Blog — Page 90 of 337 — LIRNEasia

Modi Seeks Telecom Ministry to Speed Up Broadband Project — New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) February 8, 2015 When I saw the tweet, I thought Modi was going to takeover the telecom portfolio. Only to find it was a bad headline that had then crept into a misleading tweet.
Verizon is in the the news and under the gun for its use of supercookies to track mobile users. The company uses the tracking technology — alphanumerical customer codes known as supercookies — to segment its subscribers into clusters and tailor advertising pitches to them. Although Verizon allows subscribers some choices regarding the use of their information for marketing purposes, the company does not permit them to opt out of being tagged with the persistent tracking technology. Our discussion: Within the first cluster proposed by Solove, the most relevant problem is surveillance. In the context of big data, it is useful to distinguish between active and passive surveillance.
India has excluded Assam and Manipur, two of its troublesome northeastern states, from the 17,500-km long Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) network. It has proposed a Bangladesh-Myanmar railway link via Tripura and Mizoram instead, according to Times of India. Indian policy makers now want to bypass the areas in Assam and Manipur. According to the new proposal, Dhaka should be connected to Jawahar Nagar in north Tripura, which is south of Mahisasan from where new lines will be laid to proceed towards Sairang in Mizoram from where it would be connected to an existing line at Ka Lay in Myanmar. “The UNESCAP plan is not final and there is room for modification.
A 24/7 news channel interviewed me about the mobile-only taxes proposed by the new government. It is not online (yet) so I cannot give a link. The last question I was asked by the interviewer was about my recommendations to the government. Here is what I said: 1. The proposal that the mobile operators should pay the 25 percent tax on voice calls currently paid by mobile users should be withdrawn.
In a world where everyone is reaching for better, faster and more feature packed mobile phones, a little known Australian company has designed and manufactured a mobile phone focusing on the bare minimum, with the elderly in mind, particularly those with mental and physical limitations. The KISA phone (KISA stands for Keeping It Simple Always), designed in consultation with community organizations such as Vision Australia and Guide Dogs Victoria, first marketed the product in August last year and is aimed at those who struggle with technology. It has been received as an excellent mobile communications solution for people with impaired vision, hearing or dexterity. This is a compact phone, light enough to be worn around the neck with a lanyard strap and can be pre-programmed with up to 10 numbers. It can receive calls from any number, just like a regular phone although it can dial out only the numbers that were preset.
Last night (4th February 2015), the TV Channel Derana invited me to participate in a debate in Sinhala on the interim budget presented by the new Minister of Finance. Here I used the case of punitive taxes on mobiles as a way of discussing the possible implications for investment in general, and for the ICT sector in particular. There was an intriguing tangential discussion on mobiles being bad per se that I will write about separately. Link to video clip in Sinhala.
One thinks that the case has been made over and over again that the connectivity made possible by ICTs is a good thing. Governments appear to act on this basis when they formulate telecom and broadband policies and sometimes even direct subsidies to encourage greater connectivity. Yet, whenever there is need for money all that falls by the wayside and Willie Sutton takes over. Willie Sutton was a famous bank robber who was asked why he robbed banks. “I rob banks because that’s where the money is,” he said.
The roiling debate on Internet governance in a post-Snowden world is not one that we participate in fully. There are only so many hours in a day. But this debate caught my eye. Someone systematically engaging Richard Hill, the theorist behind the ITU’s position at WCIT 2013. It seems to me that what most bothers the statists is that the Internet has broken up the tight controls that states used to be able to exercise over thought, expression, and access to information.
The Royal Statistics Society and the Overseas Development Institute had organized a well-attended public discussion on big data and the future of conventional government statistics. I was pleased that there was nothing very news said, from our perspective, because that shows that we are not lagging behind in this space. I found the comments by John Pullinger, the National Statistician of the United Kingdom, of significant interest given we are making a presentation to the senior officers of the Sri Lanka Department of Census and Statistics this coming Friday. One of his comments was that good professionals had to keep up with new techniques. If a doctor were to treat people with methods from the 1950s, they would be driven out of the profession.
The states in the North East of India have among the highest rates of English literacy in India. They also have very high unemployment rates. Now the government is planning to conduct least-cost subsidy auctions for those willing to set up BPOs in those states. As per the plan, the government is planning to set up BPOs, with a total of 5,000 seats, in Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. The government has set aside a budget of Rs 50 crore for the projects, which would be set up under private-public partnership.
When I was last in Myanmar, 3G was said to be available, people had smartphones, but congestion made connecting a challenge. It appears the operators are responding. According to Takashi Nagashima, CEO of MPT-KDDI-Sumitomo joint operations, the network improvement plan kicked off on November 6. The capacity of congested 3G sites in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw was expanded. Capacity of those sites is now about 50 per cent higher than before November 6.
It is a good thing that Digital India builds upon the previous unexecuted plans for taking fiber to rural India. What we said then, and what we say now is that the government must put teeth into the claim that NOFN will be “a national non-discriminatory infrastructure.” Give the private providers certainty by spelling out the terms and conditions of non-discriminatory access to the fiber. Australia made it too complicated, but there are lessons to be learned from that experience. Digital India weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single comprehensive vision.
I was reading the 2014 Annual Report of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, where on page 37 the PTA reports that international calls being terminated on Pakistani mobile networks has decreased dramatically since 2011-12, from 10.8 billion minutes to 5.6 billion minutes in 2013-14. The PTA even says that “one view is that this is due to the introduction of the International Clearing House (ICH).” But no reaching of the obvious conclusion: abolish the ICH and stop playing ineffective cartel manager.
It’s interesting that Chinese Internet users have to protest the blocking of what I thought would be illegal workarounds. But earlier this week, after a number of V.P.N. companies, including StrongVPN and Golden Frog, complained that the Chinese government had disrupted their services with unprecedented sophistication, a senior official for the first time acknowledged its hand in the attacks and implicitly promised more of the same.
I had seen the draft, but as with all UN organizations it took some time for the official text to be published. By that time, we had moved on, and it did not make the blog. But here are the operative paragraphs of the outcome document of the Paro Meeting on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway: Call on Asia-Pacific regional cooperation organisations, including subregional organizations such as BIMSTEC and ECO, and regional policy think tanks such as LIRNEasia, to facilitate regional cooperation in ICT infrastructure and promote regional connectivity as a regional public good, Request all regional cooperation organisations in Asia and the Pacific, especially BIMSTEC and ECO to actively facilitate the regional cooperation in ICT infrastructure and promote regional connectivity as a regional public good and as well as an integral component of regional integration process in its respective regions, Agree to propose to the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology and Committee on Transport at their fourth sessions, respectively that, through its relevant working groups, ESCAP’s intergovernmental agreements make provisions for the synchronized deployment of infrastructure along transport networks, Further agree to support at the fourth session of the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology, on […]
The general tone of writing on the on-demand economy (much better term than the “sharing economy”) is one of regret about the demise of steady work with benefits, exemplified by Robert Reich: “I think it’s nonsense, utter nonsense. This on-demand economy means a work life that is unpredictable, doesn’t pay very well and is terribly insecure.” But we’re talking about people whose work life is unpredictable, doesn’t pay very well and is terribly insecure to start with. For them, the on-demand economy is step up, especially if they can be connected to export supply chains using the disruptive potential of ICTs. Just as Uber is doing for taxis, new technologies have the potential to chop up a broad array of traditional jobs into discrete tasks that can be assigned to people just when they’re needed, with wages set by a dynamic measurement of supply and demand, and every worker’s performance constantly tracked, reviewed and subject to the sometimes harsh light of customer satisfaction.