LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

How think tanks can contribute to good policy

I have been immersed in discussions in various media platforms about the 2018 Sri Lanka Budget. A budget speech seeks to communicate the direction of government policy to other economic actors. While it is a coherent and forward-looking document overall, the 2018 Budget does contain some problematic proposals that will have to be walked back […]

How does one measure the efficacy of budget proposals?

I’ve been on some kind of budget binge this past week. Part of the problem with Sri Lanka public administration is that no assessment is done of the budget proposals. Last year’s budget increased the allocation for the Ministry of Telecom and Digital Infrastructure by 479 percent. What are indicators that this was a wise […]

Explaining why the government’s tower levy proposal is impractical on a government TV channel

Sri Lanka has not one, but two, government-owned TV channels. They tend to be used for propaganda, but there are occasions when they act like normal news channels, serving the public interest in understanding what is going on. Last week, for example, I was happy to be on a talk show in the midst of […]

When people don’t understand technology and investment decisions, silly mistakes are made

It was in 1998, almost 20 years ago, that I was invited to a meeting at the Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka in my capacity as Director General of Telecommunications. They had identified a high point in the city of Colombo to locate ALL the cellular antenna towers and they wanted me to concur […]

Another cogitation on punitive taxes imposed on mobile networks

As I was thinking about how to explain the silliness of charging LKR 200,000 (USD 1,300) per antenna tower per month as proposed by Sri Lanka’s 2018 Budget, I came across this piece on how African governments were shooting themselves in the foot by following the Willie Sutton doctrine: Unfortunately, instead of seizing such opportunities, […]

Looking beyond the smartphone

We had the good fortune to develop a proposal on training app developers before smartphone started dominating the markets we care about. We did not get the money; they gave it to some Pakistani government outfit that could not even start the work, but that aside, we benefited from the exercise. It forced us to […]

Vision and implementation

In much of what we do, we have to deal with visions/strategies/roadmaps/plans/etc. and of course implementation. This vision I was asked to discuss is not about ICTs per se, but about a whole country. I tried to provide a structure to the discussion. Here are the slides that will be the basis of the talk […]

Platforms and international trade

Most people think platforms and transformative ICT companies are best described by the acronym GAFA. Some add Microsoft to make it five. But living in Asia, we know better. There’s Baidu, Alibaba and TenCent. Alibaba has become one of the most highly valued technology companies in the world, and its recent string of strong financial […]

LIRNEasia’s contribution to work under the Broadband for All Pillar of ESCAP AP-IS

Most of the organizations that were given time at the First Session of the Steering Committee meeting used the time to advertise themselves. I chose instead to present our broad range of contributions to AP-IS in the form of a short presentation of work done under the Project on Myanmar as an Inclusive Information Society. […]

Next thing you know, St Helena will overtake Cuba in ICT indicators

I’ve always had this fascination with the cellar dwellers. Those days, Myanmar was firmly ensconced in the second to last place, kept from the honor of being the least connected place by St Helena. But the 4,000 plus inhabitants have had mobile telephony since 2015. As of two weeks ago scheduled flights are landing in […]

“Confluence” of law and technology, at SAARC Law 2017

A confluence is the junction of two rivers, especially rivers of approximately equal width. My session at SAARC Law 2017 is entitled Confluence of Law and Technology. The way I see it, there is no alternative but to relax the requirement that the metaphorical rivers be of equal width. Unless, of course, we define law […]

State-owned telco distributes free SIMs, money be damned

When I was working for the government of Bangladesh I was given a free Teletalk SIM. I wanted to use it. Who doesn’t like free stuff? I tried. Since I spent a lot of time at the Secretariat, I managed to actually make some calls. The challenge was finding a place to load some value. […]

In low-income data-centric markets, spectrum will be key to providing adequate connectivity

We’ve been saying for long that voice will be just another app. Reliance Jio has made it so. Therefore, we should take statements from the senior managers of that company seriously: Spectrum allocation will be the most critical element in adoption of fifth-generation or 5G mobile networks in India, Reliance Jio Infocomm president Mathew Oommen […]

What is the cloud?

I was reading this report on a flight. The flight attendant was highly amused by the title: A cloud for doing good. What a weird title she said. Well, here is an answer from David Pogue to the question of what is the cloud? You may have encountered the Cloud as a synchronizing service. If […]

E commerce, big data and personalized pricing

In the course of our policy work related to big data, we discussed first-degree price discrimination: At a more abstract level, the problem is one of first-degree price discrimination. First-degree price discrimination, or person-specific pricing, has not been practiced or observed because it was not possible to discern reservation values. This constraint may be in […]

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