General — Page 29 of 245 — LIRNEasia


I first heard about government entering the business of manufacturing phones when I was (futilely) advising the government of Bangladesh on formulating a national telecom policy. They had some bankrupt telecom equipment factories and I was asked what to do with them. I said, not much. Then my friends in India started to show me numbers for what India was spending on importing equipment for the telecom industry. This cannot continue, they said.
Bangladesh has experienced temporary outage of Internet when the government blocked popular social media sites on November 18. It could not skip the watchful eyes of the man who can see the Internet. Here is the visual of Internet outage in Bangladesh.
Few weeks back we reported, without endorsement, a New York Times piece about the possibility of sabotage of trans Atlantic cables. Sabotage is a real threat, says cable expert Doug Madory, but not on the US-Europe routes. The thing that might not be widely appreciated is the fact that telecommunications lines are also sabotaged with some regularity. Perhaps the most relevant incident to this discussion involved divers (pictured right) who were arrested by the Egyptian Navy in March 2013 for detonating underwater explosives off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, ostensibly in an attempt to scavenge for scrap metal. The incident damaged SeaMeWe-4, causing major disruptions to Internet service across the Middle East and South Asia.
Grace Mirandilla Santos, LIRNEasia Research Fellow, is nothing if not persistent. She has been hammering away at the broadband quality problem in the Philippines for a long time now. The big party thrown by the government for APEC leaders in Manila becomes the latest opportunity for her: A note to APEC delegates: this brand of hospitality does not, by any measure, reflect what the ordinary Filipino experience every day. Traffic navigation app Waze has branded Manila as having the worst road traffic compared to other cities that use it. NAIA airports experience congestion everyday, and most recently was plagued with the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scam that allegedly preys on tourists and overseas migrant workers.
In wide ranging article on multiple aspects of Facebook, the author cites Helani Galpaya’s comments on zero rating. For Facebook, releasing something, gauging reaction, and then tweaking as necessary is not only normal but also a badge of honor—after all, one of the company’s guiding principles is “Done is better than perfect.” When I ask Zuckerberg about the controversy, he says, “Internet.org is working. We’ve learned a lot from our efforts already.
Freedom house report on Internet freedom was released last week. This report was developed by Freedom house with 70 researchers and advisers around the world. Globally over 3 billion people have access to internet. This report covers 65 countries which has 88% of worlds internet population. Over 40% of worlds internet users live in China, the United States, or India.
Instagram facilitates photo/ video sharing and social networking. Instagram community consists of over 400 million and is one of the largest ad platforms in the world. Access to this ad platform provides access to Instagram user data. Based on this, we acquired Instagram user data on Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. When comparing these four countries, Bangladesh has the highest Instagram users and Myanmar has the lowest.
It was expected. So I ignored the news that RCom and Sistema were in merger talks. What got my attention was the Aircel angle. People have been talking about collaboration between the Ambani brothers (Jio and RCom). Now that get’s real interesting.

Multilingualism in cyberspace

Posted on November 3, 2015  /  0 Comments

As a result of the introduction of new gTLD (generic Top-Level Domains) initiative to promote competition in the domain name market while ensuring Internet security and stability by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) there are now almost 300 million domain names around the world. It is said that this will encourage multilingualism in cyberspace, help emerging economies and relate with the actual content of the site as a whole. The dominance of english in the web is expected to decrease and other languages to pick up as a result of this transition.    
There is no debate that the laws governing the telecom/ICT sector in Sri Lanka are among the most convoluted. So I have some sympathy for the people who write about it. But I assume they are paid for their work and they have a duty to check their facts. The excerpt below is just one example of the erroneous analysis that is published in documents with international circulation, and then get quoted and reified as the truth about Sri Lanka: Under a constitutional amendment forced through by the Rajapaksa regime and ratified in 2011—which also removed presidential term limits—the president was able to appoint the heads and members of all commissions, subverting legislative guarantees for the independence of the TRC and other statutory institutions.[36] In April 2015, President Sirisena and his interim government were able to undo this stranglehold on democratic processes by introducing and ratifying the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which empowered independent commissions in the country and restored term limits to the presidency.
Dhiraagu tends to respond to these kinds of things strongly. Should be interesting. Ooredoo Maldives and Facebook have partnered to connect more people to the internet with the launch of Free Basics in the Maldives. Free Basics, a Facebook-led initiative, is aimed at making internet access available to the two thirds of the world’s population who have never been connected to the internet before. It is available to more than one billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The problem of sabotage of undersea cables was brought to the attention of UN ESCAP and the senior government officials who attended the ICT and DRR Committee meeting by LIRNEasia as far back as November 2010 (see slide 20). Now it’s headline news. Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict. The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
At the 2015 Stockholm Internet Forum that just completed, I moderated one of the best attended unconference sessions titled “Zero rating violates net neutrality. So what?“. The discussion I moderated was heated, with a spectrum of opinions being expressed.  Some said that zero rated content simply creates a ghetto-ized version of the Internet for the poor and therefore should not be allowed.
The raging debate on Zero Rated content is, for the most part, taking place in a vacuum of evidence. A successful campaign by activists  ensured that many of the 1.2 million responses sent to TRAI’s proposed net neutrality regulations in April 2015 called for banning internet.org (Facebook’s Zero Rated offering, now called Free Basics).  The fear that the poor who use the free version of the internet offered by Facebook will not use anything else but Facebook has been one of the harms many advocates put forth.
When these misguided taxes were proposed back in January in the interim budget, I protested. An example is here. They could not get the bills passed in the previous Parliament. It was the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce that labeled them as entity-based. But now they are through.
It is quite intriguing how often moderators and many panelists default to a position that advocates government action and subsidies at the sessions I have heard so far. The evidence is clear on what worked and what did not with regard to first generation connectivity. Government supply failed. Government subsidies were not disbursed for the most part. The Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank was critical of the universal service initiatives supported and funded by the World Bank over 10 years.