Tutorials at CPRsouth8/CPRafrica2013

Posted on September 17, 2013  /  1 Comments

Young scholars from Africa and Asia attended the tutorials that was held at the Infosys Campus, Mysore India. The group consisted of entry level regulatory officers, officers from private sector, students and researchers. They represented 16 countries from the south. The tutorials were taught by Rohan Samarajiva, PhD on the use of supply side data, evidence in the policy process and communicating research, Christopher Stork, PhD on demand side research and conducting a literature review, Marcio Aranha on legal analysis, Ang Peng Hwa, PhD on research on internet governance and Sujata Gamage, PhD on writing a policy brief. The tutorials presentations can be accessed here.
It would have been 21, if only the Indian Embassy in Tehran did not require more than 60 days to process a visa. We were proud to have organized, with the invaluable cooperation of the Rural Business Technology Incubator at IIT Madras, the CPRsouth8/CPRafrica 2013 conference at the Infosys Campus in Mysore. India contributed the largest number of participants to the speakers, including Dr Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary of the Department of Electronic and Information Technology. From Africa, we had a member of the Communication Commission of Kenya, Dr Monica Kerrets-Makau, and an advisor to the Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology, Dr Abiodun Jagun. From the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and South Korea were represented.
We’ve kept saying this, because that is what we see from our demand-side research. But Manu Joseph, a novelist, says it better in a New York Times op-ed. Too many people presume that what the poor want from the Internet are the crucial necessities of life. In reality, the enchantment of the Internet is that it’s a lot of fun. And fun, even in poor countries, is a profound human need.
Ranjula Senaratna Perera, a Researcher at LIRNEasia did a presentation on a policy brief  “Delivering government services to the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh: Telecenters, mobile or both?” at the CPRsouth conference held at the Infosys campus in Mysore, India from 5-7 September 2013. The paper was co-authored with Ayesha Zainudeen and Helani Galpaya. The findings were based on a 4550 sample survey, funded by World Bank.The presentation invoked discussion on the sustainability of telecenters and also gender differences in the use of telecenters.
LIRNEasia was recently asked to sign a declaration on Internet rights. We do not normally sign declarations unless we have done the research to back up our signature. Another reason for declining at this time was my wariness about right-based approaches. I prefer the Deng Xiao Ping approach of crossing the river by feeling the stones. We need to figure out, for example, what is practical with regard to big data before imposing rights and policy solutions imported from other contexts to something that we are all unfamiliar with.
It appears that ability to invest was a critical factor in the selection of Ooredoo and Telenor as the first foreign private licensees in the Myanmar telecom sector. Both have committed to low-price mobile services. Telenor has considerable experience in running profitable operations using the Budget Telecom Network business model. Ooredoo can, I suppose, buy that expertise. If they do not succeed in running a BTN model in Myanmar, it will be their money that will go down the drain.

Internet, economic growth, and innovation

Posted on September 13, 2013  /  0 Comments

(photo courtesy of Business Times) I was recently invited to be on SLASSCOM panel on “Impact of policies concerning the Internet on innovation and economic growth.” There were multiple topics discussed under the broader theme: content regulation, ITU/WCIT, Intermediary Liability Protection, Intellectual Property, and Open Data. Whilst time was too short to fully address each of these issues, hopefully this event encourages further discussion about these issues in Sri Lanka. Whilst the press seemed to have taken some interest on my comments on ITU/ WCIT issues, one of the things that I highlighted was that Open Data initiatives could be started by the relatively non-controversial opening up of all the agricultural data that in contained in government agencies, ministries and institutes. The recently launched open data portal in India has about 3.
President Obama’s support for surveillance predates his election. I believe that he has assessed the pros and cons of surveillance and concluded that it is necessary. The question then is how it is to be regulated, so that that negative outcomes can be minimized. One possible path is a variation of the FISA oversight solution, but with greater transparency. This may be the path being explored by Senator Markey, perhaps one of the most well informed US legislators on telecom and ICT matters.

China tries to control social media

Posted on September 11, 2013  /  0 Comments

How can a person be responsible for, and have his punishment decided by, what others do? But this seems to be the thinking of the Chinese Communist Party. “They want to sever those relationships and make the relationship on Weibo atomized, just like relations in Chinese society, where everyone is just a solitary atom,” Mr. Hao said. In May, his microblog accounts on Sina and other Chinese services were deleted without any explanation.
Can the telcos work out deals with OTTs about the traffic they carry? Or do they have to be absolutely neutral? These are the questions. The outcome will reverberate across the world. The case, which is expected to be decided late this year or early next year, has attracted enormous interest.
When asked about emerging trends of relevance to those picking research topics at the recent CPRsouth conference, I pointed to the growing importance of the badly named “big data” or its more analytically satisfying subset of transaction generated data (TGD) or information (Thomas McManus coined TGI back in 1991; TGD is more accurate). It’s going to be big data in everything. Even the shift to MOOCs is driven by the need for TGD, according to the NYT. There are potential advantages to this shift. When students are logged on, educators can monitor their work in ways that are otherwise impossible.
The Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) issued a consultation paper on the draft  quality of service (QoS) regulation, that covers both fixed and mobile, voice and data QoS standards. LIRNEasia has been working on Broadband QoS experience (QoSE) since 2007. We use our own web and desktop based software application, the AT Tester, to run diagnostics in multiple around South Asian and Southeast Asian cities. Although Nepal has not been a country subject to LIRNEasia ‘s broadband QoSE research, the methodology adapted and trends from regional research are able to provide informed insights to the NTA. Click here for LIRNEasia’s comments.
Adrenaline didn’t flow in Bangladesh 3G auction today. It could be anything but auction when four bidders show up for four licenses. Bangladesh government has priced US$20 million per Megahertz for 40 MHz of spectrum in 2100 MHz band. It is in addition to 10 MHz spectrum being assigned to state-owned Teletalk. Theoretically, Grameenphone (Telenor), Banglalink (Vimpelcom), Robi (Axiata) and Airtel (Bharti Airtel) could have had at least 10 MHz each.
Duenden Nikomborirak is a highly respected researcher. We have worked closely with her over the years. I was shocked to hear that the Thai regulatory agency had sued her (and the journalist who interviewed her) for libel. The robust debate and discussion essential for effective regulation cannot occur if researchers are sued for expressing their scholarly opinions. I am happy that the NBTC is withdrawing the case, but this is an action that should not have been taken in the first place.
At the Infosys training campus in Mysore, ably served by a subset of the 7,000 employees who keep this place ticking like clockwork, we are running the pre-conference CPRsouth8 tutorials. Close to 30 young scholars (we lost several Iranian students who had applied well in time due to the obduracy of the Indian visa authorities) from Asia and Africa are engaging with the challenges of doing policy-relevant ICT research. The slidesets are downloadable here.
CPRsouth (through LIRNEasia) is offering a unique opportunity to be trained and to work on systematic reviews. The systematic review method is gaining wide traction in the fields of social science and international development. The method is championed by international agencies such the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank. Considerable funding has been made available to trained reviewers by DFID, AusAid and 3ie over the past three years. A systematic review (SR) synthesizes and summarizes the best available primary research on a specific research question.