Broadband


The countries in mainland Asia are mostly interconnected through submarine cables. Public and private incumbents abuse their ownership of submarine cable systems followed by hindering competition in wholesale bandwidth sales. As a result, Asia remains impaired by the lack of cross-border Internet connectivity and exorbitant bandwidth prices. Hong Kong and Singapore are the only carrier-neutral wholesale capacity hubs in Asia. Yet, their prices are higher than the corresponding European and North American outlets.
Informed writing on highly technical subjects is not easy to do. That is one reason we encourage journalists to participate in our courses. Here is a piece on the Loon trials in Sri Lanka by one who attended the Ford Foundation supported broadband policy and regulation course in Marawila in 2015. Appears his time was well spent, as were our resources. Sri Lanka has signed the APT spectrum plan which means the government is committed to migrate our existing television stations to a digital platform.
This was the fourth (or fifth if one broadens the definition) broadband course we had taught in India. But there was something different about this course. Possibly it was because NOFN/BharatNet was becoming real on the ground. But it was not yet real in terms of connecting people as indicated by the report below. Out of the 65,475 gram panchayats where optic fibre cable has been laid, only 14,569 gram panchayats across 22 states have active connectivity as on December 6, according to Bharat Broadband Network Ltd.
There is no shortcut to universal access of broadband. Very distinct four segments of broadband supply chain are to be addressed in a synchronized fashion. They are: International connectivity, domestic connectivity, metro networks and access networks. We have detected international connectivity being the ‘Achille’s Heel’ in Asia’s broadband value chain. Our research has prompted the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to adopt Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS).
Various players are speculating about and trying to come to terms with the “pause” in Fiber initiatives by Google. Hopes that Google would establish a nationwide model for fiber Internet service were dashed last month, when the company suddenly declared a “pause” in its plans to lay fiber in as many as 18 municipalities, beyond the eight metro areas where it already is building or has completed its system. The disappointed suitors will have to wait for this strategy to play out or move ahead on their own. They would be well advised to keep an eye on San Francisco. What of its developing world counterpart, Loon?
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.
UN ESCAP has just put up a video of an interview I gave them a while back. Listening to it again, it seems that they succeeded in getting me to weave together a number of strands of work undertaken by LIRNEasia over the years, including broadband quality of service, importance of low-cost reliable international backhaul, and broadband eco systems. The one additional element is a discussion of leaders of tomorrow, making reference to MIDO and what’s happening in Myanmar as well our work with big data. This starts midway in the interview (2:28). I did not recall this part.
The sixth iteration of the Ford Foundation supported course on how to engage in broadband policy and regulatory processes commenced today at IIT Delhi. An interesting mix of participants has been assembled by Dr Vignesh Illavarasan who is directing the course. He has also assembled a stellar cast of speakers, with perhaps the best gender balance we have achieved in this course. The assignment is a central element of the course. It allows the participants to apply the knowledge gathered in the course to a practical problem.
Osama Manzar of Digital Empowerment Foundation has written an op ed on BharatNet, still being described by the unfortunate acronym NOFN. We have been writing about it since Sam Pitroda came up with the plan in 2012-13. What is sad is that the story has not changed much since 2013-14, despite governments and ministers changing. In Palla village of Dadri, the village head informed us that NOFN cables had been laid in the area 18 months ago, but there was still no set-up box or Wi-Fi tower. This is alarming because Ballabhgarh and Dadri are within a 50-km radius from Delhi.
Increasing presence of the global stalwarts in Yangon is evident in Chatrium Hotel (thumbnail). It’s just a snapshot of the bigger picture. Such multinationals are to be in touch with their home offices through secured enterprise solutions like MPLS. Therefore, after the meteoric rise of its teledensity, Myanmar must change its course towards enterprise. The government has published its Spectrum Roadmap in early April.
I could not find a better illustration of the positive externalities of broadband than this story about Detroit, a once great American city: Detroit has the worst rate of Internet access of any big American city, with four in 10 of its 689,000 residents lacking broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. While difficulties in connecting to the Internet in rural areas are well known, Detroit is becoming a case study in how the digital divide in an urban setting can make or break a recovery. Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind FEB. 22, 2016 The deficiency of Internet access in Detroit is particularly glaring given that broadband is now considered as basic as electricity and water. Last year, the F.
A recent report by TIE, summarized in Mint, echoes many of the conclusions we reached about the challenges of increasing Internet connectivity in India, with emphasis on the bottom of the pyramid. It is important that Bharat Broadband Network stays at the backhaul level and does not seek to directly provide access services to end users. This is not only to safeguard the principle that all access providers should have non-discriminatory, cost-oriented access to the backhaul but also to ensure that the NOFN rollout does not slow down any further. It is silly to ask a bunch of bureaucrats to market Internet access. Private operators are not interested in providing access at the ends of the NOFN wire for various reasons.
Grace Mirandilla Santos has been working on this for a long time. Even after the formal proceeding ends, it appears she will have to help. Cabarios also expressed difficulties in getting wired and fixed wireless subscribers to volunteer for measurement of Internet speeds. Mary Grace Santos – an independent researcher for think-tank LIRNEasia – expressed willingness of civil society representatives present to encourage subscribers to volunteer their broadband services for testing and monitoring . “We will do a public call over social media so we can encourage more people to actively participate in the monitoring process,” Santos said.
Pakistan has officially allowed private carriers to terrestrially plug the country with all the four neighbors including India. This multidimensional landmark decision makes Pakistan the buckle of South Asia-Central Asia telecoms belt. This route is embedded in our proposed trans-Asian connectivity for affordable broadband. It took us three years to convince ESCAP, which dubs our concept “Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.” Pakistan currently exports internet bandwidth to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Grace Mirandilla Santos, LIRNEasia Research Fellow, is nothing if not persistent. She has been hammering away at the broadband quality problem in the Philippines for a long time now. The big party thrown by the government for APEC leaders in Manila becomes the latest opportunity for her: A note to APEC delegates: this brand of hospitality does not, by any measure, reflect what the ordinary Filipino experience every day. Traffic navigation app Waze has branded Manila as having the worst road traffic compared to other cities that use it. NAIA airports experience congestion everyday, and most recently was plagued with the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scam that allegedly preys on tourists and overseas migrant workers.
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 most part. The Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank was critical of the universal service initiatives supported and funded by the World Bank over 10 years.