This report is the result of research conducted by GSMA’s Connected Women programme and LIRNEasia in Myanmar in 2015. LIRNEasia’s nationally representative baseline survey of ICT needs and usage in Myanmar showed a gender gap  in mobile ownership of 29%  by March 2015.  Together with GSM Association’s Connected Women program, LIRNEasia explored the reasons behind this gender gap through a series of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions held in Yangon (urban) and Pantanaw (rural) among 91 men and women in July 2015. Further questions on mobile internet awareness and use, as well as barriers to use were explored, yielding a rich set of findings and a large set of policy recommendations. Read full report: Mobile phones, internet, and gender in Myanmar
As part of electricity work LIRNEasia has made recommendations on the importance of DSM in Sri Lanka. Effective DSM is not possible without smart meters and that was an important part of the message, when we were invited by the Colombo Electricity Board (CEB) to share our research with their senior management. So it was with great interest that I perused the research of one of the winning finalists  from a Big Data Challenge conducted by Telecom Italia (and partners) with data pertaining to the territories of Milan and of the Autonomous Province of Trento in Italy. The datasets covered telecommunications, energy, weather, public and private transport, social networks and events. The researchers utilized smart meter data and behavioral data extracted from the Telecom Italia’s transaction generated data to predict peak daily energy consumption and also the average daily energy consumption for each line through the electrical grid of the Trentino Province.
Today, our CEO Helani Galpaya was on a panel “Harnessing the power of convergence and big data for enterprise success” at a Sri Lankan summit called “Enterprise 2.0: building future ready enterprises” (full video of the panel session is available HERE). I thought some of the ideas she proposed about were worthy of further discussion.  LIRNEasia is curently working on utilizing telecom network Transaction Generated Information (TGI) to conduct public interest research using big data. One of her comments was about how companies are not fully appreciating the value of the data that they have.
LIRNEasia’s preliminary round of mobile broadband quality testing in selected locations in Western Province unveils both hopes and issues. The good news is that the quality of both key pre-paid mobile broadband services is satisfactory, in majority of locations. However, unusual quality drops in several places indicates that this performance is not always a certainty. In general, a mobile broadband user in Western Province can expect a reasonable quality unless a rare issue like the distance from a tower or a higher number of simultaneous users hinders it. LIRNEasia tested the broadband quality of the popular pre-paid High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) broadband connections of the two key providers.
CHAKULA is a newsletter produced by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Named after the Swahili word for ‘food’, it aims to mobilise African civil society around ICT policy for sustainable development and social justice issues. The latest issue features an e-interview with LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, but it is not the only reason why we thought of highlighting the issue. The content is interesting and very readable. We publish two e-interviews from July 2010 issue here fully, as they are not available on public domain.
We have been following the emotionally loaded net neutrality debate for some time with some detachment. Our research clearly shows that low prices are critical if the BOP is to join the Internet economy and that low prices are not sustainable without the adaptation of the budget telecom network model to broadband supply. One of the most controversial of the recommendations that came out of this work is that which said one should go gentle on regulating quality. The main reason we said that was because we believed that the poor needed access in the form of different price-quality bundles; that if high quality standards were imposed by fiat, the only victims would be the price-sensitive consumers who would get priced out. While we did not take an explicit position on net neutrality those days, we now have to, based on what we have learned.
The UK regulator, Ofcom, has proposed cuts in interconnection fees (also known as mobile termination rates), the wholesale charges that operators make to connect calls to each others’ networks. It has unveiled plans to cut the rate in stages from 4.3 pence ($0.065) per minute to 0.005 pence per minute by 2015.
In an interesting post, that we recommend you read in full, Micheal Gurstein makes the case for telecenters despite the Nenasala debacle of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka. Here is his key question: Or to put the question another way—what do we lose if we (or rural Sri Lankans) only have mobile communications with optional access to the Internet and we by-pass the personal computer completely? What happens if that becomes the communications paradigm for a range of countries such as Sri Lanka who, having not managed to effectively respond to the digital divide to this point, decide basically to give up the fight and leave it all to the ambitions and creativity of the mobile operators. We can say more, much more (and have, with more evidence than casual observation), but here is the comment I left on his blog: “Give up the fight and leave it all to the ambition and creativity of the mobile operators?” Well, isn’t that a smooth rhetorical move?
Google has announced that it will be rolling out superfast broadband as demonstration projects. “Google, indeed, appears to be playing a chess game,” said David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “If they can create an even mildly credible commitment to offer superfast broadband to the home, it could strike fear in the hearts of cable and telcos, stimulating an arms race of investment — just as they did in the auction for spectrum a few years ago.” In a post on its corporate blog, Google said it planned to build and test a high-speed fiber optic broadband network capable of allowing people to surf the Web at a gigabit a second, or about 100 times the speed of many broadband connections.
It is nice to know that we at LIRNEasia have been ahead of the curve on Broadband QoSE, including on understanding it as more than simply download speed. Professor Gonsalves’s paper on the subject is here. The NYT today carried a story that says many of the things we have been talking about for the past two years. Tracking the speed of Internet service is becoming more and more important as everyone asks the Internet to do more than handle e-mail messages and Web pages. A few lines of text can take its time arriving, but applications sending voice calls or streaming video become unusable if there is too much delay in delivery.
Will the shift to mobile as the primary interface to the Internet, dethrone search engines such as Google, that generate their revenues from advertising? An interesting discussion in NYT. As people increasingly rely on powerful mobile phones instead of PCs to access the Web, their surfing habits are bound to change. What’s more, online advertising could lose its role as the Web’s primary economic engine, putting Google’s leadership role into question. “The new paradigm is mobile computing and mobility,” said David B.
In a major win for think tanks seeking to bring evidence to the policy process in developing countries, the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa, by its decision The Competition Commission of South Africa v TELKOM (Case No: 623/2008), has unequivocally overruled the claims of bias leveled against the LINK Centre, then headed by our colleague Alison Gillwald (now heading Research ICTs Africa). In addition to getting its odd argument rejected, Telkom will have to pay a 3.7 Billion Rand fine plus costs. Ouch! Alison is the featured dinner speaker at CPRsouth4 in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on December 7th.
We reproduce fully below, Carlos A. Afonso’s post to a thread on Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility responding to discussions at the IGF workshop “Expanding broadband access for a global Internet economy: development dimensions”, in which Rohan Samarajiva, Chair/CEO LIRNEasia was the keynote speaker. We retain the original title. As neither we nor most of our readers do not have access to the thread it was posted, we like to continue the discussion here. __________________________________________________________________ Hi people, I come from one of the ten largest economies in the world, with nearly 200 million people, 8.
In Thailand, the mean price of a new mobile phone purchased by a bottom of the pyramid user is USD 96 and a used phone costs USD 38. In this context the whole idea that a laptop designed to connect with the Internet will cost USD 49-99, is mind boggling. This will make our thesis of a mobile-centric path to the Internet that much more realistic. And wireless phone carriers might well start calling them something else entirely as they race to begin selling laptops with bundled data plans directly to consumers. “We have been flying the carriers around the world,” said Michael Rayfield, the general manager of mobile products for Nvidia, one of many chip companies producing parts for these new laptops.
Much of LIRNEasia’s work is premised on the mobile serving as the pathway to the Internet us by those at the bottom of the pyramid. Our African colleague takes a slightly different position. We will restate our position with supporting evidence from the Teleuse @ BOP research in Cape Town in April. I am sure the differences in opinion will help us improve our analyses. But is this optimism justified?

On the cons of satellites

Posted by on February 13, 2009  /  4 Comments

Satellites were the darlings of the development set back when I was in grad school in the 1980s.   When I returned to Sri Lanka and started working at the Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Modern Technologies, one of my assignments was to get Sri Lanka connected to the Internet via satellite.  It didn’t, and I left. As a result, I’ve acquired quite a bit of knowledge on satellites along the way.