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

Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

Market consolidation in India, now it’s a threefer (or is it a fourfer?)

It was expected. So I ignored the news that RCom and Sistema were in merger talks. What got my attention was the Aircel angle. People have been talking about collaboration between the Ambani brothers (Jio and RCom). Now that get’s real interesting. I guess the Competition Authority is watching now. The main motivation for RCom […]

Is physical infrastructure actually necessary for globally competitive cities in the 21st Century?

The original plan was that we would showcase our big data for urban development research at the LBO-LBR Infrastructure Summit that started today. But it was not to be. Neither I nor Sriganesh Lokanathan could be present on the second day and our work was considered too nitty-gritty for the “high-level” discussion on Day 1. […]

IBM vertically integrates into weather data

It’s a little odd to use a concept like vertical integration but that seems to best explain what IBM is doing. IBM calls what Watson does “cognitive computing,” heralding an age of machines that supposedly think. What the company has not figured out is how to make this into an engine of growth. The tech […]

Sri Lanka ICT sector governance: Freedom House report exemplifies shoddy research or success of opacity?

There is no debate that the laws governing the telecom/ICT sector in Sri Lanka are among the most convoluted. So I have some sympathy for the people who write about it. But I assume they are paid for their work and they have a duty to check their facts. The excerpt below is just one […]

Free basics in the Maldives

Dhiraagu tends to respond to these kinds of things strongly. Should be interesting. Ooredoo Maldives and Facebook have partnered to connect more people to the internet with the launch of Free Basics in the Maldives. Free Basics, a Facebook-led initiative, is aimed at making internet access available to the two thirds of the world’s population […]

Vulnerability of undersea cables comes to fore

The problem of sabotage of undersea cables was brought to the attention of UN ESCAP and the senior government officials who attended the ICT and DRR Committee meeting by LIRNEasia as far back as November 2010 (see slide 20). Now it’s headline news. Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea […]

Two days debating big data privacy

I spent two challenging days at the first face-to-face meeting of the Privacy Advisory Group of UN Global Pulse in Den Haag. BIt was challenging because it was scheduled adjacent to a privacy commissioners’ conference and because the location was in Europe where privacy protection has been elevated to quasi-religious status. We as researchers are […]

Myanmar ICT developments showcased at Stockholm Internet Forum

It was tough going up against Helani Galpaya’s Zero Rating session, but the Myanmar session attracted 17 persons (I took some photos, but later realized that it is against SIF policy to take or publish audience photos without permission). I presented the “all fronts” approach of the ongoing LIRNEasia-MIDO Inclusive Information Society project as a […]

Entity-based and technology-specific taxes approved by Sri Lanka Parliament

When these misguided taxes were proposed back in January in the interim budget, I protested. An example is here. They could not get the bills passed in the previous Parliament. It was the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce that labeled them as entity-based. But now they are through. Wrong then; wrong now. The Resolution under the […]

Beliefs trump evidence among moderators at Stockholm Internet Forum

It is quite intriguing how often moderators and many panelists default to a position that advocates government action and subsidies at the sessions I have heard so far. The evidence is clear on what worked and what did not with regard to first generation connectivity. Government supply failed. Government subsidies were not disbursed for the […]

Lessons from Myanmar telecom reform experience at 1700 hrs, 21 Oct at Stockholm Internet Forum

Billions are yet to be connected to the Internet. Lessons can be drawn from connecting billions to voice telephony. Experience with industry-specific taxes and subsidies has yielded understanding of how they shape access. Voice telephony required no new skills. Today digital literacy is needed. LIRNEasia is engaged in shaping policies affecting Internet access based on […]

Before the entry of 4th operator, Myanmar consumers see benefits

No one yet knows the actual composition of the joint venture that will get the fourth license. But the results are already being felt. Starting this month, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), the state-owned operator whose monopolistic rights ended last year, cut its Internet charges from 7 kyat (Bt0.21) per megabyte to 6 kyat. The […]

Whatsapp versus SMS: The drama continues

The first part of the Quartz article is the usual complaint about Whatsapp getting a free ride. While they may be eating into the messaging and voice revenues of mobile networks, OTTs like Whatsapp aren’t completely bad for business. They can help fuel data consumption—a growing revenue stream for network operators if exploited well. South […]

Zero Rating violates Net Neutrality – so what?: Attend unconference session at Stockholm Internet Forum

One of the unconference sessions proposed by LIRNEasia has been chosen. Time and place will be announced here. Zero Rating violates Net Neutrality – so what? Zero Rated content doesn’t count towards his/her data cap. Users can consume this content for free/very cheap, while paying “regular” data fees for others. For example, Facebook’s text only […]

Potential of mobile network big data discussed with senior Bangladesh officials

Last week, Moinul Zaber and I were privileged to discuss the potential of mobile network big data with a group of senior government officials assembled by the Access to Information Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Planning Commission, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Bangladesh Computer Council, and the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission were among […]


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