Gyanendra’s Law states that a government that shuts down its entire national telecom network does not survive. The resignation of Hosni Mubarak affirms the law. Named for the last King of Nepal. Could have been called Jaruselzki’s Law, but Nepal could do with some visibility one thinks. And it is a toss-up which tyrant’s name is harder to pronounce.
Telephone networks were shut down when Lech Walesa was leading the workers of Gdansk against the Polish government in the early 1980s. King Gyanendra shut down the mobile networks of Nepal a few years back. It is not the first time that telecom networks have been shut down by governments with their backs to the wall. Reflections on the Egyptian shut down should be read in this historical context. The key difference is that Egypt was perhaps at a qualitatively higher level of ICT use when they hit the kill switch.
A single European Union-wide telecoms market could be in place from 2010 after the European Commission set out plans to increase competition. Under the new plans, a regional watchdog would be created and former monopolies could be forced to split up their network and services operations. The planned changes are designed to offer consumers cheaper broadband services and phone calls from fixed line and mobile handsets, the Commission also argues. It claims that consumers are currently losing out because in many member countries, including Poland, Italy and Germany, the former state telecoms monopolies still dominate, particularly in the broadband market. The proposals will now be debated in the European Parliament.