General


Mytel’s formula for success in 2018

Posted on January 20, 2017  /  0 Comments

The fourth operator in the now mature Myanmar telecom market is Mytel. Sometime back I wrote about its secret sauce. In addition to confirming the use of military facilities, the company says that it will gain access to AAE-1 to ensure a good Internet experience for its customers. The Star High – MEC connection gives MyTel access to 1,000 towers and over 13,000 kilometres of fibre, plus other MECTel telecoms assets, thus transforming the viability of the business case for the new market entrant. According to an MPT spokesperson “As a general principle, the idea is to leverage MECTel’s assets, at least those ones that can be commercially used, as well as the existing subscriber base”.
Nandan Nilekani of Infosys and Aadhaar fame has been brought in to help the government of India accelerate the transition to e financial services in the aftermath of demonetization. 350 million with no phones and 350 million with feature phones is just the first problem. What happens when there is no signal, like in Chennai after the recent storm? The committee has a mega challenge ahead. The committee is expected to meet again this week to look at how to approach those with limited access to technology.
“Online freelancers are not given loans from local banks. The first question the officers ask us is whether EPF/ ETF is deducted from our salary. This is how they understand whether we have a stable job or not. They refuse to issue us loans because we don’t have a stable job. This is not the case in other countries” Says Sampath, a 25 year old freelancer in Sri Lanka.

Slow meshing of Bay of Bengal region

Posted on January 10, 2017  /  0 Comments

According to Twitter, some people are without Internet in Bangkok today. Today's Tot internet failure from flooding wouldn't have been if only it were a mesh rather than point to point as @samarajiva has advocated — Don (@smartbrain) January 10, 2017 India is also supposed to have experienced problems with the Tata Indicom Cable connecting Chennai and Singapore. But they had back up options, running traffic through Bangladesh. The report below indicates that this resulted in higher bandwidth use (good) and a discernible degradation of Internet service quality (bad) for Bangladesh users. This is possibly because Bangladesh still primarily depends on SEA-ME-WE 4 to connect to the outside.
Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva refers to evidence showing Internet taxes are counterproductive and says current excessive taxes are temporary. Video of interview.
Based on work done on electronic trading in ASEAN and extrapolation from the online freelancing research, I contributed some thoughts on budget proposals to create a government-run platform to collect taxes. That has been picked up in subsequent articles. In the face of government highhandedness, global e-commerce giants have in the past opted not to enter Sri Lanka, and experts such as LIRNEasia Chairman Professor Rohan Samarajiva have expressed concerns that new interference would lead to those operating in Sri Lanka to leave the country as well. However, some platforms such as Airbnb have a history of collecting taxation from customers and providing them to governments, if requested. Officials admitted that many budget accommodation units are not eligible to pay taxes, which would require amendments to existing legislation.
LIRNEasia’s Research Fellow, Dr. P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan (Associate Professor, IIT Delhi) shared the findings of the demand side study of BhrataNet (here) with Mr Osama Manzar and team at Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi whose supply side study (here) is a perfect complementary work. Looking forward to work together to diffuse the BharatNet in rural India in coming days.
Bill Easterly’s latest piece in Foreign Policy argues that the Trump victory is essentially a defeat of technocrats who do not have, or cannot defend, fundamental social values. Made me ask whether we too have, over time, become value-neutral technocrats. I had written on values in telecom policy many years ago (Samarajiva & Shields, 1990). Evidence v values I’ve heard people describe us as great proponents of evidence-based policy. Easterly (2016) claims that technocrats who dominated both parties in the US had “approach[ed] every problem with a five-point plan designed to produce evidence-based deliverables — [and thereby] had left democracy vulnerable” to demagogues like Trump.
In a wide-ranging interview, Htaike Htaike Aung and Phyu Phyu Thi talk about MIDO and how they approach policy problems in the ICT space. The article.
On the 19th of December, LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya and the MIDO co-founders (Phyu Phyu Thi, Htaike Htaike Aung and Wai Myo Htut) met with the the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, U Kyaw Myo to present the results of the 2016 nationally representative survey of ICT use in Myanmar.  U Sai Saw Lin Tun, Deputy Director General of the IT and Cyber Security Department in the Ministry and other officials were also present. The slides are found here.
The LIRNEasia representative-sample survey conducted in 2016 found that 78 percent of phone users had smartphones. A supply-side report confirms this. As with many developing countries, low-cost smartphones continue to thrive in Myanmar. In 2016Q3, 89% of smartphone shipments to the country fall below US$225. “Smartphones priced at US$50
In an interview with Light Reading, the Ooredoo CEO says The growth plateauing in Myanmar’s telecom sector will be based on the quality of the network and service because mobile users’ expectations are high. If an operator can’t provide attractive service, customers will definitely switch to another. Our growth is improving quarter-by-quarter. We had 8.2 million active customers in the second quarter of 2016 and 4 million active users in the same period last year.
The 2017 Budget presented by the Minister of Finance of the Government of Sri Lanka proposed provision of “free Tabs for almost 175,000 students who enter the Advanced Level (AL) classes and around 28,000 A/L teachers from 2017.” LKR 5,000 million was allocated for this purpose. Given the fact that LIRNEasia had just completed a systematic review on ICTs in the classroom and had conducted an event to present the research to decision makers, we asked Kagnarith Chea, who participated in a related event to react to the government proposals. Kagnarith is . .
In the first iteration, the benefits of MVNOs were marginal. Different brand, perhaps better customer service . . But it appears Google is offering a new model where your handset would jump to the best available signal. Google purchases capacity on multiple networks making this possible.

Ambani v Pitroda

Posted on December 31, 2016  /  0 Comments

I am large, I contain multitudes. This is true, for sure, about India, on track to become the most populous nation in five years. India contains many visions and plans, not necessarily congruent, about connecting citizens to the Internet. The Walt Whitman line surely applies to what happens in Indian ICT policy too. Sam Pitroda worked up a plan to do the job using state-owned enterprises.
Ranging from the incredible advance of teleuse documented by two surveys conducted by LIRNEasia and MIDO to the potential of ubiquitous smartphones for making the lives of Myanmar’s disabled citizens better, Helani Galpaya summarizes the work being done in Myanmar since 2013 on MTV, a business-news channel. She touches on the need to work on digital literacy and talk about how we have been informed policy in Myanmar since 2013. 12 minute interview aired on MTV