General


Digital India Platform (DIP) will be launched in India soon to provide freelance opportunities to computer literate population in India. The Elance-oDesk’s Annual Impact Report 2014 ranks India as the first in top earning freelancer countries. Percentage of population using internet in India is 15.1% (2013) (International Telecommunication Union, 2013). This program will provide opportunities for computer literate to earn from the work open up for public.
LIRNEasia has publicly tabled the proposal of laying fiber along the Asian Highway for universal access to broadband in CommunicAsia on June 2011. At that time we called it LION or Longest International Open-access Network. Light Reading and Total Telecom were cautiously optimistic. The then boss of ITU, who also attended the event, gave cold shoulder to our initiative. Unsurprisingly the ESCAP took us seriously.
LIRNEasia organized and moderated two panels at CommunicAsia 2015 in Singapore earlier this week. Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan will write about the session that he moderated. I was about to write about mine, when Don Sambandaraksa, one of Asia’s best telecom journalists, did this piece for Telecompaper: Myanmar currently has three mobile operators, namely Telenor, Ooredoo, and state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), which has partnered with Japan’s KDDI. Myanmar will soon have a fourth operator, ISP Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP). Demand for mobile services in Myanmar is on the rise.
We have been, officially, persuading the deployment of terrestrial optical fiber along the Asian Highway since 2011. Our point is very simple: Asian countries, unlike the ones in Europe, are interlinked exclusively through submarine cables. Deployment and maintenance of undersea networks keep Asia’s bandwidth manifolds pricier than Europe’s. As a result, the consumers of developing Asia cannot afford broadband. TeleGeography’s global bandwidth prices at major market places have been central to our argument for a pan-Asian cross-border fiber network.
According to the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications in Myanmar, U Thaung Tin, the Government is working on a new spectrum allocation policy. An important aspect of a county’s broadcasting sector, streamlining the nation’s spectrum allocation is bound to be well received by anyone who is engaged in broadcasting. The Ministry is hoping to make the relevant policy document available “soon”. Myanmar currently has three mobile operators; Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT while they will soon have a forth – YTP. Myanmar shows a high demand for mobile services.

2G has a longer life than 3G?

Posted on June 3, 2015  /  0 Comments

I was at a CommunicAsia session on 5G thinking about the meaning of generations of mobile technologies. I had just read this piece, and was thinking how interesting it is that Telenor is planning to shut down 3G before 2G. Confirms the centrality of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in everyone’s thinking about the future of wireless. Telenor Norway’s CTO, Magnus Zetterberg, said the company plans to completely shut down its 3G network in 2020, five years before it closes 2G in 2025. Speaking at the company’s analyst and investor day, Zetterberg talked up the company’s evolution of 4G, established in Norway in 2012, which now accounts for 60 per cent of all mobile data traffic in the country.
Nalaka Gunawardene in his column published in Ravaya on 31 May 2015 looks at the current status, benefits and challenges of Sri Lanka’s Information Technology supported Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry. The column touches on the challenges faced by the industry and mentions the observations made by LIRNEasia Founding Chair, Prof Rohan Samarajiva at a recent panel discussion on ICT innovation and awareness organised by the Business Times Sri Lanka, where Prof Samarajiva commented on problem areas that should be a priority for Sri Lanka such as slow broadband speeds and too-high latency times. The column also touches on the need to enable PayPal payment systems and highlights the potential of the industry to create high-end jobs for skilled professionals in Sri Lanka. The full column can be read here.
LIRNEasia’s ongoing big data research was recently presented at the 13th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries held in Negombo from May 20-22. LIRNEasia researcher Danaja Maldeniya presented preliminary work on transport forecasting using  mobile network big data under the conference track ICT4D Sri Lanka : Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions. |paper|presentation slides|
WSIS is the is the UN’s annual gathering of ICT for Development stakeholders.  The main organisers are ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, though there is significant participation from other agencies such as UNDESA, FAO, UNEP, WHO, UN Women, WIPO, WFP, ILO, WMO, UN, ITC, UPU, UNODC, UNICEF and UN Regional Commission .   The 2015 WSIS Forum, held in Geneva 25-29 May, was special in that this was the place where WISIS met the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Most of the sessions at this year’s WSIS Was organised around specific SDGs that the nations of the world are considering unto at the end of this year. LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya was invited by UNCTAD to participate and give input on how c7.
Ooredoo Myanmar has received two international awards for its MayMay app, recognizing their innovative approach to helping ensure that vital maternal, child health and wellness information is available to women, particularly during and after pregnancy. The app bridges the mobile and health sectors to help ensure that a wealth of useful information is readily available to women across the country both during and after pregnancy. Says Ross Cormack, CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar “MayMay’ is a great example of how our team develops innovative, home-grown solutions that speak to real issues affecting people in Myanmar today.” Today ‘MayMay’ has more than 11,000 users, emphasizing the growing demand for the service. It is free and can be accessed on iOS and Android.
The United States has been at the bleeding edge of universal service policy ever since the term was misinterpreted from the early competitive era. It is therefore worth paying attention to the current FCC efforts. We will soon have US Aid and others promoting these ideas in our parts. More than 12 million households now participate in Lifeline, which was created in 1985 by the Reagan administration to subsidize landline telephone service. In 2008, the program was extended to cover the cost of mobile phones.
The poor state of Internet in the Philippines has received a significant amount of attention in the past few months. LIRNEasia research fellow Grace Mirandilla-Santos has been involved in multiple working groups, senate hearings and has had many interactions with the respective regulatory agency and ministry on how to introduce some form of quality measures. Operators are fighting back on compliance benchmarks. The regulator has requested for a final set of recommendations on the methodology to follow in setting standards for monitoring and compliance of broadband quality of service. Grace has submitted these recommendations (based on our previous work) on behalf of LIRNEasia.

No more Mr. Nice (Tax) Guy

Posted on May 22, 2015  /  1 Comments

Although Myanmar’s Parliament had approved the imposition of a 5% commercial telecom tax on mobile phone top ups last year, the Government hadn’t previously enforced it due to the rapid sector expansion that occurred in the last 12 months. According to a press release from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), this exemption is to come to an end with the adoption of the Amendment to the Commercial Tax law last month, and the tax will be collected from the 1st of June 2015. One wonders how this will affect mobile usage in the country. According to the findings of LIRNEasia’s baseline survey on mobile usage, as many as 74% of those who access the internet do so using their mobile phones. Will the rise in cost be significant enough to reduce the amount of data going up and down?
LIRNEasia Founding Chair, Professor Rohan Samarajiva’s comments that Sri Lanka should facilitate an open data culture were highlighted in a recent issue of the Sunday Times Sri Lanka (Business Times section).  These comments were made at a Business Times panel discussion on ICT innovation and awareness held on Wednesday 13th May at the newspaper office auditorium. The article notes Professor Samarajiva’s observations that facilitating an open data culture would foster products being built out of the public Big Data resources currently restricted by the government.  Professor Samarajiva also observed that the Sri Lankan government could help local innovators by allocating pilot programmes for new technologies, pointing to the example of MillenniumIT, which received initial assistance and continued support from the Colombo Stock Exchange. The article also notes Professor Samarajiva’s comments on problem areas that are a priority for Sri Lanka, including slow broadband speeds and the need to put proper payment systems such as PayPal in place.
Yoshio Utsumi should know what he speaks of. He was elected as Secretary General in 1998. I remember casting the vote on behalf of Sri Lanka in Minneapolis. He served two terms and was succeeded by Hamadoun Toure, who was elected as Director of ITU-D also in 1998. Utsumi served two terms and stepped down in 2007.
LIRNEasia recently conducted a nationally representative survey of ICT and knowledge use in Myanmar.  Some of the top-line results were presented for the first time at the ICTD2015 conference last week. The panel was organised by Rich Ling, PhD and Elisa Oreglia, PhD of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Slides can be found here. This is an updated version of the slides which were presented on 18 May 2015.