Blog — Page 63 of 338 — LIRNEasia


I thought that the Government of India finally solved the problem of getting rid of the universal service fund money that kept coming in. Sam Pitroda gave them the solution with NOFN, that was supposed to shift the money to BSNL and other government entities. And the money was given for little result. But the inflows were just too much. Now the accumulated balance is over USD 6 billion.
It’s difficult to understand how Google’s mission could have been achieved, if the US authors’ union had prevailed. But the US Supreme Court has declined to hear the final appeal. The justices did the right thing. The legal fight over Google’s effort to create a digital library of millions of book is finally over. The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge from authors who had argued that the tech giant’s project was “brazen violation of copyright law” — effectively ending the decade-long legal battle in Google’s favor.
Three years back I wrote about the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) cable. It has been officially activated today. In my engagement with the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway of ESCAP, I have been consistently referring to BBG as Asia’s very first cross-sector telecoms infrastructure that links beyond the border. The designers of BBG have very wisely bypassed the pirate infested infamous strait of Malacca. From double landing stations at Singapore it traverses across Malaysia and terminates at Penang.
I received an email from some magazine catering to the NGO Sector, saying they had studied our website and wanted to do a feature on us. After I agreed, the next email included the following question. First of all, I would just like to know if LirneAsia are implementing projects as of the moment or is it focusing solely in research? If there are, are there any projects being implemented in terms of ICT and digital divide? Since this showed that they had not actually studied our website, and this was likely to be a waste of time, I replied thus: We not only do not do projects, we believe they are mostly a waste of time and money.

When transaction costs approach zero

Posted on April 16, 2016  /  0 Comments

We at LIRNEasia have always seen transaction costs at the heart of much of what we do. Our interest in ICTs in value chains, for example, has been focused on changes to transaction costs made possible by ICTs. This fascinating article on the business models underlying cloud computing foregrounds the scale economies perfected by the likes of Amazon. But perhaps the real story is in the negligible transaction costs of billing? This economics of tiny things demonstrates the global power of the few companies, including Microsoft and Google, that can make fortunes counting this small and often.
For many, daily travel is a product of routines that have been established over time. From commuting, getting the kids to school and back home to the occasional shopping trip much of our movements follow a predictable pattern. Attempts to map human movement in different regions across the world using emerging sources of big data such as mobile network call detail records (CDR) show that in general aggregate human movements change very little from one week day to another or from one weekend to another. Our work on human mobility using a large CDR dataset have shown that Sri Lanka is no different. However during some days of the year such as during festivals, holidays and natural disasters routine travel behavior gives way to unique travel behavior.
Four years from now, employers will seek employees with very different skill sets than they do today. The report, titled “The Future of Jobs,” surveyed executives from more than 350 employers across nine industries in 15 of the world’s largest economies to come up with predictions about how technological advancements will force the labor markets to evolve. Here’s a look at the top 10 skill sets respondents said will be most in demand by 2020. Local tertiary education institutes should focus on developing these skills to match futuristic demand. Click here to download the Report

Inclusion through platforms

Posted on April 11, 2016  /  0 Comments

The only platforms LIRNEasia is currently studying are those used for micro work in the IT and ITES sector. There our focus is on inclusion. But, this article shows we should consider looking at more platforms. Deepthi, the single mother of a teenager, says she has tried other types of self-employment. She worked as a goldsmith, nursing home careperson and, sometimes still makes shoes and bags at home.
Ever since Nirmita Narasimhan gave a colloquium on ICTs and disabilities at LIRNEasia in 2011, the topic has not been far from my mind. We included a component in the ongoing Myanmar project and are pushing hard to get assistive technologies into the policy discourse in that country. But my inability to get a single mainstream newspaper to write a substantive article on Sri Lanka’s ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, despite personal emails to influential journalists, shows we have a ways to go. It is in this context that I found this Indian article, originally published in a tech publication, Dataquest, of interest. But experts such as Javed Abidi, Honorary Director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), feel that the issues facing the assistive technology market in India go much beyond that.
Helani Galpaya presented the findings of the joint research by GSMA Connected Women & LIRNEasia on “Mobile phones, internet & gender in Myanmar” at the Chatrium Hotel, Yangon on 8 April 2016. The event organized by LIRNEasia and MIDO was used as a forum to discuss issues pertaining to gender and ICTs in Myanmar at large. Khin Sandar Win & Htla San Htwe presented the rationale behind and the workings of the UNDP iWomen application while Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO spoke of the role of women as app developers, hackers and coders. The event was well attended despite it being held on the last working day prior to the New Year Water Festival holidays. Noteworthy was the large media presence, with the event being covered by multiple print, television and online media outlets.
One principle LIRNEasia defended consistently over the discussions at UN ESCAP about the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS) was that of open access. And despite many entreaties we held firm that the fiber had to owned by any entity other than the incumbent telecom operator in the country passed by the APIS fiber. From the time we conducted the Afghanistan sector performance review in 2011-12, I’ve been waiting for reports on the fiber investment paying off. But all that it appears to have yielded are vacuous presentations at international organizations. I hope that President Ghani will remove the fiber network from the dog-in-the-manger incumbent Afghan Telecom and allow the entire economy to benefit from the USD 130 million investment.
Twenty years ago, when NAFTA was still a novelty, Patrick Hadley and I looked at the interface of trade and communication policy. I recalled this when I was asked a question during a TV talk show about safeguards for culture in trade agreements. Looks like the issues we wrote about are becoming mainstream: China’s notorious online controls have long been criticized as censorship by human rights groups, businesses, Chinese Internet users and others. Now they have earned a new label from the American government: trade barrier. United States trade officials have for the first time added China’s system of Internet filters and blocks — broadly known as the Great Firewall — to an annual list of trade impediments.
I spent the past two days immersed in a new subject: elections management. We have been engaged in one of the hardest public policy puzzles, that of improving Sri Lanka’s electoral system, since early 2015. As a result of that engagement, I was invited to participate in a vulnerability assessment of Sri Lanka’s election management system. Seventeen aspects of the election management system ranging from the way counting was done to legislation governing elections were discussed in detail. External experts had interviewed various stakeholders (interlocutors, they were called) and prepared a report.
Rupee depreciation and Interest rate rise are gradually slowing down consumer demand locally. But this may not be the case for Freelancers. Online outsourcing workers would be definitely happy about the depreciating value of currency. Sri Lankan Currency Depreciated against USD by 9% Jan-Dec 2015, it further reduced by 3% till 31st of March. Fiverr, one of the most attractive sites for online freelancers in Sri Lanka, where different services were offered for a standard rate of USD 5.
It was barely a month after LIRNEasia conducted a course on broadband policy and regulation in Nagarkot, that Nepal was affected by the Ghorka Earthquake. Our hearts went out for the people of Nepal who suffered from a series of tremblors, power and communication outages and many difficulties. We managed to convey some support for the immediate relief activities undertaken by our partner, the Internet Society of Nepal. But we concluded that what would be most valuable would be a contribution in the form of an assessment of how the communication system stood up to the earthquake and what lessons could be learned to make networks more resilient. That report, based on field visits and extensive consultations with those who directly experienced the problems, is now public here.
I wish standard metrics would be used when CEOs talk about data use so that we can be sure that Telenor’s 52 percent is comparable to Ooredoo’s 86 percent. But anyway, it’s good to see Ooredoo’s emphasis on data is paying off: “We are thrilled that 86 per cent of our customers currently use our data services. We are seeing explosive growth in data traffic on the network, which has increased 5 times in the last year, driven by the affordability of Ooredoo Internet tariffs. We also see that data usage per subscriber, which reached an average of 580 megabytes per month in Q4, at par with what customers in Europe are consuming on their mobile phones,” he said. According to Meza, Ooredoo products and services are now available in over 100,000 retail outlets, in addition to more than 100 brand stores countrywide.