Today is the 50th anniversary of the legislation that created the pioneering development research organization that is known as the International Development Research Centre of Canada. On behalf of all at LIRNEasia, warm good wishes and thank you for the productive partnership. LIRNEasia would not exist if not for IDRC, which made it possible for a sui generis entity like it to emerge and find its feet. But I like to think we have also contributed to achieving the objectives IDRC was created to advance. In the words of David Hopper, the first President of IDRC: “For years the West thought all it had to do was to pass out its agricultural technology.
The Myanmar Digital Rights Forum took place on 28 and 29 February 2020. It was the fourth iteration of the event, and my third. It was also the biggest yet, seeing approx. 350 participants from civil society, government, private sector, and academia. Many of these participants believed that digital rights and freedom had depleted in Myanmar over the past year, a poll taken at the forum indicated.
We are currently looking to fill the role of a Researcher. The full job description is available here. The deadline for application is 20th December 2019.
Two segments of a mobile network can never be virtualized: power supply and radio access networks (RAN) antenna. Our mobile devices are directly connected with the RAN of a mobile network. Originally two types of frequencies (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) were good enough for 2G networks. Today’s 3G and 4G mobile networks use varieties of (700 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2600 MHz) radio frequencies. And it has added a whole bunch of complexities to accommodate different types of antennas in a network.
Earlier this month, LIRNEasia Research Manager Shazna Zuhyle was in Geneva, where she was asked to speak about ICTs and Affordability at the last World Telecom / ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS 2018). Shazna headed the sub-group within the ITU’s Expert Group on Telecom / ICT Indicators (EGTI) in 2017 that proposed methodological revisions to the ICT Price Basket (IPB). Her talk revolved around the highlights of the changes made to the methodology and in understanding the supply-side data better. For example, at a national level while the value of the IPB may meet the Broadband Commission’s target of prices being less than 2 per cent of GNI per capita, if prices as a percentage of average household income per capita within income groups (e.g.
A month late, but this happened in Washington D.C in August 2018. 10 years ago New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) founded Measurement Lab (M-Lab) with PlanetLab (Princeton University) and Google (Open Source Research) during which time Vint Cerf was present. For all of us who attended the conference in celebration of MLab’s 10th anniversary his presence was the highlight. Greg Russell (M-Lab / Google) asking Vint Cerf a question.
US Government Accountability Office (GAO) provides Congress with thorough and balanced analysis of technological and scientific developments that affect the society, environment, and economy. A new report of GAO has detected “that the statistics on Internet access availability and access in America provided by the US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), are over-egged and misleading figures that routinely overstate reality.” As so often is the case, it is the detail in a comparatively small and niche case study that highlights the falsifications hidden the bigger picture. Simple extrapolation of the figures and evidence presented in the September 2108 GAO report “Broadband Internet: FCC’s Data Overstate Access on Tribal Lands” indicate that the regulator’s figures are a gross distortion of the reality of broadband access, speeds and competition across not only the report’s subject area but also across the entirety of the nation. Martyn Warwick of Telecom TV has written, “US regulator’s broadband statistics: Rubbish in – Rubbish out – Rubbish throughout.
Data traffic in Finland’s Elisa 4G mobile network has grown by more than 20-times from 2011 to 2017 but the operator’s CAPEX and OPEX remained flat during this period. Mobile industry engineers should make their hands dirty, as the Finns do. The bad culture of buying off the shelf solutions to meet internal KPI should be stopped. Engineers are smart, networks are not. And the world will not collapse if it waits until the over-hyped 5G technology gets matured.
Cybersecurity of developing countries is most at risk! Gartner projects that more than 20 billion IoT devices will be connected by 2020. The security of these Internet Of Things (IOT), relating to cyber security, in a broader sense hinges on service continuity and availability. Whether it be a DDoS attack that affects the availability or a malicious attack on the configuration that brings down the IoT device(s) or exposes private data, they all converge on the concept of cybersecurity. LIRNEasia partnered with Vanuatu Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Prime Minister’s Office, Netherlands Radio communications Agency / University of Twente and the Internet Society (ISOC) in introducing the Raster Tool and engaging the participants in an IOT cybersecurity assessment exercise.
In an overview of studies on India in the United States, Devesh Kapur of the University of Pennsylvania has some less than complimentary things to say about RCTs. They mirror some of my comments about systematic reviews here, the next layer of RCTs, though I do not say anything about the benefits to reseachers like Devesh does. By contrast, there has been a considerable increase in India-related work in the social sciences. The field has become much more empirical and India offers several advantages for a researcher: large sample sizes, heterogeneity in multiple dimensions, relatively low cost of gathering data, and weak official oversight (which, in any case, is unlikely to be enforced). It would be hard to do many of these trials in the US or China.
Since 2016, we at LIRNEasia have had a strong engagement with the post-conflict Northern Province. In my role at ICTA, I was invited to inaugurate the incubator space established by the Northern Chamber of Information Technology on 26 June 2018. The seven-hour one-way journey did not justify a single event. So we crammed in a whole series of interactions, including a structured discussion organized by our partner Jaffna Managers’ Forum. Among the invited senior professionals and politicians were the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Provincial Council members, senior academics, etc.
Trade unions are supposed to level the playing field for workers. But it’s something else that happens with unions in monopoly services provided by government. They engage in what is very close to extortion. Government doctors in Sri Lanka go on strike, harming innocent patients, demanding and getting privileged access to popular schools for their children and duty exemptions for the cars they buy. Railway workers demand salary increases even when the losses exceed total revenues.
We have been writing about network shutdowns for a long time. We even formulated a law to explain its workings. Now finally a court has ruled: The judgement reads as, “For what has been discussed above, the instant appeal and the connected petitions are allowed. Consequently, the actions, orders and directives issued by the Federal Government or the Authority, as the case may be, which are inconsistent with the provisions of section 54(3) are declared as illegal, ultra vires and without lawful authority and jurisdiction. The Federal Government or the Authority are, therefore, not vested with the power and jurisdiction to suspend or cause the suspension of mobile cellular services or operations on the ground of national security except as provided under section 54(3).
Better late than never. Why it took multiple decades after the establishment of the Universal Service Fund to spend the money to connect the unconnected in India’s North East is the question. It’s not that there was a shortage of money. Bharti Airtel Ltd will set up 2,000 mobile towers across villages and national highways in the North East with the help of government funding, the company said in a press statement on Sunday. The telecom operator has signed an agreement with the department of telecommunications and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to provide mobile services in 2,100 villages across Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh over the next 18 months.
While in Manila for an APCICT-UNESCAP expert group meeting (6-7 Dec 2017) to provide input into a course module on data driven smart government, I had the pleasure of also delivering a public lecture on big data for development. The lecture was held on 8 Dec 2017 and was sponsored by the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) of the University of Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG). The two events and in particular the public lecture was a useful opportunity to interact with diverse stakeholders such as civil servants, government officials from DICT (Philippines’ apex ICT government body and regulator), and university faculty regarding the enhanced use of data in policy making. My slides from the event are HERE.