ASEAN


The work that we began in 2010 with UN ESCAP on improving the international backhaul capacity of Asia is continuing to move forward. The latest step is a pre-feasibility study on ASEAN connectivity conducted in early 2015 and published in 2016. The study found that Internet traffic measurement of international paths (backbone trunk lines), undertaken in early 2015 as part of an UN ESCAP initiative showed serious problems existed in Internet traffic exchange and management within the ASEAN region. The worst result showed an international backbone trunk line download speed of 0.15Mps, latency of 230 msec and Tromboning Index (TI) value of 35.
Myanmar, having completed the “big bang,” initial reforms is in the process of establishing a regulatory agency to be known as the Myanmar Communication Commission (MCC). Due to years of enforced isolation from the world and neglect of education, Myanmar suffers from severe constraints in terms of skilled personnel. Having already achieved good results by learning from the experience with previous reforms, the government may benefit from learning from the experiences in the design of regulatory agencies and the conduct of ex-ante, sector-specific regulation. From desk research and questionnaires administered to informed respondents, this paper assembles relevant evidence from National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs) in member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which Myanmar is a member. In addition, the paper identifies negative aspects of conventional solutions and suggests ways to address them.
I was given the task of talking about policy challenges to using mobile communication advancing socio-economic development in the ASEAN, at the research meeting on mobile communication in the ASEAN at the LKY School. Given the tremendous heterogeneity within ASEAN (ranging from Singapore to Myanmar) I decided it would be more useful to do a deep dive into one ASEAN country, rather than skate over the lot. Also, given the peculiar state of the “single market” in the ASEAN where policy and regulation are not in any way harmonized, a pan-ASEAN discussion would result in a load of platitudes. So I talked about the policy challenges in Myanmar. In the slides I presented data from the 2015 baseline survey to address what socio-economic development effects would be like.
China Unicom has built the US$50 million China-Myanmar International (CMI) terrestrial link. But it is yet to be activated for unknown reasons and Myanmar keeps suffering from outages. Now Beijing has ceremoniously announced its plan to build a Sino-ASEAN submarine cable network without revealing any details. South Asia and Southeast Asia has become the hotbed of Sino-Japanese rivalry, especially after the formation of AIIB. This new development bank has gained unprecedented global membership at a lightning pace.
That’s the first page of the new international call charges announced by Telenor Myanmar. Compared to the dollar a minute (900 Kyat) charged by MPT prior to the entry of competitors, this is very good. The last time we collated international voice prices was in early 2012. But even in relation to that ancient table, one can see that the currently announced prices can come down further. The single most important factor affecting international call prices is competition in the market for international calls.
We’re playing around with some ideas about connectedness. We want to use big data to see what real (as opposed to administratively mandated) communities are. Using Facebook’s analytics page, did some surface analysis of SAARC and ASEAN. It is very clear that India is the center of SAARC, being the country that most Bhutanese have friends in (value of 5 given) and the country with the second-largest number of friends for Bangladeshis, Maldivians, Nepalese, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans (value of 4). I guess the only surprise there is Pakistan.