2015 March


Lokanathan, S & Gunaratne, R. L.
Last year, I was in Dili, Timor Leste, listening to an event on big data that was partially sponsored by SciDev, a respected science communication organization. My recollection is that the speakers were talking about work done by others based on reports. So we were happy to have our research featured in an article in SciDev. The author, Nalaka Gunawardene, attended our presentation at the Sri Lanka Institute of Engineers in January and made further efforts to understand what we were doing. MNBD allows tracking and mapping of daily changes in population densities relative to midnight (‘home location’).
Last week in Bangkok (23-26th March, 2015), at the invitation of the UN Development Group (UNDG) Asia-Pacific Secretariat, I had the opportunity to brief country heads and senior staff of UN agencies as well as from the Resident Coordinator’s office on how to leverage big data, for the data revolution needed to measure the progress in achieving the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event was the Lessons Learnt Workshop for Countries Designing UN Strategic Development Frameworks (UNDAF) in 2015. 13 countries were represented: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, DPRK, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The key point that I left with them was that National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) in developing economies are not yet set up to be the key champion for leveraging big data for development, let alone to certify standards. The UN’s role in my opinion was: to inform and catalyze the in-country discussions with examples from other countries.
LIRNEasia research fellow and board member of the Internet Society PH chapter, Grace Mirandilla-Santos participated in a roundtable discussion on the “Right to Access the Internet: Upholding a Human Right” organized by Democracy.net.ph (Philippines) and the Digital Empowerment Foundation (India). Her talk mentioned LIRNEasia’s broadband QoSE study and how its results have been used to inform policymaking and regulation in PH. This was in the context of telcos providing internet access but at what cost and level of quality (value for money).
We’ve been excited for some time about the energy and enthusiasm in the start-up space in Myanmar for some time. But it is still great to see the country and its young people gain the attention of the Economist. Still, a few firms have begun to blossom since its ruling generals began opening up the economy in 2011. Back then, less than 1% of Burmese people could access the internet. But with wireless towers now popping up across the country, the government thinks 80% of citizens may have a mobile phone with a data connection by 2016.
The 4-day residential course on ‘How to Engage in Broadband Policy and Regulatory Processes’ is currently held in Nagarkot, Nepal (28th – 31st March 2015). The slide sets of the sessions and reading materials of the event could be accessed through this link.
Much of our work on infrastructure policy and regulation deals with safeguards for investment. Uncertainty around investments is reduced when international arbitration is permitted. With many governments from the developed-market economies, the US government has been a strong supporter of international arbitration. But when it looks like these safeguards apply to their own country, they are unhappy. “This is really troubling,” said Senator Charles E.
In a previous post I wrote about there being more Facebook users than Internet users in South East Asia. I also said that this was not the case in South Asia. But I was wrong. I had relied on data from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It was only recently that I looked at the data for Nepal.
A four-day course on broadband policy and regulation for Nepali participants commences in Nagarkot on the 28th of March. The course is the fourth in the series supported by Ford Foundation, and the first to be held outside India. It is co-organized with the Internet Society Nepal. The course seeks to enable members of Nepalese civil-society groups (including academics and those from the media) to marshal available research and evidence for effective participation in broadband policy and regulatory processes including interactions with media, thereby facilitating and enriching policy discourse on means of increasing broadband access by the poor. Five assignments form the centerpiece of the learning activities.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) held their very first stakeholder forum in Asia today, in Yangon, Myanmar. The forum was richly attended by Government, Civil Society, Mobile Service Providers, Media and Researchers. LIRNEasia was also invited to attend, as an important player in Myanmar’s ICT area. The forum was graced briefly by the Hon. Deputy Minister of Communication and Information Technology U.
Myanmar is called the last greenfield of telecommunications. There is a great deal of interest in the country, which has one of the lowest rates of mobile phone penetrations in the world. Yet with two private mobile phone giants entering the market in 2014, the commodity has become as commonplace here as it is anywhere else in the world. Earlier this month, I travelled through urban and rural Myanmar for 5 full days. Wherever I looked, the presence of mobile phone technology was glaring.
LIRNEasia has been invited in the past to comment on and make suggestions on how to enhance the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s (A4AI) Affordability Index. Our latest contributions were made in preparation to the recent launch of the report that took place at the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress. Affordability is essentially an objective measure of the cost of a good or service in relation on one’s income. When subjective angles such as the availability (not necessarily the effectiveness) of national broadband plans, universal service funds, spectrum allocation strategies and so on are introduced it muddies the water. While the Affordability Index takes in to account a number of viable indicators, it also looks at many others that muddy the waters.
The review is that of an Internet Society report by Michael Kende and Karen Rose, based on evidence from Rwanda. The objective of this study is to understand the impact of content hosting decisions (within the country vs. overseas), as well as to develop a practical guide on creating an attractive enabling environment for hosting content locally. The paper defines and discusses the difference of locally relevant content and locally hosted content in Rwanda. Locally relevant content has proved to be aa factor that increases the overall use of the Internet in many economies studied by the Internet Society.
Kreindler, G. & Miyauchi, Y.
Today I had the opportunity to speak to a mostly private sector audience in Tokyo, looking to leverage opportunities from geo-spatial information. The venue was at the G-Space x ICT International Symposium organized by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the apex body responsible for ICT policy in Japan. I was invited to speak about LIRNEasia’s experience in leveraging mobile network big data for public purposes. In the subsequent panel discussion, I was asked how to enable international collaboration in such efforts. My answer was two part: the very realizable possibility of sharing technical know-how both in developing human capacity as well as the infrastructure required to analyze such data sets; and the potentially long path that must be walked to enable greater sharing of such data.
Not bad for a young industry. But I do hope the results of the survey will be disclosed quickly and with breakdowns of export and domestic earnings and employment. Last time it had to be extracted in dribs and drabs. “Sri Lanka has launched an ICT value survey to find the national hi-tech exports it achieved in 2013/14.” the minister said in a statement.
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