First meeting of the Working Group on the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway was held on 1 and 2 September 2015, at the Songdo Convensia in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It was co-organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the National Information Society Agency of the Republic of Korea, with the support of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea. More than 40 officials from 20 governments, international and regional organizations, international financial institutions and representatives of the private sector attended this event. China Telecom Global, Rostelecom and KT came along with the Chinese, Russian and Korean government delegates. Bangladesh, Iran, and Myanmar, for the first time, have sent senior officials to draft the master plan of Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative.
We have three press releases on the Myanmar teleuse baseline survey pointing out three particular stories. Press releases are available in both English and Myanmar as follow ; Fewer women own phones compared to men. But due to shared use, the usage of phones is not very different between men and women. 99% of Ward/Village Leaders carry Mobile Phones. Only 89.
My favorite definition of Internet is from Jim Cowie: “The Internet is a robust virtual infrastructure comprised of tens of thousands of communicating enterprises, each seeking to maximize profit according to local rules and business conditions.” And the Data Centers function as the factories-cum-warehouses of Internet. Thousands of servers and routers being stacked across the vast space emit enormous heat in the air. That’s why highly sophisticated air cooling systems are installed to maintain proper temperature and Internet. Any glitch in the power supply system results disastrous consequences.
We have isolated 3 stories which came out of our Myanmar teleuse baseline survey findings which we thought should be placed in the spotlight in the form of press releases. And they are as follows; Fewer women own phones compared to men. But due to shared use, the usage of phones is not very different between men and women. 99% of Ward/Village Leaders carry Mobile Phones. Only 89.
Last week I was told that the authorities/companies in Gujarat had succeeded in shutting down Internet without shutting down voice service. This was thought to be some kind of technical achievement. Now it’s on the other end of India. With the death of 1 more person, the death toll in Churachandpur district during the current violence has increased to 8. Curfew is still on with heavily armed state and central forces personnel patrolling the streets.
Two members of CPRsouth, Ibrahim Kholiul Rohman and Hasib Ahsan Nadeem, have collaborated on an evidence-based op-ed published in Indonesia’s leading English daily. I am very pleased about this. This kind of decentralized initiative is what we sought to foster through CPRsouth. But decentralized initiative also means that the policy recommendations may not be in line with what LIRNEasia would say, based on its research. Here is one such divergence.
Luckily, the unlimited/”all-you-can-eat” culture was not part of the Internet landscape in Asia. Even in its birthplace, it has been in decline, except in the imaginations of the passionate and uninformed. Here is a piece that illustrates the retreat from unlimited. T-Mobile also practices what is called network deprioritization. In areas where networks are congested, T-Mobile will look for the highest data consumers — those who have surpassed 21 gigabytes of data — and give priority in providing higher speeds to those who have consumed less data.
When the paper by Shazna Zuhyle and Grace Mirandilla was presented at CPRsouth 10 in Taipei a few days back the discussant, Reg Coutts from Australia, asked why the paper supported action by the regulatory agency as a remedy for the manifest problems of quality in the Philippines market. My answer, on behalf of Shazna and Grace, was that regulatory action was an interim solution until the international backhaul problems were resolved. It was incomplete. I am happy that Grace has filled he gap in my answer. Another underlying problem was the duopoly in the access market.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) of Myanmar has received 17 applications from local companies to form a consortium, which will operate the fourth mobile network. The winner will be announced in September. Authorities will start the process of selecting a foreign investor for the local consortium thereafter. The license will be granted for a 15-year term, said Reuters. Meanwhile, TeleGeography has reported that there is already an informal fourth mobile operator named MECTel in Myanmar.
For most of human history, people have moved. It is only in the relatively short window after the establishment of the Westphalian state, especially after the collapse of the empires after the Second World War, that these movements have been constrained. The logic of globalization is based on the mobility of factors of production. Some economists like Paul Collier have chosen to ignore the need for labor to be mobile too. Those who see the technology glass as half-empty have seen the strong surveillance capabilities of the state as putting an end to movement of people across borders.
While announcing lowered call and data rates, CEO of Telenor Myanmar, Petter Furberg goes on to say that almost half of all mobile subscriptions is Telenor. 12 of the 14 states and regions of Myanmar are now covered by Telenor, 55% of whose subscriber base are data users. He further claims that while expanding coverage in the country, the strength and quality of signal is being improved in areas that are already being served. This is definitely a welcome sign, in a country where 70% of mobile phone users are on smart phones. The full news item can be found here.
Further to Rohan’s remark, I am embedding the NTP-2015_Draft_English. Recent outcome of the ILDTS Policy may also excite or intrigue the readers.
I did not have the opportunity to study the draft NTP during its brief airing, so I will not comment on the document itself or on my colleague Abu Saeed Khan’s comments. But if it does not void the counter-productive Internation Long Distance Telecom Services policy, it cannot deliver. Once approved, the revised policy will supersede the one of 1998. Yet the International Long Distance Telecom Service (ILDTS) Policy of 2010 remains applicable. This controversial policy was enacted by the unelected and unaccountable government during 2007-08.
We saw that Myanmarese were bypassing feature phones and directly going to smartphones more than a year ago. The numbers we saw from the demand side survey conducted in Feb-Mar 2015 were close to 65 percent. This report says 70 percent. Should be right. The telco’s user base now exceeds 10 million people across 12 of 14 regions and states, Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg said in an August 19 statement.
Myanmar is breathing on Malaysia’s neck in terms of unique mobile subscribers. Its unique mobile subscription is already ahead of Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia – according to GSMA. Nielsen also advises its clients to bet on “rapid up-take of mobile technology” by Myanmar’s youngsters. Repeated outages of Internet, however, stain the country’s digital profile. Doug Madory of Dyn Research compares the situation to closing a highway at rush hour.
I can recall the astronomical ARPUs in Afghanistan (over USD 80/month) when that market was opened up. Then, after normal Afghans who were not earning expat salaries started using the service, the ARPUs came down to more normal levels. There are plenty of expats roaming the streets of Yangon, but they have no discernible impact in the fast-expanding networks of this country of 50 million plus. But the ARPUs are high. We can confirm this from the sample survey we conducted in Feb-Mar 2015.