United States

Two years ago the New York Times reported that global internet traffic has been increasingly avoiding the United States. It means the US intelligence establishments were increasingly losing control over the other countries’ cyber data. That was the twilight of George Bush 2.0 era. Now the US and 39 or more countries are secretly negotiating a new global agreement called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
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 US universal service fund is among the oldest and most inefficient, spending more on administration than comparators and not targeting the subsidies well. Our research has been cited in debates about improving it. The FCC under the Obama appointed Chair does not appear to be engaging in fundamental reforms, but is instead seeking to use the Fund as the main vehicle for executing its broadband plans. Instead of repurposing the existing funds, it is raising additional money by taxing customers of the telcos. Chief among its goals, the F.
The title is bold, we agree, but it is true. The FCC is asking broadband and smartphone users in USA to use their broadband testing tools to help the feds and consumers know what speeds are actually available, not just promised by the nations’ telecoms, reports wired.com. Starting yesterday (March 11), netizens can go to the FCC’s Broadband.gov site, enter their address and test their broadband speed using one of two testing tools.
Services trade, especially mode 1 services trade where the buyer remains in the buyer’s country and the seller remains in the seller’s country, is critical to the development of emerging economies. India has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of liberalized trade, but the NYT article below shows that the US is also a clear winner. The full article is worth a read. For example, will Washington offer tax breaks or other export incentives? While businesses may clamor for them, these would be a setback for freer trade — after all, for years it has been America that has been hectoring other countries to end their subsidies to exporters.
The world’s fastest txters are South Koreans, followed by US and Argentina. What does this mean for the Philippines status as SMS Capital of the World? The inaugural Mobile World Cup, hosted by the South Korean cellphone maker LG Electronics, brought together two-person teams from 13 countries who had clinched their national titles by beating a total of six million contestants. Marching behind their national flags, they gathered in New York on Jan. 14 for what was billed as an international clash of dexterous digits.

How broad is your broadband?

Posted by on November 25, 2009  /  1 Comments

Based on LIRNEasia’s broadband QoSE research findings, we ran an advertisement in the Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka’s leading English daily) on 24 November 2009.  The advertisement focused on four facts. The first three were on value for money, advertised download speed as opposed to actual download speed and bandwidth bottlenecks.  The lack of regulation on contention ratios (how many users per “channel”) was highlighted as the fourth fact We pointed out that LIRNEasia’s recommendation about imposing contention ratios of 1:20 (Business) and 1:50 (Residential) had been adopted by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), with minor changes.  TRAI mandates contention ratios of 1:30 for Business and 1:50 for Residential.
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.
Does Facebook make you less social? Not necessarily. Not if you’re American, according to a NYT report. Hundreds of daily updates come from friends on Facebook and Twitter, but do people actually feel closer to each other? It turns out the size of the average American’s social circle is smaller today than 20 years ago, as measured by the number of self-reported confidants in a person’s life.

Relevant social science

Posted by on October 20, 2009  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia has been pretty successful at doing policy-relevant research and communicating the results to the policy process. Interestingly we have gone deeper into the use of statistics over this period, without giving up on institutional analysis. In this context, it is quite interesting to see how the debate is playing out in the context of a US Senator’s move to prohibit federal funding of social science. What remains, though, is a nagging concern that the field is not producing work that matters. “The danger is that political science is moving in the direction of saying more and more about less and less,” said Joseph Nye, a professor at the John F.
This is no news, but we now have evidence. Overall, North American broadband users are certainly luckier than their South Asia counterparts. (Please note exceptions!) All four North American broadband packages tested for the Oct 2009 release performed better than any of the nine South Asian ones for value for money in accessing an international server. In other words, the USA and Canadian users pay less for the same amount of bandwidth even ignoring PPP.
  Anybody could have guessed this. It is unimaginable that entire world will go through a recession simultaneously. Not everyone can be losers for too long. There should be winners somewhere. For example, what would the US firms that find their human resources costs, logically do?
Voice is becoming a commodity. Mobile operators have to think of new services that people will pay for. Here is one. It’s not porn. It’s intervention from a government agency to prevent teen pregnancies.
Several years back, Korea topped the OECD’s broadband rankings and the ITU’s Digital Opportunity Index. That caused a lot of countries to reexamine their broadband policies. It caused others to develop new indices. The NYT carries a report on one: After the United States, the ranking found that Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway rounded out the five most productive users of connectivity. Japan ranked 10, and Korea, 18.
In the course of her research on India’s telecom policy and regulatory environment, LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow Payal Malik calculated the HHIs for different circles in India and found them to be very low.  Drawing on other TRE research and the literature, she has made a comparative assessment of the level of competition in India and a prognostication on the direction of mobile tariffs in an interview with the Economic Times. Lirneasia’s senior research fellow Payal Malik had published the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) – the index for market concentration – in the telecom markets of South Asian countries, last year. Lower the HHI, higher the competitiveness in a market. India’s turned out to be the lowest at 2000, as compared to Indonesia’s 3400 and Thailand’s 3900.
The story is based on US data, but it is still grist for the mill as we think about how the mobile and Internet will change the mediasphere in emerging Asia. We are so smitten with screens that we often can’t bear to choose one over another: 31 percent of Internet use occurs while we’re in front of a TV set. We are also taking an interest in watching video on our phones: 100 million handsets are video-capable.