It started in Rohan Samarajiva’s room at  Islamabad Serena Hotel during April 2010. I explained him the fundamental barrier to affordable broadband across developing Asia. I also showed him the way to solve the problem – laying fiber along Asian Highway to build a transcontinental open access terrestrial network. Rohan was on board. He would later briefed ESCAP, the UN outfit that fosters Asian Highway.
The above is what I have been able to piece together from multiple news reports out of Myanmar. I have not been able to locate the texts of the revised by-law (we have only the draft we commented on) and license (hopefully what the four operators will get is the same). “Rules have been adopted on equal terms. We can now grant a licence because the telecommunications law has been approved. When the by-law comes out, we will issue licences for other services such as internet.

Big Data and Social Science Research

Posted on February 1, 2014  /  0 Comments

The availability massive data bases and the ability to mine those has opened possibilities of data-based research to  understand social phenomena,  but social science in its present form in the developing world may not be able to meet the challenge. While the clamour for open data and open science/social science should continue no doubt , equal attention should be paid to the demand side, the demand –side for social data. Do traditional university departments and think tanks devoted to social science and media have the capacity to use such data? Do traditional media which have the responsibility to bring the research to the public sphere have the capacity to do so? This lacuna was highlighted in the Round Table on Consultation on Science and Social Science Research organized by the Centre for Culture Media and Governance of the Jamia Millia Islamia University and Canada’s IDRC during 25-26 November, 2013.
To complete the tritych on companies transitioning to the mobile-centric future, here are some thoughts and facts about Google’s progress, or lack thereof: Despite Google’s mobile challenges, among web businesses it might be the biggest beneficiary so far of consumers’ shift to mobile devices. Google services are the top web property on smartphones, reaching 87 percent of the mobile audience through apps and mobile browsing, according to comScore. (Facebook is next with 85 percent.) And Google earned 42 percent of all mobile ad revenue in the United States last year, significantly more than any other company, according to eMarketer. Its share of mobile revenue, however, was down from 50 percent the year before and is not growing as quickly as that of Twitter, Apple and Facebook.
We’ve been talking up the replacement of desktops (and then laptops) by mobile wireless devices for a long time. Here’s more proof that the future is as foretold: Lenovo ascended to the top tier of technology companies two years ago, surpassing Hewlett-Packard to become the world’s largest maker of personal computers. But with the PC market in steady decline, Lenovo had already been making drastic moves to ensure its future viability. “We’re already seeing the demise of the PC market,” said Shahid Khan, a managing partner at the Meridian Advisory Group. “This is foresight on their part.

Facebook makes the transition to mobile

Posted on January 30, 2014  /  0 Comments

The discussion on whether Facebook will succeed in making the transition to a mobile-dominated world happened on these pages as well. But now the numbers have come in. The transition is done. About 757 million people around the world used the social network on an average day last month, and three-quarters of them logged on using mobile devices. Facebook’s business has also been transformed.
Claudia Dreifus of the New York Times has had a casual discussion with Salman Khan of Khan Academy. Few of her questions were: Youtube is a search engine where producers can upload short videos at no cost. Would the Khan Academy have been possible without this technology? Last April, when administrators at San Jose State university wanted to use Harvard’s online version of Professor Michael Sandel’s “Justice” course as the basis of their undergraduate philosophy class, some San Jose State faculty members protested, saying the school was shortchanging students. Were the professors resisting progress?
TeleGeography’s 2014 Submarine Cable Map shows 285 cable systems that are currently active or will be activated by 2015. It also shows the location of 44 cable laying vessels as of  December 6, 2013. An inset map presents geographically accurate submarine cable paths and cable maintenance zones. This year’s map incorporates coverage of the companies that lay and maintain submarine cables: The Protectors of the Internet. Information graphics provide detailed information on the following: Cable landing stations in key regions; Cable faults and repairs, including the number of breaks and mean time to commence repair by country; Cable system components and cross-section; Cable route seabed profiles.
The South Asian Forum for Infrastructure Regulation (SAFIR) is a 14-year old platform that brings the region’s regulators together to share experiences and build capacity. Today, LIRNEasia presented for the first time the findings from its research on how customer relationships can be improved in electricity and telecom sectors using the capabilities of mobile platforms. The presentation.
I am privileged to offer a workshop module on research to policy as part of a media and governance refresher course offered for Indian university faculty from multiple disciplines by the Jamia Millia Islamia University’s Center for Culture, Media and Governance. I anchored my presentation on specific research-based policy interventions undertaken by LIRNEasia which happened to deal with infrastructure issues such as telecom and electricity but the discussion was wide ranging given the multiple disciplines represented in the room. Here are the three presentations used in yesterday’s interactive sessions. Introduction and measuring impact Indian policy processes What kind of evidence
It appears that the finalization of the rules that we commented on is the cause of the delay in issuing licenses to Telenor and Ooredoo. This is not really a bad thing. It is always better to have the rules embodied in generally applicable law and rules than in individual licenses (which would have been the alternative approach). “We are working on finalising five applicable rules for the Telecom Law by the end of January. We have already negotiated with foreign telecom operators about applying detailed rules and regulations of the law so they are able to start their businesses,” he said, adding that the five provisions have already been sent to the Attorney-General’s Office.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has started its approval process on a new broadband standard that could potentially achieve 1 Gbps speeds (within 250m) on the existing copper access networks (press release). This is particularly good news for developing economies that already have / have started laying FTTC (fiber to the cabinet) / FTTdp (fiber to the distribution point). Market players and regulators should not intend to differ plans of FTTH (fiber to the home) implementations, certainly on new builds; however, it will now be possible for the majority to still enjoy much faster speeds at (hopefully) the same cost. It will also benefit the operators in developed economies who have been battling with the costs associated with fiber deployments to scarcely populated areas. This piece by Huawei  provides some interesting technical detail.
John Podesta is no stranger to privacy issues. I can remember some interactions with him in the context of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) during the Clinton Presidency. He has now been tasked with producing a big data-privacy report in 90 days. We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used. The immense volume, diversity and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy, and public policy.

Can Android be trusted at all?

Posted on January 23, 2014  /  0 Comments

Cisco’s annual security report has said that 99% of the total mobile malware targets Android devices. The report highlights the current security concerns and trends in vulnerabilities so that users can build more effective countermeasures. The report also said that mobile malware constituted of 1.2% of all web malware encounters during 2013. Another highlight from the report is that 71% of web-delivered malware was meant for Android only.
Government agencies are slow with procurement. This is common knowledge. Despite this common knowledge, the Telecom Minister and Mr Sam Pitroda decided to implement the NOFN using government entities only. It is also common practice for government entities to engage in the blame game, diverting precious effort from fixing the problems. All these not-unexpected things are happening right now.
Organized by LIRNEasia and Centre for Culture Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia University (with support from Ford Foundation). For persons residing in India only. The objective of the four-day residential course on How to engage in Broadband Policy and Regulatory Processes is to produce discerning and knowledgeable consumers of research who are able to engage in broadband policy and regulatory processes. At the end of the course attendees will:  Be able to find and assess relevant research & evidence  Be able to summarize the research in a coherent and comprehensive manner  Have an understanding of broadband policy and regulatory processes in India  Have the necessary tools to improve their communication skills  Have some understanding of media function and how to effectively interact with media Who may apply? We will be selecting 20-25 participants (including junior – mid level officers of government and regulatory agencies, university students, lecturers, academics, media personnel and other civil society officers working in related fields) to participate in the course.