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One of the outcomes of last October’s meeting of ITU’s Expert Group on Telecommunication/ICT Indicators (EGTI) was the formation of an EGTI sub-group to propose revisions to ITU’s methodology for collecting ICT prices. LIRNEasia research manager Shazna Zuhyle will Chair this sub-group comprising thirteen experts from academia and various national regulatory authorities. It will review and redefine the current methodology. Shazna has years of experience in ICT price benchmarking and is familiar with ITU’s current methodology. The need for the revision stems from the changing ICT landscape specifically in the use of broadband services and consumption patterns of users.
LIRNEasia researchers were in the field last week talking to vegetable farmers in Chilaw, Gampaha and Kurunegala. The discussions which took part in varying locations, are part of the LIRNEasia’s ongoing research for its ‘Inclusive information societies’ project. The project aims to assess the impact of opening up government data and making crop advisory information available to farmers through a mobile application. Initially the app will target farmers who grow cucurbits for export. Research work for the project is now underway.
Mytel, the fourth telecom licensee in Myanmar, states that it intends to capacity of AAE-1 through MPT. But MPT says it’s not part of the AAE-1 consortium and does not intend to use AAE-1 capacity itself. What does that mean for Mytel? Should it ask for capacity on SEA-ME-WE 5 from its competitor instead? Mytel, which received Myanmar’s fourth telecoms licence on January 12, will also use the AAE 1 (Asia-Africa-Europe) submarine cable “so we will not have to worry about internet bandwidth”, said U Zaw Min Oo.
Few days back, I was on a panel discussing the past two years record of the government and what we’d like to see in the coming three years. I talked about the President’s interest in focusing everyone’s attention on the Sustainable Development Goals and the expert committee that has been appointed to advise the government on SDGs. This is a topic connected to what we’re doing at LIRNEasia. A non-evidence based statement from the floor caused me to write a column, published today in both Sinhala and English. Why would such egregious errors be made?
          IGF Academy organised a pre event at Day 0 of the UNIGF in Guadalajara Mexico. The objective of this pre event was to discuss and exchange ideas on the linkage between freedom of expression and other policy issues in Internet governance. The fellows participated in the newcomers track on “Freedom of Expression Online” by Professor Dr. Milton Mueller of Georgia Tech University. This session was on Internet regulation.
The IGF academy preparatory workshop took place in Hotel Morales, Guadalajara on the 4th of December 2016. The objective of this workshop was to discuss and exchange Internet governance models and mechanisms and how they influence politics. 6 fellows from Asia and 6 fellows from Africa participated in this workshop. Corinne Cath of Article 19 and Daniel O’Maley of Center for International Media Assistance made a presentation on “Governance of Freedom of Expression” at the preparatory workshop. Following the break Adam Peake, Senior Manager for Civil Society Global Engagement of ICANN, made a presentation on other Internet governance mechanisms: multi stakeholder institutions and processes.
Investment is not like charity. One does not just give investment. If Tata is to invest in Bangladesh’s 2.4 percent market share Teletalk, it will have to have answers to the following questions: 1. Will it get a controlling interest in the company?
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.