Bangladesh


It was back in 2009 that I was criticized for saying that regulation based on an understanding of the operative Budget Telecom Network Model did not permit strict regulation of quality of service. It was also around then that we started focusing on taxes as a factor. That was repeated many times in Bangladesh by us, for example, when I outlined what needed to be done to achieve Digital Bangladesh. That these things have to be said again and again, indicates we have not been very effective. The national exchequer gets Tk 51 of every Tk 100 spent by a mobile user, leaving less money for the operators to develop network and run business smoothly, the GSMA said yesterday.
Mustafa Jabbar, the newly appointed minister for the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, cannot waste much time on receiving bouquets and greetings. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has offloaded this portfolio on him after unceremoniously ejecting her veteran comrade in October 2014. Since then Hasina had been minding this ministry besides discharging her prime ministerial duties. She depended on two junior ministers – Zunaid Ahmed Palak for Information Technology and Tarana Halim for Posts and Telecommunications – to run the show. It had been a poor show and Jabbar must fix it.
When we discovered that Nepal had only spent 2.6 percent of the universal-service funds it had collected since 1997, we were shocked. No government could do worse, we thought. But we were wrong. The Bangladesh government’s disbursement rate is much easier to calculate.
A senior UN official has blamed the telecoms networks for threatening the road safety across Asia and the United States of America.
When I was working for the government of Bangladesh I was given a free Teletalk SIM. I wanted to use it. Who doesn’t like free stuff? I tried. Since I spent a lot of time at the Secretariat, I managed to actually make some calls.
The second submarine cable is supposed to guarantee Bangladesh better international connectivity for the following reasons: Bangladeshi ISPs are eager for SEA-ME-WE5, the second submarine cable. It lands at Kuakata, the southwestern coastal village, this year. Kuakata is 300 nautical miles away from Cox’s Bazar. The two vastly located undersea cable landing facilities will bolster the country’s international connectivity. They will also salvage Bangladeshi ISPs from the Indian carriers’ oligopoly.
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 3 places.
We are inviting Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct comparative nationwide studies of ICT access and use in 2017 in India and Bangladesh. The full RFP is downloadable here. Please also see our Technical Proposal Template, Financial Proposal Template, and Sample Locations before submitting the proposals. Deadline for submissions is 10 August 2017.
As Sri Lanka is drying itself out after yet another disaster, people are beginning to ask what went wrong and what could be done better in the future. Some of the comments are not fair, for example the comparison of the Bangladesh and Sri Lanka responses, but most are useful. Every disaster must be treated as a learning opportunity. First, let’s get the Bangladesh comparison out of the way. Once a cyclone forms, its track can be seen from satellites.
Last weekend (3-4 February 2017), I along with my colleagues Shazna and Dedunu visited University of Dhaka. We were able to share our experiences in conducting policy relevant research on big data for development in Sri Lanka (see slides), with both faculty and students. The other objective was to meet with the faculty and staff associated with the Data and Design Lab at the university, which is a collaboration between Dhaka University and LIRNEasia. The lab is led by Dr. Moinul Zaber, who is a member of the faculty at Dhaka University and a Research Fellow with LIRNEasia.
On the final day of UNIGF, IGF academy fellows participated in a debriefing activity to identify and look back on their journey to UNIGF 2016 and the way forward of the National Internet Governance Forums (NIGFs). At this debriefing the Asian fellows highlighted the importance of help with fund raising and having closed door meetings with potential stakeholders. Also, they said that its not possible for them to participate in all the calls of the IGF academy due to their busy schedules. The fellows suggested that its better if one fellow out of the two fellows from a given country participate in a call its sufficient and that the fellows can alternate. The fellows pointed out the importance of low emphasis in the structures and high emphasis on subject matter.
This is a big deal. For all countries, but especially for Bangladesh and Myanmar which were hitherto dependent on a single undersea cable and few terrestrial links. Of course, construction being completed does not mean that the data is flowing at all points. That will hopefully happen quickly in all countries. If you read the full report, you will see that the international units of both China Telecom and China Mobile are investors in the consortium.
Myanmar is the rising star in global telecoms market and anything new hits the headlines. Bharti Airtel’s claim of activating a terrestrial optical fiber cable link between India and Myanmar is one such example. An undisclosed sum has been reportedly invested in a 6,500rkm (route km) terrestrial link. It will be connected to Airtel’s landing stations in Chennai and Mumbai. Ajay Chitkara, the company’s director & CEO (global voice & data business) told the Economic Times: ‘The terrestrial cable link is a strategic fibre asset for Airtel in the SAARC region, which will enable the company to offer robust end-to-end connectivity solutions in Myanmar, which is seeing rapid uptake of digital services as one of the last growth frontiers in Asia.
A 2 1/2 day regional workshop on “Internet Governance Processes” for national champions selected from 4 countries (Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh) is currently being held in Renuka City Hotel, Sri Lanka. This regional workshop is the commencing workshop of the IGF Academy, Asia counterpart. This academy aims to strengthen Internet governance in global south. At the end of the 6 month fellowship, the national champions are expected to develop road maps on lessons learnt by intervening in Internet governance processes in their respective countries. Transfer guides on how to replicate what was done in this program will be developed after the fellows participate in IGF in December.
In our teleuse surveys, we found that missed calls beat out texts in some countries (e.g., Bangladesh v Philippines). One explanation is that there are more illiterate people in the countries where missed calls predominate. Qualitative research found that a lot of texting did not involve literate work, mostly it was forwarding messages sent by others.
Myanmar has launched meaningful mobile service in 2014. And the country has secured fourth global position during third quarter of 2015 in terms of net addition, said Ericsson’s latest report. It is ahead of Bangladesh and Indonesia in this category. Ericsson also predicts that Myanmar will surpass Bangladesh in terms of LTE and smartphone penetration by 2018. Smartphone subscriptions penetration in Myanmar, according to Ericsson analysis and World Urbanisation Prospects 2014 from the United Nations, is currently around 30pc and will more than double by 2018.