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

Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

AT Kearney Global Services Location Index, sees Bangladesh advancing to 21, Sri Lanka to 11, and India holding at 1

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 […]

Google enters Indian mobile financial services market

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 […]

Media coverage for LIRNEasia universal-service fund recommendations based on RTI request

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 […]

Bangladesh cable connectivity: Deja vu all over again

It is sad that government suppliers shielded from competitive pressure do not learn, and keep repeating the same mistakes. Our Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan has several comments in this Daily Star piece about the problems with how SEA-ME-WE 5 has been handled by the government companies. Though the task of laying the second […]

Challenges of utilizing insurance as part of the disaster risk mitigation toolkit

We have been thinking about insurance in the context of disasters ever since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Recently, we discussed insurance as part of the work we did for ESCAP on resilient ICT infrastructure. There, we came up against the problem of concentrated damage and difficulties of spreading risks discussed in relation to flood […]

USD 351 million lay unspent in Sri Lanka’s Universal Service Fund at end 2015

Unlike many countries, Sri Lanka did not impose a universal-service levy on customers of telecom services, directly or indirectly. One reason was the clause in the SLT privatization agreements that no universal-service levies would be imposed on the company. When you exempt the biggest player, you can’t then go and impose levies on the competitors. […]

Elements of a broadband policy for Sri Lanka, based on LIRNEasia’s regional research

Agenda – Broadband Forum 2017 It has been a while since we have engaged with telecom policy and regulation in Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Telecom and Digital Infrastructure invited me to speak at their flagship event sponsored by Huawei. Our research has been on broadband in countries in the region. So the talk seeks […]

Bangladesh overtakes Pakistan in IDI index as well as in per-capita GDP

The economist celebrates Bangladesh’s achievements, caused in part by Pakistan’s census showing that it has more people than earlier estimated, thus decreasing the per-capita GDP. When the new population numbers are applied to the indicators that contribute to the ITU’s 2016 ICT Development Index, it is likely that the current virtual tie between Bangladesh and […]

Two thirds of Americans get some news via social media. Has to be higher in Myanmar

Just a few days ago, I wrote about an Australian scholar expressing skepticism about the importance of Facebook as a news channel. I referred to Pew Research on the subject from 2016. Now the 2017 results are in: As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their […]

What we said back in 2013 about need to build capacity and prioritize regulatory tasks

In the course of teaching a course for the staff of the Post and Telecom Department of the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communication, I had occasion to look again at the comments we had submitted back on December 2013 for a consultation on draft regulations for the sector. This is from a comment on […]

LIRNEasia researcher chairs ITU working group on price baskets

Shazna Zuhyle, a researcher from Colombo-based LIRNEasia, a regional policy research body will chair an International Telecommunication Union expert group meeting. The 8th meeting of the Expert Group on Telecommunication/ICT Indicators will start on September 12 in Geneva. It will consider a revision to the current data, messaging and voice price benchmarks, which are used […]

What does it take to become a learning organization?

Yesterday, we were discussing how a regulatory agency could become a learning organization. I was thinking of a parsimonious indicator. Why not resources spent on learning/training activities? How much did the organization spend on activities associated with training/learning? Actual money spent on fees, travel, per diems etc. plus opportunity costs borne because staff were sent […]

VietTel promises much in Myanmar: USD 1.5 Billion and same as domestic roaming in GMR

In relation to past promises, USD 1.5 billion may not be much, but I place little weight on promises of investment anyway. More significant is VietTel’s promise to allow roaming at domestic-like prices in the Greater Mekong Region. Now this too has been talked about. But not acted upon so far. Our suggestion back in […]

Nay Pyi Taw, 2013 and 2017

Just over four years ago, in August 2013, Helani Galpaya and I came to Nay Pyi Taw to deliver the regulatory module of a multi-day course offered by a number of different organizations, including the GSMA and the World Bank. For me, it the second visit to Myanmar and the first to Nay Pyi Taw, […]

Regulatory experience sharing in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

Myanmar is one of the great success stories in telecom reform. When the government set the target of 80 SIMs/100 within five years back in 2013, many people doubted it could be done. But it has been done and exceeded. Myanmar’s smartphone penetration is now similar to that of the United States. One shortcoming was […]

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