Blog — Page 70 of 337 — LIRNEasia


LIRNEasia has had a deep commitment to decentralized innovation. Specifically in relation to Pakistan, we advocated more reasonable revenue splits for app developers and actions to reduce the transaction costs for them as far back as in May 2010. We are happy to see actions on those lines reported from Pakistan. Irfan Wahab Khan, Deputy CEO of Telenor Pakistan, while speaking with ProPakistani, confirmed the plans and said that Telenor Pakistan is determined to play a role in nurturing and strengthening startups ecosystem in Pakistan. “In addition to giving these startups an access to our assets, such as distribution channels, retail network, Telenor Pakistan has bundled a tool-kit with payment, location and other similar APIs, that will be made available to these selected startups”, explained Irfan Wahab Khan.
In 2012, I wrote in a Myanmar newspaper that according to the latest ITU data, Myanmar had less mobile SIMs in service for 100 people than every other country except St Helena, which had no mobile service at all. There was nothing to say about Internet. Three years later, Myanmar has leaped ahead of both Pakistan and Bangladesh in the ICT Development Index (IDI), driven principally by a 15-place advance in the Use Sub-index. It is now ranked 142nd among the countries that are included by the ITU in the Index. The massive increase in the number of mobile SIMs per 100 people increasing from one in 2010 to 49.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow Payal Malik has written a thoughtful op-ed about how and when regulatory action is required in an economy that is does not assign centrality to static consumer surplus. Shall the choice of competition rules in India be also guided by some ideological underpinnings or there are some bright line rules that can guide regulatory philosophy? The normative basis of regulating the digital economy will finally depend on what ideology the Indian regulatory governance subscribes to. If it considers concentrated markets, by their very nature, to be undesirable, then an interventionist approach would be adopted and competition rules would impose visions of an ideal market upon economic agents. But if the regulators ascribe to a dynamic view of competition, concentrated markets will have to be traded off for consumer benefit.
The Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka and the Young Planners Association of Sri Lanka organized a workshop at the UDA premises on 4th December 2015 for LIRNEasia to share is ongoing research on leveraging mobile network big data for urban and transportation planning. The slides are available HERE.
Government of Nepal, mostly under the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, is on a mission to strengthen their national emergency communications. They are facilitating a multi-agency approach to promoting the development of a National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). Members of the Nepal Emergency Telecommunications Cluster are contributing to the NECP. The Emergency telecommunications Cluster was formed after the earthquake to bring back communications in support of humanitarian operations (ISOC Nepal attended those meetings). The Government of Nepal has recognized the importance of ICT as a cross-cutting issue in emergency communications for saving lives.
At the Internet Governance Forum held in Brazil in November 2015, LIRNEasia CEO spoke in multiple panels on the issues related to zero rated content and net neutrality.  She was also interviewed by the Deutsche Welle Academy, the capacity building arm of the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. In the interview, Helani sets the arguments pro and against Zero Rated content. Her interview can be read here.  
Foreign troops are the big spenders in Afghan mobile networks. Possibly more browsing rather than talking have been keeping half dozen mobile operators happy. Not anymore. Operators are tightening belt as the soldiers are packing. Up to 40% of the market value will evaporate as the western military transporters load of soldiers take-off.
Big data is sexy these days but still it’s a big deal to get coverage in the New York Times for research conducted in Rwanda. Josh’s work is complex and involves training data sets and also the use of multiple kinds of data. He and his colleagues relied on anonymized data on billions of interactions, including details about when calls were made and received and the length of the calls. The researchers also looked at when text messages were sent, and which cellphone towers the texts and calls were routed through in order to get a rough idea of geographic location. “So it’s the who, where and when of the call, but not the what or the why,” Dr.
OTTs and telcos really need to come up with better names to differentiate their products and services.  Really.  Or maybe confusion is just the point. First there was Free Basics, Facebook’s service which gives free access to a set of applications inside the app (it was previously called Internet.org, a supposedly clever name which of course was used by Facebooks critics point out the fact that it wasn’t really the “Internet”, but again, perhaps that was the point).
All the fuss has been about Digital India. But India has fallen back six places to 131, despite improving its IDI score from 2.14 to 2.69 in the ICT Development Index. Nepal, which does not have a funded and actively promoted digital strategy, has advanced four places to 136th place.
We do not believe the ITU’s ICT Development Index is perfect, but we write about it every year. This year, the web interface has been jazzed up. But even more interesting is what has happened with Myanmar. In 2010, Myanmar ranked 150th in the world, and was second to last in the Asia Pacific. Bangladesh was just ahead at 148 and Pakistan was well ahead at 138.

Maurice Strong and the IDRC

Posted on November 30, 2015  /  0 Comments

I read today that Maurice Strong had passed away. I’d never met him. But I knew of him. The very first paper that I wrote in Graduate School was on how IDRC mobilized research networks. This was in December 1979, 37 years ago.
When I first saw a tweet about the Daily Star report, I thought Telenor’s Bangladesh affiliate was following in the steps of its Myanmar counterpart and reporting daily data user percentages. This is something any operator can do based on the information contained in Call Detail Records (CDRs). But I was disapponted. It was based on a sample survey: The leading mobile phone operator studied some 1,510 school-going students aged 11-18 years between June and July last year, to understand the internet usage patterns and practices of the youth in Bangladesh. I do see the value of sample surveys for understanding the user behaviors of specific demographic segments.
Key officials from the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education along with a range of stakeholders and suppliers of education assembled at the BMICH on the 26th of November to discuss the findings of LIRNEasia’s ICTs in the classroom Systematic Review. The findings were placed in context of other research such as the recent PISA study. Two speakers from neighboring countries, Anir Chowdhury from the Access to Information Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh and Longkai Wu of the National Institute of Education Singapore, provided a comparative perspective. Sri Lankan efforts to leverage ICTs for educational purposes such as Guru.lk and e-takshilawa.

Mergers sweeping South Asia

Posted on November 27, 2015  /  1 Comments

First it was Bangladesh: Robi and Airtel. Then it was India: Reliance and Sistema plus maybe Aircel. Sri Lanka: SLT/Mobitel and Hutch. Now Pakistan: Mobilink and Warid. VimpelCom is looking to combine Pakistani unit Mobilink with local rival Warid Telecom, claiming the first merger in the country’s telecoms sector.