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It is sad that government suppliers shielded from competitive pressure do not learn, and keep repeating the same mistakes. Our Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan has several comments in this Daily Star piece about the problems with how SEA-ME-WE 5 has been handled by the government companies. Though the task of laying the second submarine cable up to Kuakata landing station in Patuakhali was completed eight months ago for Tk 660 crore, the cable could not be connected to the inland network due to the BTCL’s failure to ensure an uninterrupted inland link. The government announced inaugurating the commercial use of the cable in mid-March. Later, it deferred the date to July 31.
Managing relationships with Ministries and Presidents: contributing to policy development Alison Gillwald Course on Regulatory design and practice Nay Pyi Taw September 2017  
We have been thinking about insurance in the context of disasters ever since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Recently, we discussed insurance as part of the work we did for ESCAP on resilient ICT infrastructure. There, we came up against the problem of concentrated damage and difficulties of spreading risks discussed in relation to flood insurance in the Economist: Another obstacle is that flooding is very heavily concentrated and owners of high-risk properties are far more likely to seek insurance, making it difficult to spread risks. But other countries show how private insurance markets can play a bigger role. In Britain private insurers include flood coverage as part of standard policies, so risks are distributed across a wider pool of policyholders.
Unlike many countries, Sri Lanka did not impose a universal-service levy on customers of telecom services, directly or indirectly. One reason was the clause in the SLT privatization agreements that no universal-service levies would be imposed on the company. When you exempt the biggest player, you can’t then go and impose levies on the competitors. So that was an intended good result of the privatization. However, when the international telecom market was liberalized in 2003, the government imposed certain fees on incoming and outgoing calls that were to be kept in a fund and given to the companies which generated the calls when they provided documentation that approved rural infrastructure investments had been completed.
Agenda – Broadband Forum 2017 It has been a while since we have engaged with telecom policy and regulation in Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Telecom and Digital Infrastructure invited me to speak at their flagship event sponsored by Huawei. Our research has been on broadband in countries in the region. So the talk seeks to draw out the lessons from the region for Sri Lanka.
Course Report Regulatory design and practice Sharing international experience with Myanmar 4-6 September 2017 Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar  
The economist celebrates Bangladesh’s achievements, caused in part by Pakistan’s census showing that it has more people than earlier estimated, thus decreasing the per-capita GDP. When the new population numbers are applied to the indicators that contribute to the ITU’s 2016 ICT Development Index, it is likely that the current virtual tie between Bangladesh and Pakistan will change to a significant lead for Bangladesh. This is nonetheless a good moment to celebrate Bangladesh’s economic progress. Its annual growth has averaged more than 6% over the past ten years and has run above 7% over the past two. Industry accounts for 29% of its GDP.
Just a few days ago, I wrote about an Australian scholar expressing skepticism about the importance of Facebook as a news channel. I referred to Pew Research on the subject from 2016. Now the 2017 results are in: As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. This is a modest increase since early 2016, when (during the height of the presidential primaries) 62% of U.S.
In the course of teaching a course for the staff of the Post and Telecom Department of the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communication, I had occasion to look again at the comments we had submitted back on December 2013 for a consultation on draft regulations for the sector. This is from a comment on the regulations governing competition and price regulation: 30.5 Given the relative inexperience of the regulator in competition law and policy, the paucity of technical skills may well be a significant problem. Therefore, it may be prudent to establish a list of regulatory priorities and focus the existing human capital resources on the most important tasks. For instance, ensuring interconnection and access to new entrants is a key priority.
Shazna Zuhyle, a researcher from Colombo-based LIRNEasia, a regional policy research body will chair an International Telecommunication Union expert group meeting. The 8th meeting of the Expert Group on Telecommunication/ICT Indicators will start on September 12 in Geneva. It will consider a revision to the current data, messaging and voice price benchmarks, which are used by international organizations to rank countries and built composite indices to measure development goals. EconomyNext report.
Yesterday, we were discussing how a regulatory agency could become a learning organization. I was thinking of a parsimonious indicator. Why not resources spent on learning/training activities? How much did the organization spend on activities associated with training/learning? Actual money spent on fees, travel, per diems etc.
In relation to past promises, USD 1.5 billion may not be much, but I place little weight on promises of investment anyway. More significant is VietTel’s promise to allow roaming at domestic-like prices in the Greater Mekong Region. Now this too has been talked about. But not acted upon so far.
Just over four years ago, in August 2013, Helani Galpaya and I came to Nay Pyi Taw to deliver the regulatory module of a multi-day course offered by a number of different organizations, including the GSMA and the World Bank. For me, it the second visit to Myanmar and the first to Nay Pyi Taw, the mysterious new capital of an enigmatic state. For Helani, it was the first visit the country. It is customary in these kinds of events for the “dignitary” who inaugurates the event to make his speech and then leave. Deputy Minister U Thaung Tin was different.
Myanmar is one of the great success stories in telecom reform. When the government set the target of 80 SIMs/100 within five years back in 2013, many people doubted it could be done. But it has been done and exceeded. Myanmar’s smartphone penetration is now similar to that of the United States. One shortcoming was the establishment of the independent regulatory body within two years, as promised in the Law of 2013.
Christoph Stork of Research ICT Africa/Research ICT Action gave a master class in how to communicate complex research findings to policy makers, based on the policy briefs submitted by the presenters in the CPRsouth 2017 Conference Session 8 “ICTs to achieve broader public-policy objectives.” Here is the slideset.