General


UN ESCAP has just put up a video of an interview I gave them a while back. Listening to it again, it seems that they succeeded in getting me to weave together a number of strands of work undertaken by LIRNEasia over the years, including broadband quality of service, importance of low-cost reliable international backhaul, and broadband eco systems. The one additional element is a discussion of leaders of tomorrow, making reference to MIDO and what’s happening in Myanmar as well our work with big data. This starts midway in the interview (2:28). I did not recall this part.
Sixth course of the series of courses funded by Ford Foundation on “How to Engage in Broadband Policy and Regulatory Processors” is currently being held in IIT Delhi. This course is co directed by Dr. Rohan Samarajiva and Dr. P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan.
All market projections in developing countries have been wrong, and all wrong in the same way: they have underestimated demand. This was true for voice, then for data, and now for 4G. The sharp increase in 4G usage is the second time the Myanmar market has taken Ooredoo by surprise, Mr Meza said. The first was the speed of smartphone penetration across the country after the company first start operating in 2014. When the Qatari firm entered Myanmar it decided to concentrate on the urban centres and on higher-value customers with heavy data usage.
In most of the countries we work in, most people connect to the Internet over mobile devices and/or mobile networks. But as WiFi hotspots of various kinds become more common, it appears that WiFi is becoming the dominant mode. The Global State of Mobile Networks study, based on 12.3 billion measurements taken by 822,556 OpenSignal users in an 84 day period, found that smartphone users spent more than 50 per cent of their time connected to Wi-Fi, with Netherlands the most mobile Wi-Fi hungry country, where it accounted for 70 per cent of all smartphone connections. “You could argue that in many places Wi-Fi has become a far more important mobile data technology than 3G or 4G,” noted the report.

Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016

Posted on August 5, 2016  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia CEO moderated a panel on “Private Public Partnerships – Getting Them Done, Getting Them Right” at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2016. The key speakers of the panel were Mr. Gajendra Haldea (Advisor, Government of Rajasthan, India), Hon. Eran Wickramarathne (Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development), Mr. Kamal Dorabawila (Principal Investment Officer, International Finance Corporation).
A 2 1/2 day regional workshop on “Internet Governance Processes” for national champions selected from 4 countries (Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh) is currently being held in Renuka City Hotel, Sri Lanka. This regional workshop is the commencing workshop of the IGF Academy, Asia counterpart. This academy aims to strengthen Internet governance in global south. At the end of the 6 month fellowship, the national champions are expected to develop road maps on lessons learnt by intervening in Internet governance processes in their respective countries. Transfer guides on how to replicate what was done in this program will be developed after the fellows participate in IGF in December.
Looks like I did not get it exactly right with my parable. I thought joint ventures. Instead Google is building a parallel track. In recent years, content providers have outpaced carriers in terms of their capacity demand on major routes. Considering the scale of their bandwidth deployments, it increasingly makes sense for them to collaborate on new systems as part owners rather than as customers.
I was surprised to hear an otherwise knowledgeable person participating in the Grand Challenges discussion here at University of Washington say there was no innovation in China. The time and place were not right for that discussion. But then NYT came with a substantive refutation: Snapchat and Kik, the messaging services, use bar codes that look like drunken checkerboards to connect people and share information with a snap of their smartphone cameras. Facebook is working on adding the ability to hail rides and make payments within its Messenger app. Facebook and Twitter have begun live-streaming video.
MPT is the former monopoly supplier and still has the largest customer base. But their new managers have reason to be worried whether they can hold to the customers. Telenor is a major player skilled in implementing the budget telecom network model and is nipping at MPT’s heels. Ooredoo has deep pockets. When the VietTel led fourth operator gets going, MPT can expect even more pressure.
As regional think tank, LIRNEasia sees its allegiance as being to the poor in the whole region, rather than a particular country. I’ve lived in three countries other than the one I was born in and have always been skeptical about excessive attachments to particular places. Albert Hirschman’s discussion of the nation state as a monopoly supplier of services with limited options of exit made more sense to me than most. I wrote about citizenship becoming more a matter of choice back in 2006. As the writer says, there are significant similarities between the new conception of the state and the way we use cloud services: As more countries become aggressive about attracting the digitally enabled, and build out more digital services of their own, the idea of nation-as-a-service comes into sharper focus.
The UK has been a leader in telecom reforms. Thus OFCOM’s encouragement of BT to have a de facto separate unit called Openreach to permit non-discriminatory use of the infrastructure caught the attention of many. Now, OFCOM wants to take next logical step and is proposing real structural separation: Openreach to become a distinct company. Openreach should be a legally separate company within BT Group, with its own ‘Articles of Association’. Openreach – and its directors – would be required to make decisions in the interests of all Openreach’s customers, and to promote the success of the company.
A recent report from the Myanmar Ministry of Post and Telecom states that mobile penetration has reached 90% (or 89.38% rather), and the number of Internet users has reached 39 million, according to supply-side data.  But as the Myanmar Times reporter rightly points out, multiple-SIM usership has to be taken into account to get a real picture of usage. We know multiple SIM use is nothing unusual in many markets, especially among the low income segments (we’ve seen as many as 23% of the low income segment in Pakistan owning more than one SIM in our past research), and that’s why we make sure we capture it whenever we do demand-side research. Most recently in Myanmar our 2015 baseline survey showed 17% of urban mobile owners had more than one SIM, compared with 8% of rural (or 13% of all mobile owners).
The work that we began in 2010 with UN ESCAP on improving the international backhaul capacity of Asia is continuing to move forward. The latest step is a pre-feasibility study on ASEAN connectivity conducted in early 2015 and published in 2016. The study found that Internet traffic measurement of international paths (backbone trunk lines), undertaken in early 2015 as part of an UN ESCAP initiative showed serious problems existed in Internet traffic exchange and management within the ASEAN region. The worst result showed an international backbone trunk line download speed of 0.15Mps, latency of 230 msec and Tromboning Index (TI) value of 35.
According to the government as reported by Eleven, there has been much progress made on beefing up Myanmar’s international backhaul. The report does not say what the terms and conditions of access to the backhaul is and whether the necessary licenses have been granted to make possible the use of AAE1 and SEA-ME-WE 5, which were initially conceived of as providing China with an alternative to the Malacca trap. Myanmar has expanded its fibre optic cable to 31,000 kilometres this year, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communication. Myanmar had only used the SEA-ME-WE 3 fibre optic cable previously, but people in the country will be able enjoy the benefits of the SEA-ME-WE 5 and AAE1 cables soon. The inland fibre optic cables link Muse and Myawady to Thailand, and in the 2015-16 fiscal year, a new inland fibre optic cable linked Tachilek to Thailand.
It’s been a long time coming. The paper that Sangamitra Ramachander presented at CPRsouth 2011 based on Teleuse@BOP research has finally been published. We are happy, both for a young researcher getting published in a prestigious journal and for the fact that it gets our research out to academic readers. The private sector in developing countries is increasingly interested in extending mobile telephony services to low income and rural markets that were previously considered unprofitable. Determining the right price is a central challenge in this context.
Usually, these are not subjects that are seen as connected. But I connected them at a talk I gave at the Colombo Club today. When the losses in one year from one SOE that serves a limited clientele are almost double the total spent on the social safety program that touches over one million families, it is not a difficult case to make. My slides are here.