General — Page 5 of 245


Hearing the many reports on prosecutions under section 66(d) of the Law that was enacted in 2013, I went back to my files. In the extensive comments we provided there is nothing that refers to the offenses sections. The offenses chapter is peculiarly drafted. Section 65 is similar to what is found in any law that requires a license to be obtained for a specified activity. Section 67 is again a necessary section, specifying the penalty for using equipment without a license.
The first time this happened was when Pacific Century Cyber Works (PCCW), controlled by Richard Li, acquired Hong Kong Telecom. But that 2000 adventure did not end well. PCCW’s stock price tanked. Seventeen years later, things are different. The real story may not be a state-sanctioned infusion of private capital into a 100% state owned infrastructure company, but the first move by firms in the upper layers to take over entities in the infrastructure level.
Dr Saman Kelegama, the head of the government supported economics think tank Institute of Policy Studies, has suddenly passed away while on official business in Thailand. He was at the helm of IPS for 22 years under different administrations which is quite an achievement and one that many will talk about. I worked with him on the India Sri Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement joint study group back in 2003. We were both attacked by the petty opponents of any trade agreement with India. He was appointed to head trade negotiations by the new government.
Apparently, the mechanism to shut off the screen when an iPhone was brought close to one’s head did not recognize black hair at the outset. The book review has such nuggets. The book must have much more. In fact, although it would eventually emerge as the gleaming quintessence of the collaboration between the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Apple’s design magus, Jony Ive, Purple could seem like a nightmare of overwork, insoluble technical tarballs and political infighting. “You created a pressure cooker of a bunch of really smart people with an impossible deadline, an impossible mission, and then you hear that the future of the entire company is resting on it,” Andy Grignon, one of the iPhone’s key engineers, has said.
LIRNEasia started working on broadband quality of service experience as long as as 2007. The early part of the story is narrated in this five minute video. One of the earliest conclusions we reached was that speed was just one dimension of performance. We communicated these findings to TRAI as long ago as in 2009. It’s a pity that speed is the only aspect mentioned in the title of the consultation paper for which comments are due by the 29th of June.
Looking for something in my files, I found this conference paper that is almost 10 years old. The organizers pressured me to write it but then they did not keep their side of the bargain and publish the proceedings. It requires a few hours of work to make it up to date. The basic structure is fine, and could even be used to assess the WTO compliance of other countries that have made telecom commitments. Pity it never saw the light of day.
A friend of mine who served as comptroller of a large diversified conglomerate once told me that there was a clear difference between the business units within the conglomerate. Those which produced items for export were fixated on efficiency and were nimble in terms of responding to market demand. Those who produced goods and services for the local market were fat and lazy. I was reminded of this when I read this report about India trying to do something about government capacity. Unlike in government entities that serve citizens, those that engage with the outside world cannot be fat and lazy.
In a parable I worked up in 2012, I speculated on the possibilities of joint ventures between Internet companies such as Facebook and the last-mile access companies to enhance the user experience. Some details of a dispute in South Korea shed light on the problem: According to SKB, there were initially two ways to connect to Facebook in Korea: via a direct connection to Facebook’s server in Hong Kong and via rerouting to a local cache server in Korea operated by local telecom provider KT. The cache server is used to save online content locally in temporary storage, called a cache, and in turn improve the connection speed for accessing foreign internet services. Facebook currently pays KT to use its cache server. SKB argued that Facebook deliberately cut off its link to KT’s faster cache server last December and has since been clashing over network maintenance issues.
When I was living in US Midwest, Delphi was a familiar name. It was a company that employed thousands to make original equipment for vehicles. But now, according to NYT, Delphi is positioning itself to be a player in the data business: Delphi hopes to create a new business that can gather vast amounts of data from vehicles — about how and where they go, how they’re driven and how they’re running. The company then envisions selling insights drawn from the data trove to automakers, insurance companies and possibly even advertisers. A driver who frequently drives to Starbucks locations, for example, could be targeted with Starbucks coupons via email or text.
So there was this article in a Myanmar newspaper: Myanmar only has two undersea fibre-optic cables and two cross-border cables for its Internet traffic. By contrast regional leader Singapore has a total of 21 international fibre links, 15 of which are undersea and six cross-border. Malaysia has 17 links – 13 undersea and four cross-border; Thailand has 10 undersea and four cross-border; the Philippines has nine undersea and six cross-border; and Vietnam has five undersea and two cross-border cables. Cambodia lags behind with three undersea Internet fibre cables and one cross-border cable. In South Asia, Bangladesh has two undersea and two cross-border, while Sri Lanka has seven undersea and four cross-border cables.
The introduction of GST to replace the patchwork of state taxes is perhaps the Modi government’s greatest economic achievement. The new regime is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2017. Like everything in India, it’s complicated, with multiple bands and exceptions. It’s interesting that the 18 percent GST rate for telecom services is being challenged on the basis that it is a necessity. Imposing 18 percent tax on telecom is likely to increase the overall tax burden and therefore may have a negative impact on the consumers’ expenses.
They were extremely high to start with. But still, a good thing. Sri Lanka should be careful we don’t take over Pakistan’s position as the most taxed ICT sector. The breaks will see the withholding tax on mobile services drop from 14% to 12.5%, while federal excise duty will fall from 18.
The consequences of throwing the kill switch on the Internet are set out in Gyanendra’s Law and its various exceptions. In this context, an interview with the editor of the Kathmandu Post who experienced the throwing of the kill switch in Nepal by King Gyanendra himself is illuminating: UA: What was the impact of the internet shutdown on the media? PP: It was very, very difficult. At the time, all our correspondents were using the internet to send news and it became very chaotic to manage the newsroom. We were not in a position to send reporters to events.
The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, the precursor to the NAFTA, was the first enforceable trade agreement to cover services. It’s always easier to negotiate with a few parties, than with many, especially when breaking new ground. But in this proposal to introduce new binding commitments in a tripartite agreement, they are proposing to take a chapter from a large plurilateral agreement and use it in a trilateral agreement. The NAFTA Parties could negotiate a new NAFTA Chapter on Digital Trade, using the Trans-Pacific Partnership e-commerce chapter as a starting point. Such provisions, which would be used in subsequent free trade agreements involving the NAFTA Parties, would provide an important counterweight to countries that are imposing unjustified restrictions on data flows; requiring that data storage be localized or that source code or other intellectual property be shared with local partners as a condition of doing business; restricting access to online content, which is creating a balkanized Internet; and undermining the private sector’s role in developing and maintaining a free and open Internet.
Linnet Taylor correctly points out that US case law does not have applicability outside the US. However, the third-party doctrine set out in the Smith v Maryland case differentiated between transaction-generated data on a telecom network and the content of what was communicated. Now there’s likely to be a different governing precedent, for those under US law: The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether the government needs a warrant to obtain information from cellphone companies showing their customers’ locations. The Supreme Court has limited the government’s ability to use GPS devices to track suspects’ movements, and it has required a warrant to search cellphones. The new case, Carpenter v.
The debate on zero rating has been heavy on overwrought analogies and light on actual evidence. Here is evidence from focus groups of people who actually use zero rating in Myanmar. Research conducted by Peter Cihon and Helani Galpaya with support from Mozilla Foundation and others. Perception and visibility aside, users do not remain within the ‘walled garden’. Most active zero-rated-content users also use other Internet services, including Google, news websites, and apps.