LIRNEasia CEO took part in the Leadership Summit at the ITU Telecom World 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Yesterday she took part in a panel discussion making innovations in ICT work for social impact, and used the results of LIRNEasia’s Systematic Review titled “Mobile-phone interventions for improving economic and productive outcomes for farm and non-farm rural enterprises and households in low and middle-income countries” to make the point about network rollout and good regulation.
As election campaigning heats up in Myanmar with D day less than one month away, Facebook is being used as a key tool in getting information across to the public. According to the news item published in the Frontier Myanmar, a member of a key political party in Myanmar claims that this is a useful medium by which to keep the public updated. The length and breadth of mobile usage, and particularly, the outreach of Facebook in the country, has been quoted from the nationwide baseline telecommunications survey carried out by LIRNEasia in February and March this year; the results of which were disseminated in July. The full article can be accessed here
below is the long version of the pitch we made to the Stockholm Internet Forum. Hopefully, it will gain enough votes to be included. Billions are yet to be connected to the Internet. Some lessons can be drawn from the case of the previous success story of connecting billions to voice telephony. For example, from experience with industry-specific taxes and universal service funds we have a much better understanding of how taxes and subsidies are likely to affect access to and affordability of Internet.
Manu Joseph hits back at the overheated rhetoric driving the opposition to zero rating. He also mentions the Quartz piece citing Helani’s report from the field in Indonesia. A lazy, neurotic suspicion of the large corporation is also behind the obtuse alarm over Free Basics. But the very strength of the parallel Internet for the poor is that it is corporate strategy. Mark Zuckerberg has tried his best to give it a humanitarian spin, which may not be wholly a lie, but I do hope the venture is not purely altruistic.
We tried very hard to get the Teleuse in Myanmar research findings disseminated before the big tidal wave of the 2015 Myanmar Election rolled in, washing away all else. But we were not completely successful and were somewhat disappointed in the amount of coverage we received. So we were very pleased to see the data being used in conversations about the election: Since the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in 2014, unprecedented numbers of Myanmar citizens have obtained mobile phones, and with that internet access. A recent survey conducted by LIRNEasia on Myanmar’s ICT development found that 58 percent of households have access to a SIM card and 57 percent to a mobile phone handset. The survey also found that 17 percent of all phone owners use the Facebook application, behind only those using “Voice over IP” applications such as Viber and Skype (24 percent) and chat applications like Whatsapp and Facebook messenger (20 percent).
Now for something completely different. Empathy is a trait I greatly value. Apparently, it is not being destroyed by Facebook. “In face-to-face connections, you tend to stay with people you’re most familiar with or have most in common with,” said Tracy Alloway, an associate professor of psychology and the lead author of the paper. “But Facebook can break down those boundaries.
To me, Google Loon has always been just another backhaul option. And one in the early testing stages. It fitted with Google investments in undersea cables and O3B. Couldn’t quite understand what people were getting their knickers in a twist about. This is now confirmed.
It certainly is nice to see social media being put to good use. Since 2009, the US Government Scientists (USGS) have teamed up with social media giant Twitter in receiving data on earthquakes. The USGS has about 2000 sensors planted in and outside the US listening to tiny movements in the earth’s crust. The responses vary. Sensors pick up movements and report back to the federal agency, but some are too small to cause panic.
Helani Galpaya asks the most basic question in a Council on Foreign Relations blog. She bases her position on evidence from the field: her direct observations in Java that went around the world and the recent Myanmar baseline Teleuse study. In the end, the best defense against the possible downsides of ZR is high levels of competition at all parts of the broadband value chain—content, application, devices, international connectivity—not just in retail mobile connectivity. Given the low capacity of many regulatory institutions in Asia, it probably makes sense for regulators to focus on creating a competitive environment and let the ZR battle play out, while being ready to act if actual harm occurs. If regulators insist on acting to enforce net neutrality policies, they could take other actions, such as making ZR offerings time-limited or mandating the first click outside of the walled garden also be zero-rated.
I titled a piece I wrote on Myanmar a while back as “10 to 80 in five years.” Now after just one year of operations, Telenor Myanmar, not the largest operator in Myanmar, has over 20 SIMs per 100 people, all by itself. That would place the overall SIMs/100 number above 50. After just one year. So it may be time we shift our attention to more interesting and challenging things, like getting more people access to Internet.
Spectrum is a scarce resource, made even more scarce by the difficulties governments have in refarming it. Efficient use of spectrum should be a high priority. It is obvious that allowing firms to use market mechanisms to use the resource more efficiently is a good thing. The question is why this is not done. One part of the answer is the need of governments to maximize revenues from spectrum.
When everybody and everybody seemed to be in the running for licenses in Myanmar, Digicel was one of the most aggressive competitors. Digicel already employs 893 people in Myanmar, with a further 3,500 earmarked for hiring. Digicel is currently the title sponsor of the Myanmar Football Federation and the Myanmar Special Olympics Federation. But now it’s out. Selling out to a major regional operator, Axiata, according to reports: The Myanmar tower market is expected to be one of South East Asia’s largest and fastest growing telecommunication infrastructure service markets, the statement added.
I used to say that regulation is public administration done well. We take decisions based on evidence and broad consultation. We try our best to reduce regulatory risk and create the best conditions for investment. Basically good governance. I’d been engaged with services trade since around 1990 when I was intrigued by why Canada wanted the free trade agreement with the US more than the US.
Mr Banerjee, Ms Duflo and several others economist conducted a research to investigate whether a multifaceted graduation program can help the extreme poor establish sustainable self-employment activities and generate lasting improvements in their well-being. Multi-pronged approach is relatively expensive to implement, but the theory of change is that the combination of these activities is necessary and sufficient to obtain a persistent impact on poor. The program targets the poorest members in a village and provides a productive asset grant, training and support, life skills coaching, temporary cash consumption support, and typically access to savings accounts and health information or services. In each country, the program was adjusted to suit different contexts and cultures, while staying true to the same overall principles. Research conducted six randomized trials in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru, with more than 10,000 poor household, they concluded multifaceted approach to increasing income and well-being for the ultrapoor is sustainable and cost-effective.
Colombo was recently the host of the South Asian Urban Forum 2015 that was held from 21st-23rd September 2015. The main objective of this event was to encourage researchers to approach the rapid urbanization of South Asia from the viewpoint of South Asians. LIRNEasia researchers working on the Big Data for Development research participated in the forum and presented our ongoing research at the Researchers’ Forum that was held on the third day at the Department of Town and Country Planning of the University of Moratuwa. The audience included experienced researchers in urban infrastructure and planning, was held at the department of town and country planning of University of Moratuwa. Danaja Maldeniya and Kaushalya Madhawa presented their ongoing work.
We’ve been working on nudges, randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews for years. Now, with big data, we’re proposing experimentation. This is what governments in the developed economies are doing. Perhaps even more than new ideas, the behavioral group is bringing a new approach to government. Experimentation is the key: Different nudges are tried systematically, results are quantified and, even after the best approach is selected, the team goes back to see how things are working.