If more than 50 percent of your customers are data users (daily? weekly? monthly), it would make sense to put weight on data. That is Telenor is going to do. What’s new in the Telegeography report is that data yields 40 percent of revenues.
There is proof that the government of Sri Lanka pays attention to international benchmarks. When the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society Report showed that Sri Lanka had some of the lowest mobile voice charges in the world (p. 102), the government took prompt action by increasing taxes on voice, SMS and value added services by 80 percent and on data by 160 percent (even though Sri Lanka was not as low as for voice, but the prices were in the low range). The logical conclusion is that they want the people to decrease use of voice and data caused by these low prices. But they want to use public funds to develop ICT based services, as indicated by the 479 percent increase in the vote of the Ministry of Telecom and Digital Infrastructure.
A four-minute clip recorded immediately after my keynote at APNIC 42 is now out. Sound quality is much much better than in the talk and, with the help of good editing, I seem to get the key points out in less than five minutes. The APNIC video.
Since the middle of October, we have been engaged in the dissemination of the findings of our research on online freelancing. Our audiences have been current and potential freelancers and the objective has been awareness raising. But we’ve been thinking about the broader implications as we formalize our dissemination strategy. The World Bank’s 2016 WDR entitled Digital Dividends, has many important and relevant insights, including: Better skills will help many workers cope with the effects of internet-enabled automation. But changes in the labor market also require rethinking social protection and tax systems.
An interesting discussion of the effects of communication technology on political polarization includes this nugget Although technology has contributed to polarization, it may also help rescue us. For example, Facebook has automated story selection for its custom news feed; for political news this tends to foster an echo-chamber effect. However, Facebook data scientists have found a better source of diversity: almost 30 percent of hard-news reports originating from friends reflect opposing views. Even better, individuals are likelier to engage with information like this when it is presented in a social context. I found this especially interesting because our surveys show that Facebook is by far the most common source of information at the bottom of the pyramid in our part of the world.
My daughter took this picture outside a hotel in Havana in the evening. She says it was like this around all hotels with Internet and WiFi.
One of the main objectives of our joint effort with the Jaffna Managers’ Forum 18-19 October was to raise the awareness of Jaffna youth about the potential of online freelancing as a gateway to the service sector and to entrepreneurship. Suthaharan Perampalam communicates the findings from our research in a Tamil weekly, read in Jaffna.
Now that we’ve had some time to figure out 4G/LTE, we got to start on 5G. But it seems it will be some time before the standards will settle, according to the NYT. You may soon start hearing a lot about 5G, or the fifth generation of wireless technology. This technology is expected to leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G, by offering mobile Internet speeds that will let people download entire movies within seconds, and it may pave the way for new types of mobile applications. Yet many challenges exist before 5G becomes part of our daily lives.
eZ Cash organized an event titled FreelancerSL 2.0 at Dialog auditorium on 23rd October 2016. The aim of this event was to educate the local freelancers about the opportunities on freelancing and on how to get in to online freelancing. LIRNEasia’s shared key findings of the nationally representative survey conducted among 16-40 year olds on the level of awareness of online freelancing and willingness to involve in online freelancing. In addition, we highlighted the opportunities available for freelancers and the challenges online freelancers face in Sri Lanka.
As part of the Inclusive Information Society research, we at LIRNEasia were in the process of interrogating the labor force and related data. Then there was this headline about there being no need for one million jobs when only 400,000 people were unemployed. Two days later, the op-ed refuting the absurdity of comparing one million over five years target with a static unemployment figure was published. As can be seen, having the data ready was extremely helpful for the quick response. If we are to escape from the middle-income trap and get established on a high-growth trajectory, it is imperative that all sectors of society understand the importance of creating jobs with the characteristics demanded by our young people and by the women who are sitting out the job market.
Iraq has engaged Cisco to build a terrestrial optical network up to Turkey. Dubbed as “The Iraqi National Backbone” it will reach most major Iraqi cities. It will be available to the public as the new official internet service provider (ISP) for Iraq. The new network is an alternative to existing submarine networks that reached the Middle East from Europe either via the Suez Canal, or by a longer route around the Horn of Africa. It will offer the highest capacity and lowest latency of any Europe-Middle East communications solution.
It appears that Govt of India is excited about the digital India, specially the use of social media. Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Col Rajvardhan Rathore who released the book entitled, ‘India Connected’. In his short speech he highlighted the importance of social media and how its impacting the governance and other related industries. Looks like the minister is a nice and warm person and would be interested in listening to researchers. The edited book covers all possible areas of ICTs in India and makes an interesting read for beginners.
Yesterday, while I was moderating a panel on ICT policy and regulation, SDGs and inclusion at IIC 2016 in Bangkok, I was surprised to hear from a speaker representing the Alliance for Affordable Internet that “six billion people were without access to broadband.” I wrote it down. In subsequent comments I said the six billion number was “arguable.” The Facebook supported “State of Connectivity 2015” Report (prepared with the participation of A4AI as well as the ITU) states that 3.2 billion people (43 percent) were Internet users.
The longer it takes to get rolling, the more questions are likely to be asked about its prospects. Coming into a saturated market requires an edge. It appears that the secret sauce is the Military affiliated co-owner who has infrastructure in place, enabling a fast rollout. U Soe Naing, director of the ministry’s Posts and Telecommunications Department, told The Myanmar Times that the fourth telco’s licence application would be “done in two months if everything goes smoothly”. The new telco will face stiff competition from state-owned incumbent MPT, and established foreign firms Telenor and Ooredoo.
The first session of the big data research workshop focused on what has been done with big data in a development context. To me, one of the most striking points was made by Josh Blumenstock of Berkeley. He showed the time since the last census in a number of countries in Africa (I think the highest was 35 years) and asked how development could be done without this basic knowledge base. Of the countries that we are engaged with, he included only Afghanistan, which has not had a census for decades for understandable reasons. I checked when Pakistan had last conducted a census.
Unlike an earlier media report in a government newspaper that I could not make head or tail of, this report zooms in on the controversial. No mention whatsoever of the subject of the keynote, but a fair summary of what I said in response to a question from the floor on government getting back into the provision of telecom infrastructure services. Journalism still lives in Sri Lanka. Government should focus on creating fiscally responsible policy certainty, rather than providing telecommunication services wholesale or retail by itself, an expert opined recently. Founding Chair of LIRNEasia and former telecoms regulator Professor Rohan Samarajiva pointed out that the Government needs to prioritise its investments in the areas of healthcare, children and education rather than putting money into areas where there is available private investment.