Blog — Page 51 of 337 — LIRNEasia


The legislation creating the Public Utilities Commission and the Telecom Regulatory Commission specifically provide for the regulatory bodies to have their own funds. The Minister of Finance in the 2017 Budget has announced he intends to expropriate the money in the funds and give it out on request. My response in today’s Daily FT: It is customary for independent, sector-specific regulatory agencies to have a separate fund. The agency is operated with fees and other payments from the entities that it regulates that go into this fund. The principal rationale is insulation from pressure that could be exerted by the Government which could use disbursements from the consolidated fund as a carrot or a stick.
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is in charge of national policies and economic affairs. The Minister of Finance is in charge of finance, the money the government raises and the money it spends. As a result, the Prime Minister presents an economic policy statement before the budget is read. So it was with some surprise that I saw many policy proposals that did not have direct revenue/expenditure implications in the 2017 Budget, such as extension of the duration of visas issued to spouses of Sri Lankan citizens. The digital commerce proposal is also a policy proposal, but given the objective of ensuring the collection of relevant taxes, one could see a rationale for it being in the Budget Speech.
The Tamil mediasphere in Sri Lanka has been over-determined by the political. Now that we’re reverting to a more normal country, it’s time for economic issues to be covered. A group of volunteers including LIRNEasia’s Suthaharan Perampalan assembled a group of eager Tamil media personnel for training program today. I was one of the speakers. Here are the slides I prepared but was not able to use because the projector went on the blink.
My talk at the International Research Conference on Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura has been published in a newspaper. I described two critical issues facing our country and highlighted the dearth of good evidence. In the concluding part, from which the excerpt is taken, I discussed the challenge of maintaining quality. We must do these hard things, subjecting ourselves to the highest levels of quality control. Because the only thing worse than not being engaged with the policy process is its pollution by the introduction of bad research into it.
The University of Sri Jayewardenepura is organizing an International Conference on Humanities and the Social Sciences, 10-11 November 2016. A principal focus is taking research to policy. That was why I accepted their invitation to be the Chief Guest and to moderate the media symposium. Here is a short excerpt from what I plan to say tomorrow. Hopefully the full speech will be published.
Our lead on international backhaul, Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan, has been talking about data centers along with fiber cables for some time. Here is the back story, as explained by APNIC’s Geoff Huston. The original motivation of the exchange was to group together a set of comparable local access providers to allow them to directly peer with each other. The exchange circumvented paying the transit providers to perform this cross-connect, and as long as there was a sizeable proportion of local traffic exchange, then exchanges filled a real need in replacing a proportion of the transit provider’s role with a local switching function. However, exchange operators quickly realised that if they also included data centre services at the exchange then the local exchange participants saw an increased volume of user traffic that could be provided at the exchange, and this increased the relative importance of the exchange.

Ooredoo losses and growth both slow

Posted on November 6, 2016  /  0 Comments

It appears that Ooredoo is turning around its Myanmar operations. Qatari telecom firm Ooredoo continues to reduce losses in its Myanmar arm relative to 2015, according to the group’s third-quarter results, although the Myanmar operation saw new subscriptions dip compared to the last two quarters. Unlike rival telco Telenor, Ooredoo’s Myanmar operations are not yet consistently profitable. But the Qatari firm’s Myanmar arm is still having a much better year financially than in 2015. Across the first three-quarters of 2015, Ooredoo’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – EBITDA – were negative Q30 million (K10.
If more than 50 percent of your customers are data users (daily? weekly? monthly), it would make sense to put weight on data. That is Telenor is going to do. What’s new in the Telegeography report is that data yields 40 percent of revenues.
Ahilan Kadiragamar is an articulate spokesperson of the Collective for Economic Democratisation in Sri Lanka. Therefore, I looked forward to an exchange of views on the proposed economic and technological cooperation agreement (ETCA) with India, organized by the Church and Nation Committee of the Sri Lanka Methodist Church. The slides that I used are here. It was a little disappointing to hear that the alternative policies being advocated by these well-meaning people boiled down to import controls and juche. The problem was encapsulated by a question from the audience: In which countries are these import control policies being implemented?
There is proof that the government of Sri Lanka pays attention to international benchmarks. When the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society Report showed that Sri Lanka had some of the lowest mobile voice charges in the world (p. 102), the government took prompt action by increasing taxes on voice, SMS and value added services by 80 percent and on data by 160 percent (even though Sri Lanka was not as low as for voice, but the prices were in the low range). The logical conclusion is that they want the people to decrease use of voice and data caused by these low prices. But they want to use public funds to develop ICT based services, as indicated by the 479 percent increase in the vote of the Ministry of Telecom and Digital Infrastructure.
A four-minute clip recorded immediately after my keynote at APNIC 42 is now out. Sound quality is much much better than in the talk and, with the help of good editing, I seem to get the key points out in less than five minutes. The APNIC video.
Since the middle of October, we have been engaged in the dissemination of the findings of our research on online freelancing. Our audiences have been current and potential freelancers and the objective has been awareness raising. But we’ve been thinking about the broader implications as we formalize our dissemination strategy. The World Bank’s 2016 WDR entitled Digital Dividends, has many important and relevant insights, including: Better skills will help many workers cope with the effects of internet-enabled automation. But changes in the labor market also require rethinking social protection and tax systems.
An interesting discussion of the effects of communication technology on political polarization includes this nugget Although technology has contributed to polarization, it may also help rescue us. For example, Facebook has automated story selection for its custom news feed; for political news this tends to foster an echo-chamber effect. However, Facebook data scientists have found a better source of diversity: almost 30 percent of hard-news reports originating from friends reflect opposing views. Even better, individuals are likelier to engage with information like this when it is presented in a social context. I found this especially interesting because our surveys show that Facebook is by far the most common source of information at the bottom of the pyramid in our part of the world.
My daughter took this picture outside a hotel in Havana in the evening. She says it was like this around all hotels with Internet and WiFi.
One of the main objectives of our joint effort with the Jaffna Managers’ Forum 18-19 October was to raise the awareness of Jaffna youth about the potential of online freelancing as a gateway to the service sector and to entrepreneurship. Suthaharan Perampalam communicates the findings from our research in a Tamil weekly, read in Jaffna.
Earlier in October I had the pleasure of moderating a high-powered panel on ICTs and SDGs at the Annual Conference of the International Institute of Communications in Bangkok. The video of the session is below. The Video of Session 2 (58 minutes).