2015 February

Haven’t had time to analyze this election promise, so was very happy to see a CPRsouth alumnus take an excellent run at it. Usually, these free Wi-Fi services have lower speeds compared to the average home connection, and often come with a data or a time cap. Perth, for example, offers free public Wi-Fi in a certain area, with a limit of 50MB per connection. Do your stuff, and then get out of the way; let the next user in. Effective, intelligent limiting is one solution.
The situations in the US and our countries are very different: we have more competition at the access-network level, we have more people who are not connected and our retail pricing schemes are more rational. But it’s illuminating that the FCC is not as excited about zero rating as some other people: Under the FCC’s newly approved net neutrality rules, wireless carriers and other ISPs will not have to go the agency and ask permission every time they want to introduce a new offering or mobile broadband plan, such as a new zero-rating plan, according to FCC officials. The FCC adopted three so-called “bright line” rules for net neutrality: no blocking of legal content; no throttling of Internet traffic on the basis of content; and no paid prioritization of content. For everything not covered by those rules, the FCC approved a catchall “standard for future conduct,” which will used to ensure that broadband providers are not “unreasonably interfering with or unreasonably disadvantaging” the ability of consumers and content providers to use the Internet and connect to each other. Future practices will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
I’m pretty sure we (LIRNEasia and RIA) were the only ones to have asked this question in Asia and Africa. Finally, surveys conducted in Africa and Asia found that more than half of the people that weren’t on the Internet didn’t know what it was. The Report. But I do not think the “more than half” is very accurate. This kind of thing happens when people write on the basis of other reports of research without going to the source.
At the end of its First Quarter of operations, Telenor Myanmar reported 3.4 million subscribers. That’s a hefty number, given Ooredoo had a head start and MPT also got energized during that time. But the real story is that 40 percent of that number (1.36 million) were daily active data users.
Internet.org, Facebook’s effort to give people free Internet (or at least 38 websites and services that do not include Google) was launched earlier this month. This has resulted in a quantum leap in discussions of various aspects of net neutrality, including ones that connect the debate in the rich countries to our reality that is dominated by people who has no access to Internet of any kind. Here is a good example. The critical question is “who is the target user of Internet.
A “New Mobile Weather Stations”, notably made from local parts, fast delivers the rainfall forecast to the Sri Lankan farmers through text messages. It alerts them six hours ahead of excessive rain. That’s good enough for the farmers to take precaution. This device costs only $250 as opposed to $10,000 for standard mobile weather stations. And man behind the machine is Yann Chemin, a researcher of International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
One of the most important ways by which research influences policy is for the researcher to become a policy maker. In 2006-07 Harsha de Silva was leading LIRNEasia’s ag info research. As Deputy Minister for Planning and Economic Affairs, this is what he’s telling audiences now: Farmers are not poor because they don’t get the subsidy, farmers are poor because their agricultural markets are not working. There is no way in which officials can sit in the food department and solve the problems of the volatility of the prices in vegetables. It can never be done.
Here are some more stories. In Romanian, I think. And in German. Serbian, I think. In Bahasa Indonesia, where the story started.
This story has legs. Someone has riffed off the Quartz story. Report.
Discussions on net neutrality usually generate more heat than light. Based on her star turn at IGF 2014 in Istanbul where she sought to bring data from the trenches to the soaring abstractions that characterise the debate, LIRNEasia CEO has been invited to speak at a high-profile panel in Barcelona. The panel description.
This is a first for us. Our findings on Facebook users > Internet users in some countries that was reported in Quartz has been translated into Arabic and published by Al Jazeera. It’s not like anyone at LIRNEasia reads Arabic, but we were alerted to this by the kind folk at IDRC.
Demand-side surveys add tremendous value in many areas of research; Assessing Quality of Service (QoS) for mobile, fixed and broadband services isn’t one of them. Certainly not when it involves a perception survey. The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) attempts to understand the user satisfaction of availability and QoS for mobile cellular, fixed and broadband services. QoS is an objective measure whereas customer satisfaction surveys are subjective. Therefore, more technical QoS measures such as network availability, performance (not further defined by TRAI) and reliability cannot simply be assessed the same way in which complaint redressal, for instance, would be.
NTC conducted a second public hearing on its proposed memorandum circular on broadband QoS. LIRNEasia Research Fellow, Grace Mirandilla-Santos reiterated LIRNEasia’s recommendations that diagnostics should take into consideration consumer experience, must be transparent and results published in a format that consumers can understand and use, should help inform consumers’ decisions when availing of services (e.g., publishing average or typical speeds per ISP per city). Her recommendations have been seconded by Senator Bam Aquino.
First results from Telenor Myanmar, from Telecom Paper. Telenor ended its first quarter in Myanmar with 3.406 million mobile customers. The new mobile operator generated NOK 287 million in revenues in Q4 2014 and an EBITDA loss of NOK 248 million. It spent NOK 598 million in Q4 and NOK 4.
Online edition of The Atlantic has reproduced the piece of Leo Mirani that refers to LIRNEasia’s 2012 findings on Internet being eclipsed by Facebook. Jonathan Zittrain of MIT has posted this article on his Facebook page. And that is the beauty of a good research.
Yesterday, I was the only non-politician on a political debate show on TV known as “Satana” (battle). The topic was the new President’s/government’s 100 Day Program (of which more than one-third has passed). I was not expecting to talk about the taxes imposed on the mobile industry, but right in the middle, one of the “referees” asked me about one of the three (or two, depending on the company size) taxes imposed on the mobile operators. I briefly answered saying it was not a good idea since its retroactive and mobile-specific nature was likely to have the effect of depressing investment that was needed if Sri Lanka is to move to the next stage of connectivity beyond voice. I had taken this position without any serious pushback in other media since shortly after the interim budget was announced.