We’ve been thinking about the implications of differential access to data for a while. Here‘s a detailed discussion: Some scholars said Facebook’s recent privacy changes may have gone too far by also cutting off academics who behaved responsibly. “Academics would argue that we need access to primary data,” said Dr. Nielsen of Oxford. He said the changes might lead to an asymmetry, with internal Facebook researchers accumulating mounds of data while outside academics would not.
In a parable I worked up in 2012, I speculated on the possibilities of joint ventures between Internet companies such as Facebook and the last-mile access companies to enhance the user experience. Some details of a dispute in South Korea shed light on the problem: According to SKB, there were initially two ways to connect to Facebook in Korea: via a direct connection to Facebook’s server in Hong Kong and via rerouting to a local cache server in Korea operated by local telecom provider KT. The cache server is used to save online content locally in temporary storage, called a cache, and in turn improve the connection speed for accessing foreign internet services. Facebook currently pays KT to use its cache server. SKB argued that Facebook deliberately cut off its link to KT’s faster cache server last December and has since been clashing over network maintenance issues.
Now that we’ve had some time to figure out 4G/LTE, we got to start on 5G. But it seems it will be some time before the standards will settle, according to the NYT. You may soon start hearing a lot about 5G, or the fifth generation of wireless technology. This technology is expected to leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G, by offering mobile Internet speeds that will let people download entire movies within seconds, and it may pave the way for new types of mobile applications. Yet many challenges exist before 5G becomes part of our daily lives.
Yesterday, while I was moderating a panel on ICT policy and regulation, SDGs and inclusion at IIC 2016 in Bangkok, I was surprised to hear from a speaker representing the Alliance for Affordable Internet that “six billion people were without access to broadband.” I wrote it down. In subsequent comments I said the six billion number was “arguable.” The Facebook supported “State of Connectivity 2015” Report (prepared with the participation of A4AI as well as the ITU) states that 3.2 billion people (43 percent) were Internet users.
IIC is an organization that provides a platform for discussion of ICT policy and regulation with a specialized focus. They are spending a week in our neck of the woods, Bangkok. The main conference will be on October 12-13. Here are the two sessions I am participating in on Day 1. SESSION 2: LINKING ICT POLICY AND REGULATION WITH SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND INCLUSIVE GROWTH – WHAT MUST BE DONE DIFFERENTLY TO ALLEVIATE OBSTACLES TO UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY AND ACCESSIBILITY?
Here is what I worked up as an opening statement for the IGF 2015 Main Session: Human Rights, Access and Internet Governance Roundtable on Day 4: 13 November, 11:00-13:00, at the Main Meeting Hall I have been engaged in the provision of access, first to voice telephony and then to Internet, over the past two decades. Compared to expansion of access to other infrastructure services such as electricity and transportation, the ICT efforts have been extremely successful. In my work in government, as well as in our work in research and policy advocacy, we have tried to be mindful of the legal obligations set out in our laws (as well as in international treaty instruments our government is party to). Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires government to act without discrimination and Article 25(3) on equal access to public services were among the most relevant in terms of access policies and implementation. Active government support for access is associated with a positive-rights approach.
below is the long version of the pitch we made to the Stockholm Internet Forum. Hopefully, it will gain enough votes to be included. Billions are yet to be connected to the Internet. Some lessons can be drawn from the case of the previous success story of connecting billions to voice telephony. For example, from experience with industry-specific taxes and universal service funds we have a much better understanding of how taxes and subsidies are likely to affect access to and affordability of Internet.
It is a good thing that Digital India builds upon the previous unexecuted plans for taking fiber to rural India. What we said then, and what we say now is that the government must put teeth into the claim that NOFN will be “a national non-discriminatory infrastructure.” Give the private providers certainty by spelling out the terms and conditions of non-discriminatory access to the fiber. Australia made it too complicated, but there are lessons to be learned from that experience. Digital India weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single comprehensive vision.
Xinhua reports mobile SIM numbers for Myanmar as of April 2014. Helped by the lower than estimated population numbers given by the latest census that came out a week back, this means that Myanmar is well on its way to achieving its telecom penetration targets. The current SIM penetration is not known, but if we add 1 million to the Xinhua numbers (reported to be what Ooredoo achieved in first three weeks of rollout), the SIM/100 reaches 18. The number of Myanmar’s mobile phone users has been on sharp rise, reaching 8.278 million as of April 2014, up 7.
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 year, such as: net neutrality role of governments and regulators vs role of markets: are we getting the balance right so that the benefits get to those who need it most? access for all: public access, access for the poorest of the poor, access for people with disability Virat Bhatia will provide a review of how the topic will be discussed at the IGF 2014 at workshops and in the ‘access’ main session. Policies Enabling Access, Growth and Development on the Internet, Main session –Wednesday, September 3, 0930-1200 Here, Rohan Samarajiva will speak on policies conducive to Internet use. Workshop No.
The prospects of breakthrough changes in electricity dominated a number of my recent conversations. Could be because we were disseminating our 2012-14 research results to electricity audiences, or because we just finished teaching an introductory course on electricity regulation. But, it’s also possible that the prospects of a step change are imminent, driven by the increasing demand for reliable, universal electricity access by the neo middle classes (to use the terminology of the victorious BJP), and also the technological possibilities opened up by the application of ICTs to electricity networks. But is the development community beginning to look at electricity? One indicator is that electricity papers are being read at ICT4D conferences.
As everyone assumes that everyone is connected to the Internet (not an assumption we have to deal with in our countries at this moment), the consequences of not using the Internet become quite serious. “As more tasks move online, it hollows out the offline options,” said John B. Horrigan, a senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “A lot of employers don’t accept offline job applications. It means if you don’t have the Internet, you could be really isolated.
It appears from news reports that the Myanmar government has commenced work on a domestic fiber backhaul network. This was among the recommendations of the oped that I published in a Myanmar newspaper last year. But as experience has shown in country after country that it is easier to build backhaul than to ensure that it is efficiently used (see downloadable book, chapter 7). For this, an open-access regime based on cost-oriented pricing and non-discriminatory access is essential. The farmlands were dug twice, while burying cables along the roads in Thapyay San village, Magway township, one of the locals said.
The government itself has found the early warning actions of the designated national authorities deficient and is talking of setting up workaround mechanisms. Nothing really new, other than sadness that seven years and large commitments of resources have not taken us much farther than we were back in 2004. What is even more worrisome is the lack of knowledge among all the parties about the available modes of communicating early warnings. No mention of cell broadcasting that is capable of delivering location-specific tailored information to all mobile handsets within the range of a base transceiver station. The journalist has done a good job except for repeating misinformation about poor communication infrastructure and access in rural areas.
Because of excellent performance on many indexes such as the AT Kearney Service Location Index, I have made a habit of checking on Vietnam’s performance on comparative rankings. True enough, the ITU’s ICT Development Index showed Vietnam advancing from 91st place to 81st place, a dramatic 10 place advance from 2008 to 2010. This prompted me to probe deeper to find out what good things were happening in Vietnam that others could emulate. Instead of finding lessons to emulate, I ended up with deep disquiet about the IDI methodology. Vietnam’s score and ranking on the Skills subindex remained unchanged (value of 5.
There wasn’t much of a problem with the disabled back in the old days. They were kept behind closed doors, so there was not much demand for accessibility in public places and such. Things have changed, for the good. Now, in the developed world, every part of a building must be accessible by wheelchair. Pedestrian crossing make a noise in addition to just the color signal.