Today was the first public airing of our big data for development research results. It was a small amount of time, so we focused on a limited set of issues. So we showed that anonymized data sets can easily substitute for costly traffic studies. Slides.
Politicians are not known for strict adherence to truth, but I personally thought the Minister of Science and Technology Tissa Vitarana being a man of science was cut from different cloth. The first time he stated that the original telecenters set up under e Sri Lanka (Vishva Gnana Kendra or VGKs) were in urban areas and that after the government changed in 2004, the decision was taken to take them to rural areas (renamed as Nenasala), I blamed not him, but the flunkies at the ICT Agency who did not give him the true facts. None of the VGKs were in major urban centers, while some Nenasalas are in the centers of major cities (e.g., one inside the Dalada Maligawa premises and another inside the Natha Devalaya, in the heart of Kandy).
Applications for the 8th South Asian Forum for Infrastructure Regulation (SAFIR) Core Course on Infrastructure Regulation have been opened. The course will take place from 1st – 8th April 2007, at Mahaweli Reach Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka. The residential program offers participants the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of regulations pertaining to infrastructure industries and regulatory economics as well as topical issues attendant to those industries, to share their experiences, to develop practical solutions to regional problems. While theory and principles covered are applicable across most infrastructure sectors, special attention will be placed on the following 4: Electricity, Transport, Telecom and Pipeline Industries (water, oil, gas) Organized by LIRNEasia, the course maintains the tradition of teaching excellence which is a hall mark of the annual SAFIR Core Course. More information on registration and discounts for bulk registrations can be found here
The following news item talks about SLTL’s plans to give 100,000 ADSL connections (more than the total number of main lines in 1990!). This is good news indeed. But it would be even better news if the network were to be properly dimensioned so that customers could get the speeds they pay for. :: Daily Mirror – FINANCIAL TIMES :: SLT is also shifting its focus to non-voice data services and delivering broadband technologies.
Yesterday, I spoke to a large and restive crowd (made so by lack of air conditioning and a delayed start) in Matara (main city in the South of Sri Lanka) at the launch of the Pathfinder Foundation’s first book, a Sinhala translation of Janos Kornai’s Toward a free economy. I was asked to talk about globalization and the relevance of Kornai’s ideas for facing the challenges posed by globalization. In this talk that I pieced together thanks to time zone differences that caused me to wake up at 3 in the morning while in the US, I illustrated the issues referring to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), a broad area of service exports for which efficient, flexible and low-cost telecom is a pre-condition. I think the talk provides the "big picture" of the necessity of telecom reforms of the type that we at LIRNEasia are involved in. If we are to go beyond simply giving people phones, to giving them "money in the pocket and hope in the heart" this big picture is essential.