1999 in a UNESCO publication: The overall environment of a society has an impact on how its members approach electronic commerce.
Earlier this year, LIRNEasia provided formal inputs to the public hearing on the electricity tariffs held by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL). None of our recommendations were reflected in the outcome of that process, but we were happy to see subsequent actions by the PUCSL reflecting them. We were also pleased to see some of our ideas reflected in a speech by the Leader of the Opposition. The recent report indicating that the Ceylon Electricity Board has not only eliminated losses, but has shown profits appears to indicate that our predictions were right: d. The cost models that underlie the tariff proposal are based on assumptions of levels of use that may change because of the radical redesign of the tariff structure.
Not the most perfect summary, since I did the interview with half my mind on the need to get to the airport in time for my flight out.
It all triggered when Dr. Alvin Marcelo, a long standing friend and fellow e-Health Researcher, sent me an email asking whether we could activate Sahana to assist them. These where his first words, “How unlucky can we be — in just a matter of weeks, we have another disaster“ Since then, Sahana volunteers have put in hundreds of hours setting up the system, doing data import and cleansing, and working with contacts to prepare a system that will be of use.  We need to raise money in order to sustain these efforts and to cover the costs we have already committed for hosting and development. Sahana fund raising campaign on Razoo A brief update and summary on our activities to support relief operations for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and to ask for your assistance.
With the rise in smart phones (particularly on the Android platform) it makes sense to have an app to test, either deliberately or by having it run in the background, the speed, latency and packet loss (among others) that your mobile broadband connection offers. The FCC has done just that. With the hope of having a large number of people in the United States downloading and running the app multiple times a day, that will normalize anomalies, the NY Times also reports that it will allow the commission to aggregate data about broadband speeds from consumers across the country. It will use the data to create an interactive map, giving consumers a tool to use in comparison shopping rather than relying on wireless companies’ promises. LIRNEasia’s sister organisation Research ICT Africa (RIA) is also using a similar app developed by Georgia Tech called MySpeedNet.
It appears users of Kangaroo cabs don’t need to worry about having enough cash in their wallets.  At least, with a credit card they don’t need to worry about cash.  Starting this month, users are able to pay taxi-fare using a credit card. The taxi driver will swipe the passenger’s credit card on a small gadget attached to his smart phone, the payment receipt will be sent as an SMS to the user’s phone (the person who is making the transaction will have to give the mobile number to the driver). The device is called MoMo.
My work on privacy in the 1990s greatly benefited from my teaching. My classes were like laboratories where we tested out scenarios and concepts. I (and my students) also engaged with science fiction. I still talk about the extraordinarily powerful, low-tech surveillance techniques described by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale. That was brought to me by a student.
In the academic world, they count publications to measure effort. Then they count citations to measure effectiveness. There is no habit of citing research in government. But we got lucky. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had commissioned the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to work up a Decadel Report.
I touched on this issue at the cloud computing session at IGF 2013 in Bali. The scandal of NSA and CIA spying is likely to do serious damage to US firms. I for one do not place much faith in the good behavior of any government and do not see much point in simply replacing American companies with non-American. The backlash against government Internet surveillance could hurt the United States economy, partly because businesses and consumers could abandon United States cloud companies, said Richard Salgado, the director for law enforcement and information security at Google, in testimony before the Senate judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law. He cited studies like one from Forrester that predicted the cloud computing industry could lose $180 billion, 25 percent of its revenue, by 2016.
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