This RFP invites Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct comparative nationwide studies of ICT access and use in 2017 in Cambodia and Pakistan. Bidders may bid for an individual country or both countries together. However, bidders that bid for both countries will be at a significant technical advantage. The full RFP can be downloaded here, with Annexure 3 and Annexure 4-5.
Inviting Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct a nationwide study of how experiences and perceptions about online security, harassment and privacy impact Internet use in Myanmar. The study is to be conducted in the months of July and August in Myanmar, with emphasis on urban areas in certain states/regions. The full RFP is downloadable here.
The first time we taught a course in Nepal, one of the participants discovered that only 2.6 percent of the universal service funds collected in 17 years had been disbursed. We are hoping for something even better this time. Here is an excerpt from the syllabus: In India, especially in the central government, telecom policies tend to be developed through consultative processes and are taken seriously. In other countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, policy formulation and implementation is weak.
LIRNEasia is calling for proposals from field research organisations for the conduct of comparative nationwide quantitative studies of ICT access and use in Cambodia and Pakistan. The deadline for submission is 0800hrs Sri Lanka time, 24 July 2017. Details of the study and instructions to interested parties are contained within the following request for proposals (RFP), which can be downloaded here. Interested parties should request Annexes 3-5 to the RFP by way of an email to procurement[at]lirneasia[dot]net.  

White spaces, again

Posted on July 11, 2017  /  0 Comments

It was in 2007 that we first wrote about white spaces. Ten years later, the talk continues. The technology is sometimes known as “super Wi-Fi” because it behaves like regular Wi-Fi but uses low-powered television channels to cover far greater distances than wireless hot spots. It is also more powerful than cellular service because the frequencies can penetrate concrete walls and other obstacles. Promoting the white-spaces technology could reap rewards for tech companies: The remaining 24.
Big data is a team sport. We have people with different skill sets in our team. I can’t code, but I sit in on meeting where arcane details of software are discussed. Our coders spend most of their time on analytics, but think about broader issues such as fairness. So here is a snippet that had the eye of Lasantha Fernando: If you’ve ever applied for a loan or checked your credit score, algorithms have played a role in your life.
A course with the following objectives, attended by over 30 persons from all sectors of Nepal society, will commence on 14th July. To enable members of Nepal civil-society groups and media personnel marshal available research and evidence for effective participation in broadband policy and regulatory processes including interactions with media, thereby facilitating and enriching policy discourse on means of increasing broadband access by the poor and persons with disabilities. Those from government and the private sector will also benefit. The objective of the course 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 and evidence  Be able to summarize the research in a coherent and comprehensive manner  Have an understanding of broadband policy and regulatory processes in Nepal The course is supported by the Ford Foundation and is the seventh in a series of courses offered in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka since 2013.
As people live longer and elder dependency (ratio of adults to working population) increases. How to give the elderly a productive life without imposing a heavy burden on the taxpayer will be one of the most important public policy challenges. The Economist examines the issues, looking, among other things at, ICTs: Encouragingly, in every centre for seniors visited for this report, from New York to Seoul, the most popular classes were in the use of smartphones and tablets, often sponsored by telecoms companies who spotted an opportunity. If insurers and health-care providers do not come up with a funding model, tech and telecoms companies may eat their lunch.
This is getting to be boring. Every few years, decision makers at TRAI and DoT float balloons about reducing the USO levy. We write commending it. Nothing happens. Another official said that besides increasing the payment tenure, the 5% levy towards Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) could also be reduced, more so as it would bring down the licence fee component for telcos without impacting the government’s revenues.
We spent a lot of time thinking about service-quality in relation to electricity and telecom services in 2012-14. We organized the 2013 SAFIR core training course around the theme of service quality. But the work has more to contribute. The current controversies around private medical education has brought to the fore many neglected issues related to service industries, including the question of service quality or standards. The op-ed seeking to respond some of these erroneous claims states: As shown by the example of automobile service above, the burden on the regulatory agency is much less when competition exists.
The talk is about 2G networks being shut down and the frequencies repurposed for other uses. But of course this step will take a lot more time in countries where feature phones still predominate. Perhaps Myanmar will be the first. The first 2G network was commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa) in 1991. In December 2016, Australia’s largest mobile operator Telstra closed its 2G network, which was in operation for more than 23 years.
In a “parable” I wrote some time back, I indicated that it made sense for companies such as Google to build their own international backhaul capacity or enter into joint ventures to build the cables. Telegeography says it is so: But there is a cautionary note. A lot of the build—or a lot of the demand for new capacity build is coming from content providers. Really big content providers. And within that group just a handful of companies.
It seems everyone is talking about digital platforms and digital labor.  This is not surprising, given the amount of news Uber alone is creating in many countries, including the ones LIRNEasia works in.  Everyone is worried about the impacts on labor and working conditions, while some are optimistic about the welfare effects created, especially for consumers who now have more choice and often cheaper rides. Last year we completed the Sri Lanka part of a project looking at a specific type of platform-enabled economic activity that completes a transition with the buyer and seller never meeting – that of on online freelancing and microwork.  We are now looking at the same phenomena in India, and will soon start the same research in Myanmar.
When people were getting their knickers in a twist in relation to Y2K problem, I was in government. I used to get a lot of questions about it. Part of my job was to prepare for all eventualities, without creating unnecessary panic. My response Y2K hype always included reference to a Sinhala aphorism about people who slept on mats on the floor had little to fear about falling off beds. Appears that logic will not apply to cyber warfare.
Below is what I planned to say when introducing a panel on foreign policy for national development at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute on the 29th of June. Given time constraints, I did not say it all, but it reflects what I did say. Sri Lanka is like Greater Mumbai. Our small size as well as our location define our position in the world and determine our foreign policy. As we become wealthier as a country and as individuals, much of our consumption is of foreign made goods.