General Archives — Page 37 of 244 — 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.
On Monday (May 18, 2015), 60 people from digital-rights groups in 28 countries including India, Pakistan and Indonesia have strongly protested against internet.org in an open letter to Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It is our belief that Facebook is improperly defining net neutrality in public statements and building a walled garden in which the world’s poorest people will only be able to access a limited set of insecure websites and services. Further, we are deeply concerned that Internet.org has been misleadingly marketed as providing access to the full Internet, when in fact it only provides access to a limited number of Internet-connected services that are approved by Facebook and local ISPs.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has deferred the auction of 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz spectrum until June 10. Its warning of bringing new entrants has already failed to tame the boycotting mobile operators. Now the regulator is blackmailing the mobile industry on QoS. Sunil Kanti Boss, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, said the mobile phone operators need more spectrum, and if the leading operators do not take part in the upcoming spectrum auctions, they cannot offer quality services. “If operators fail to ensure quality services, they will be penalised for it,” the BTRC chairman said at a press conference at his office yesterday, on the eve of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2015.

Value of making datasets open

Posted on May 17, 2015  /  0 Comments

I was listening to a presentation on Work-related Use and Positive Livelihood Outcomes among Mobile Phone Users in Asia by Komathi Ale*, Uni. of Southern California, at ICTD 2015 in Singapore. I was pleased to see some of our publications being cited, but that was just the beginning. After the literature review, the author announced that the entire paper was based on the LIRNEasia teleuse@BOP data set that was publicly available. We have made all datasets open since the beginning of the teleuse@BOP work.
Telenor Myanmar has reported how many lawful intercept requests ity received in the first six months of operation: On the institutional side, the government still lacks the skills, process and willingness to make decisions, Furberg said, which can lead to delays. “Corruption is still very high on our agenda,” he said, admitting that Telenor Myanmar has received one claim of corruption in its supply chain that it investigated but was unable to prove. Telenor also has to tread carefully when law enforcement make requests for historical usage data about its customers to ensure it strikes the right balance between crime prevention and privacy. “We can’t hand out information without a court order,” Furberg said, but at the moment it is not always clear which courts in Myanmar handle these cases. So far, Telenor has received 15 requests for historical usage data and has complied with three, he said, which were linked with drug offences and missing persons.

Roadmap for revising NOFN-India

Posted on May 13, 2015  /  1 Comments

Indian Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar said that NOFN India is to be revised and renamed as BharatNet. The revised road map will emphasis the participation of states. Only 20,000 village panchayats were been given broadband connectivity by march 2015 although the target was 50,000. This proposed project is to be completed by December 2017. See here for more information.
I have attempted to access www.internet.org and ended up with viewing the following message instead: Right now, Internet.org is only available with a Robi Axiata Ltd. SIM card.
Ooredoo Myanmar has signed a deal with a Singaporean company for the construction and lease of 500 new mobile towers. Thus, at the end of 18 months, the telecom giant should see their tower strength surpassing the 2000 mark. At the moment, the coverage provided by the private operators Ooredoo and Telenor outside of the main cities are scanty at best. One wonders where these 500 new towers will be located. GSM estimates that Myanmar needs a minimum of 17,000 towers in order to provide 70% mobile coverage in the country.
Have not had the time to do the usual analysis, so was happy to see this report in the Financial Times. The recently released 2015 edition of the Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum has placed Sri Lanka at 65th position in networked readiness among 143 economies surveyed. Singapore is ranked as the topmost country in networked readiness and replaces Finland, which had been number one since 2013. Japan, which climbs an impressive six places on a year-on-year basis to 10th position, also joins the top 10. Sri Lanka is the highest-ranked South Asian nation this year and eighth among the Asian nations, beaten only by Singapore (1st), Japan (10th), Korea (12th), Hong Kong (14th), Taiwan (18th), Malaysia (32nd) and China (62nd).
Cass Sunstein wrote Republic.com in 2001. I have the book. He updated it. The basic thesis was that people would enclose themselves in ideological bubbles and not hear the other side.
The first surprise comes from Telenor which has more customers than Ooredoo despite a late start and less money to spend. The second surprise also comes from Telenor, which has apparently made an unexpected profit. There are now at least 18.1 million SIM cards in active use, according to the operators, not including cards that have been sold but are not used regularly. MPT told Reuters last week it had 8.
All eyes are on Nepal as the country is recovering from the earthquake that occurred a few weeks ago. This article discusses progressive trends that exist in Nepal despite its political instability. Uncensored internet, freedom of speech and inclusion of minorities are lessons that other countries in the region can learn from Nepal.
Some questions that came to mind as I read the report linked below. Myanmar has 325 townships, the third level of administrative units. So, 199 out of 325 is pretty good. But is it that Telenor is in a central location in 199 townships or they cover the entirety of 199 townships? How does Ooredoo calculate its population coverage?