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Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

Book on energy policy reviewed

Somehow, electricity lacks the sexiness of ICTs. People debate how many households have mobiles, but few know how many households have electricity. This on a subject Lenin thought was so important that he proclaimed “Socialism + Electricity = Communism.” Not that I advocate Communism, Lenin forbid. So I was very pleased when a book on […]

Explaining why 32 million Indonesian Facebook users are not counted by their government as Internet users

Samarajiva_IGF_2014

My previous post on Internet v Facebook users elicited a lot of responses. We also went back and relooked at the numbers carefully. The Myanmar census numbers came in (after 30 years?). Some changes were made. Here are some responses. Many people thought it was nonsensical to claim that Internet users < Facebook users. We […]

Buddhist activists engage with energy policy

Is this a regional trend? I came across this report from Thailand, soon after reviewing a book of energy policy and politics by Minister Ranawaka from the JHU, the Sri Lankan political party which has monks in leadership positions and which got into Parliament by fielding an all-monk slate of candidates in 2004. The monk’s […]

The mental shock of competition

Bright people go into engineering in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Engineers manage incumbent telcos. When I came to Sri Lanka as the regulator in 1998, I was surprised by some of the things my bright engineer friends said about losing market share. They talked as though this was something that could be stanched. […]

More Facebook users than Internet users in South East Asia?

Internet & Facebook users, 2014

I have always been intrigued by the differences between South and South East Asian countries. We saw this over and over again when we did the Teleuse@BOP surveys. But playing around with some numbers for Facebook users in four South and four SE Asian countries, I was astounded. In all the SE Asian countries, there […]

LIRNEasia at Internet Governance Forum 2014, Istanbul, September 2-5, 2014 (Part 1)

Setting the Scene Focus Session – Tuesday, September 2 • 11:00am – 12:30pm Sub-themes for IGF 2014 a) POLICIES ENABLING ACCESS Speaker: Rohan Samarajiva, LirneAsia, Sri Lanka Rohan will provide a bird’s eye view on progress and challenges in achieving affordable access for all. He will highlight controversial issues that came up in the last […]

India: The more things change . . . BSNL remains in the driver’s seat

I have been inclined to give the new administration the benefit of the honeymoon period, but surely this is nuts. The previous administration placed all its eggs in the BSNL basket and got egg in its face for its pains. Not only did they extract enormous amounts as fees, they delayed procurement and did not […]

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 […]

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