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Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

The next generation innovates with apps

The New York Times carries this fascinating story about Hike, a new app that is being driven by Sunil Mittal’s son. Those who consider every smartphone app as a mortal threat to the telecom business should read this. In a first for messaging apps, Hike allows its users to send free text messages to people […]

Reflecting on Minister Prasad’s mobile centric approach to Digital India

Governments provisioning e government services have to address two specific policy principles with regard to infrastructure: ensure universal access to their services and assure a higher level of reliability than with comparable private services. I will leave the second principle for later discussion. Unlike a decade or so ago, governments today do not have to […]

Mobile at the center of Modi administration’s digital strategy

It appears that unlike the previous government that was not of one mind regarding the centrality of mobiles, the new government has accepted it. The Digital India project that aims to offer a one-stop shop for government services would use the mobile phone as the backbone of its delivery mechanism. The government hopes the Rs […]

Myanmar: Does a month’s lead in rollout matter?

It now appears that a month’s lead amounts to one million customers. While there is no bar against those customers also obtaining Telenor, MPT or Yatanarpon SIMs, one would have to conclude that not all will, giving Ooredoo a distinct advantage. While Ooredoo has focused on second-generation cellular, Telenor’s SIM cards will work with any […]

A policy window for those interested in better broadband policy in India?

Usually one has only the time stipulated in the consultation paper to prepare a response. In this case, the Chair is giving extra time to intervenors to get organized. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chair Rahul Khullar on Wednesday said the authority would come out with a consultation paper on broadband next month. The […]

Is EU approach to privacy the appropriate one for us?

I resisted the notion that we should start our work on guidelines for”big data” from the settled law of other jurisdictions. I did not do that in 1987 when I did one of the earliest policy studies on ICTs and the law in Sri Lanka, and I was not about to start in 2013. I […]

Implementing public WiFi promise, starting from Khan Market

The policy statement of the new government headed by Narendra Modi promised to continue the NOFN initiative and work toward a Digital India: “We will strive to provide Wi-Fi zones in critical public areas in the next five years. My government will rollout broad band highway to reach every village and make all schools e-enabled […]

Nothing is better than something, or the paternalistic approach to the Internet

Well before zero rating, poor people in Indonesia were telling us how they used Facebook, a few minutes after telling us they were not Internet users. This seemed like a choice they had made. We reported it, and actually made it a part of the argument we used to beat back the misbegotten effort by […]

Chinese cloud service companies

Are still slow, but how will they be lagging behind? And once the Americans screw up the data confidentiality safeguards, cost may be the decider. In terms of performance, Alibaba cannot come close. For a Chinese site, it does impressive work, handling $5.8 billion in commerce on China’s heaviest shopping day. The Alibaba S.E.C. filing […]

Is China a good place to store data in?

We’ve been writing about the dangers posed by the governments of the places where data are stored wanting access. Now, with US courts trying to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction, it looks like China might be a safe place? Apple Inc has begun storing personal data for some Chinese users on servers provided by China Telecom, marking […]

Gates Foundation sees great potential in mobile big data

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has published a new report on Using mobile big data for development. Too often basic information on the poor – who is poor, where do they live and move, how do they manage their social and financial lives? – is scarce, while the costs associated with being underknown are […]

A solution for the problem of extremist boycott of Ooredoo in Myanmar

I think it’s perfectly alright for consumers to boycott various products. That’s almost part of consumer sovereignty. When we buy one thing, we don’t buy its substitutes. But the 969 boycott in Myanmar has an added twist. The anti-Muslim hatemongers are asking their followers to refuse to answer calls from Ooredoo numbers. This reduces the […]

Mismatch of supply and demand for SIMs in Myanmar

Last month in Yangon, I said to a group of Parliamentarians that I hoped there would be no SIM riots in Myanmar similar to those that occurred when competition was introduced in Bangladesh and Pakistan. A riot is a crude response to a mismatch of supply and demand. Looks like the mismatch exists in Myanmar, […]

A no-camera phone optimized for listening to music from Microsoft (Nokia)

It’s been sometime since we wrote about cheap feature phones for the BoP. Around seven years, if my search does not mislead. But here goes Microsoft. We wish them success. The company billed the €19 device as “the most affordable mobile phone with video and music player”. In both cases, the ability to add content […]

Japan extends concessionary loans to Myanmar for telecom: Govt must ensure competition is not harmed

On the face any money coming into Myanmar to help develop its creaking infrastructure is good. When the money is given on concessionary terms, it appears even better. But it is important to look beyond appearance. Will it harm competition, which is the government’s chosen (and proven) instrument to develop the ICT infrastructure? Japan said […]

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