2017 September


The significance of opinion leaders and influentials seeing how life is in other countries is under-appreciated. Around 2000, because of my expertise, I started representing Myanmar at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on technological matters. As I traveled, I saw that neighboring countries were surpassing us. Once, in Cambodia, when I spotted a taxi driver with a cell phone, I thought, “A taxi driver isn’t supposed to have that!” I was also one of the first people in Myanmar to get the internet, and I realized that with just a few clicks, a kid from here could have the same access as one in Silicon Valley.
Galpaya, H.G, Senanayake, D. L, Suthaharan, P. Exploring the challenges faced by Sri Lankan workers in web-based digital labour platforms, CPRsouth 2017, August, 2017.
We have not worked on mobile money in Myanmar. But now that mobile penetration is quite high, time is ripe for mobile financial services. Here is a description of the challenges: The biggest challenge for anyone in this business is the distribution network. Myanmar is such a big country. We’re now in about 70% of townships around the country – to get around and actually see where our outlets are, it’s a lot of travel.
ICTs are what make today’s complex global value chains and global production networks possible. It is the reduction of transaction costs (a central element in many of LIRNEasia’s research projects) that has made these new ways of organizing production emerge. Therefore, I write and talk about GPNs and GVCs. This coming Friday, 29th September, I’ll be speaking on this and participating in a panel discussion at 1800 hrs at Galadari Hotel. The event is organized by the Market Alumni Association.
There was a big kerfuffle about China banning Whatsapp. But when Saudi Arabia did the “beheading” in 2013, much less outrage. Oh well. It helps when you have driven expectation down to the negative range. But anyway, they seem to have figured that there’s a downside in not having these services.
We like to engage with National Statistical Offices. Because they have data we can use and population frames that make our surveys possible. Also because we believe we can help them understand the true potential of big data to complement old style data they’ve been working with for years. Why us? There are plenty of people with slide decks on big data.
Helani Galpaya and Peter Cihon were interviewed on their work on user perspectives on zero-rated content in Myanmar. The article draws on findings from both Mozilla commissioned qualitative research, as well the nationally representative surveys on ICT use and information needs. “In Myanmar and a lot of developing countries, Facebook is the internet, whether it’s free or not,” Galpaya said. Cihon noted that in some cases, Telenor Free users don’t distinguish between Facebook and the rest of the internet. They can access the full range of the social media platform’s features, and because Facebook is a dominant force in the country, people don’t feel incentivized to look for other resources.
The decision of a significant court case with relevance to regulatory practice was issued recently. The Chairman and Director General of the Sri Lanka Telecom Regulatory Commission were sentenced to jail and were required to pay substantial fines after being found guilty of criminally misappropriating USD 3.9 million from the stand-alone fund of the Commission. Because this is of relevance to regulatory practice, I wrote up a short note and am thinking of fleshing it out as a journal article. Suggestions and comments are welcome.
Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius have confirmed the completion of 6,600km-long (4,100 miles) subsea cable construction. It spans from Virginia Beach, USA to Bilbao, Spain reaching depths of 11,000 feet below the surface. The cable named Marea, which means tide in Spanish, is the highest capacity cable to cross the Atlantic, offering up to 160Tbps. It is expected to be operational by early 2018. Read more.
Perera-Gomez, T. & Lokanathan, S.
The Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU - BDT) took a significant step towards more inclusive ICT price basket (IPB) benchmarking methodology, last week. All member states will adopt the methodology in 2018. Our research manager Shazna Zuhyle led the sub-group which presented the recommendations at the Expert Group for ICT Indicators (EGTI) meeting in Geneva. 
India cannot advance from 1st place. So they should be happy about their place in the AT Kearney Index. Just a few years ago, I was asking what the Government of Bangladesh could do to get on the Index. Not only are they on it, they are advancing. Sri Lanka can be happy about advancing 3 places.
A team of GIS experts at LIRNEasia is building an open re-demarcation tool to encourage trust in the process of electoral reforms.
Serious efforts are being made in India to move people away from cash. When I was changing money at Chennai airport for a two-day visit, they foisted a debit card on me. But tourists are a minuscule part of the Indian market. It appears there will be a lot of innovation and competition in that space: The launch of Tez sees Google compete with payment services already available from mobile operators, traditional finance providers, e-Commerce companies and mobile wallet specialist firms including Paytm – which so far has 200 million users. Additionally, chat apps with huge user-bases are at various stages of entering the fray.
I was pleased to that the journalist had chosen to report on how we obtained the data on the massive amounts of money lying fallow in government accounts. More researchers should consider using RTI requests to obtain data. “The money has been collected, and it’s in the Treasury not being spent,” LIRNEasia Chairman Professor Rohan Samarajiva said at the 2nd Sri Lanka Broadband Forum organized by the Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Ministry and Huawei. According to Telecommunications Regulatory Commission data he obtained through a Right to Information request, the government had collected US$351 million by the end of 2015. Sri Lanka’s Universal Service Fund is less burdensome on telecom companies—compared to other countries where a fee is levied from annual revenue—since just US$ 0.
Regulatory staff: Compensation & career development Rohan Samarajiva Course on Regulatory Design and Practice Nay Pyi Taw September 2017