2015 January


I was reading the 2014 Annual Report of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, where on page 37 the PTA reports that international calls being terminated on Pakistani mobile networks has decreased dramatically since 2011-12, from 10.8 billion minutes to 5.6 billion minutes in 2013-14. The PTA even says that “one view is that this is due to the introduction of the International Clearing House (ICH).” But no reaching of the obvious conclusion: abolish the ICH and stop playing ineffective cartel manager.
It’s interesting that Chinese Internet users have to protest the blocking of what I thought would be illegal workarounds. But earlier this week, after a number of V.P.N. companies, including StrongVPN and Golden Frog, complained that the Chinese government had disrupted their services with unprecedented sophistication, a senior official for the first time acknowledged its hand in the attacks and implicitly promised more of the same.
I had seen the draft, but as with all UN organizations it took some time for the official text to be published. By that time, we had moved on, and it did not make the blog. But here are the operative paragraphs of the outcome document of the Paro Meeting on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway: Call on Asia-Pacific regional cooperation organisations, including subregional organizations such as BIMSTEC and ECO, and regional policy think tanks such as LIRNEasia, to facilitate regional cooperation in ICT infrastructure and promote regional connectivity as a regional public good, Request all regional cooperation organisations in Asia and the Pacific, especially BIMSTEC and ECO to actively facilitate the regional cooperation in ICT infrastructure and promote regional connectivity as a regional public good and as well as an integral component of regional integration process in its respective regions, Agree to propose to the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology and Committee on Transport at their fourth sessions, respectively that, through its relevant working groups, ESCAP’s intergovernmental agreements make provisions for the synchronized deployment of infrastructure along transport networks, Further agree to support at the fourth session of the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology, on […]
The general tone of writing on the on-demand economy (much better term than the “sharing economy”) is one of regret about the demise of steady work with benefits, exemplified by Robert Reich: “I think it’s nonsense, utter nonsense. This on-demand economy means a work life that is unpredictable, doesn’t pay very well and is terribly insecure.” But we’re talking about people whose work life is unpredictable, doesn’t pay very well and is terribly insecure to start with. For them, the on-demand economy is step up, especially if they can be connected to export supply chains using the disruptive potential of ICTs. Just as Uber is doing for taxis, new technologies have the potential to chop up a broad array of traditional jobs into discrete tasks that can be assigned to people just when they’re needed, with wages set by a dynamic measurement of supply and demand, and every worker’s performance constantly tracked, reviewed and subject to the sometimes harsh light of customer satisfaction.
This is a problem that comes up in countries that LIRNEasia works in. In Bangladesh and India, where the government-owned telcos were not privatized, they are on life support. Based possibly on comments made by entities such as LIRNEasia, the government of Myanmar has chosen to effectively hand over the management of its government-owned telco to KDDI. Here is a discussion of the problem in general terms, discussed in the Sri Lankan media in the context of the good governance debate that is running through the country in the aftermath of the recent Presidential election: Is the Government willing to list a majority of the commercial organisations it owns in the stock market? Is it willing to allow the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) to divest or acquire shares in the market as needed?
National Safety Day was somewhat overshadowed by floods and an election. Yet, LIRNEasia and its partner Sarvodaya pulled together a good exhibit. The judges have selected our exhibit as one of the top three. As a reward we have been offered an educational trip to Bangkok. Someone from Sarvodaya will make the trip.
This used to be seen as a challenge. Now it’s “same old, same old.” The social network, which makes most of its money by including advertising in the news feeds of its users, said about 69 percent of its advertising revenue came from mobile devices, which have become the most common way people tap into the service. Facebook reported that it had 1.39 billion monthly users worldwide in December, up 3.
The Philippines Senate conducted its 4th public hearing on the Philippine internet, where the National Telecom Commission presented the summary of the position papers it received on MC 07-07-2011 on minimum broadband connection speeds. The photo shows Senator Bam Aquino (right) and government officials, including NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba and ICTO Deputy Executive Director Denis Villorente on the left. Comm. Cordoba personally approached LIRNEasia Research Fellow Grace Mirandilla-Santos to say that they really liked LIRNEasia’s comments, and that he would like to discuss our proposal further. There will be a 2nd NTC hearing on broadband QoS on 16 Feb 2015, which Grace plans to attend.
The Lankadeepa, the leading Sinhala newspaper in Sri Lanka, has reported a speech by Dr Ranga Kalansooriya at a recent event on media ethics organized by the Sri Lanka Press Institute, where he claims that a survey covering 14 out of the 25 districts showed very high levels of reliance on the Internet for political news. Of those who had changed their views on who to vote for President, 59 per cent had done so based on TV; while 31 percent did so because of Internet content. Only one percent of those changing their stance had done so because of print media Somewhat ironically, the SLPI has not posted any information related to the event on its website. Hopefully, more information about this survey will be forthcoming.
The conventional telcos were complaining that the Googles and the Facebooks of the world (labeled by them as Over-the-Top or OTT players) were unfairly getting a free ride on the expensive, difficult-to-maintain last mile access network. Bharti Airtel went as far as unilaterally seeking to identify such uses by their customers and to impose additional charges on them. They backed off in the face of widespread protests, but they said that they expected the regulator to “level the playing field.” Now it looks like their complaints may be getting a response from a different quarter. If the Googles and the Facebooks of the world provide connectivity directly to their users, the old boys will have nothing to complain about.
How do YOU think? We tell ourselves that when people are faced with making a decision, they would make reasonable, well informed and carefully thought out decisions. Oftentimes, we think (unconsciously of course) that other people think in the same way that we ourselves do. But for the vast majority of time, this is just not how it works. The latest World Development Report explains the three principles of human decision making: thinking automatically, thinking socially, and thinking with mental models.
SEA-ME-WE4, the only submarine cable of Bangladesh, has been down again for 10 days. This outage has affected the business of BSCCL, the state-owned subsea cable monopoly. Doug Madory of Dyn Research, the global Internet performance monitor company, has shared with me the diagnostic image of BSCCL traffic (Click on the thumbnail). Evidently the six cross-border terrestrial operators of Bangladesh have been keeping Internet alive via India. There is, however, a huge risk.
It appears that getting sites to build towers is one of the biggest barriers to rapid rollout of mobile networks in Myanmar. One operator, MPT, has an advantage in that it owns land in all major population centers. The claim that they are examining tower quality before offering sharing is one that I would take with a grain of salt, were I the regulator. The sooner the assessments are completed, the easier life will be for its competitors. So I can imagine the priority being given to this task.

MNP is no silver bullet

Posted by on January 19, 2015  /  1 Comments

One of the problems with social media is that no one reads beyond the 140 characters. I was asked about mobile number portability via Twitter. I provided the information via links in a blog post and then tweeted the post. I get the sense that no one went to the nuances. I am good at summarizing, but cannot give the true pros and cons in 140 characters.
We have been requested via social media to shed light on MNP, I gather in light of various dissatisfactions about what all ISPs did in terms of blocking websites in the past few years. Attachment to the number, the costs involved in printing up new business cards, etc were seen by many in the West as a barrier to customers changing from one operator to another. There are instances when we have unequivocally recommended MNP. But as a general rule, one has to weigh the pros and cons. This slideset is the most comprehensive I could find, though it was worked up for small economies where the economic case for MNP is much harder.
Five years ago, our Lead Consultant Economist, Dr Harsha de Silva, entered Parliament as an opposition national-list MP. For those unfamiliar with idiosyncrasies of Sri Lankan politics, that is an MP without constituency responsibilities who is appointed by a political party based on the contribution he/she may make to legislative or executive functions. Without doubt, Harsha was one of the best national-list MPs in the 14th Parliament. In the early years, he continued to engage in research-related activities sometimes on behalf of LIRNEasia and sometimes on his own. Few years back, his party made him a constituency organizer which left him little time for research.
  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2