Policy and Regulation — Page 2 of 10


On 19-20 October 2021, LIRNEasia Chair Rohan Samarajiva led the discussion on how digitalization and regulation can contribute to the provision of better bus services to the citizens of the Central Province of Sri Lanka. 
Successful reform of telecom (or information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure) sectors requires ex-ante, sector-specific regulation under present market and technological conditions. Theories and concepts relevant to regulatory agency design and the practice are not nation-specific.
LIRNEasia Chair, Rohan Samarajiva and I  attended the first drafting group meeting for developing the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Action Plan 2022-2026 on 25 May. The meeting was convened by UNESCAP, and chaired by Mohamed Shareef, Maldives' newly appointed State Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology. 
LIRNEasia discussed policy challenges of ensuring access for all as well as the challenges of working from home during a pandemic for women at the the inaugural Sri Lanka Internet Day, organised by the Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) on 6-7 April 2021.
There was overlap between budget analysis and an invitation to contribute to thinking on how things could be made better for Jaffna using ICTs. The result is described here.
Image of Onno Purbo at LIRNEasia research event in Indonesia, 2005 Now in 2020, the Postel Award has been given to LIRNEasia alumnus Onno Purbo. We congratulate Onno for this well-deserved honor. What he did before and after his association with us is what won him the approbation of the jurors of the Postel Award. Onno played an important part in one of our formative wins, something that defined LIRNEasia. In this post, what we can talk about is what we know.
Chair Rohan Samarajiva was interviewed by Roar Media on the implications of using drones for identifying those violating curfew orders.
In a wide-ranging interview, the Director General of the Sri Lanka Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) explained the reasons for requiring mandatory registration of IMEI numbers from October 1, 2020, saying all commercial vendors of terminal devices had to be registered with the TRC and that the IMEIs of the devices they sold had to be registered as well. He stated that these actions were being taken to protect consumers. Consumer protection in a market economy is anchored on information asymmetry. The default position is caveat emptor: let the buyer beware. Each consumer has a right to decide on the price-quality bundle he/she wishes to buy.
The New York Times ran a poignant story about the travails of children unable to go to school in Indonesia. Today, about 13 million people across 12,500 remote villages have no access to the internet, said Setyanto Hantoro, president director of Telkomsel, the country’s largest telecommunications company, which is cooperating with the government to provide service in far-flung areas. Among the areas where Telkomsel is working to bring access are Kenalan, where the three girls study by the road, and the village of Bah Pasungsang, where as many as 20 students a day climb trees to study. But those efforts will not be completed until 2022, Mr. Setyanto said.
Once, the countries breaking up the Internet were China and assorted developing countries; those lecturing them not to do so were rich countries which were members of the OECD. How the world has changed. The Trump Administration is taking the hammer to the Internet. Australia is joining in a big way: With each passing day, the World Wide Web is becoming an outdated name. Facebook warned on Monday that it would block users and news organizations in Australia from sharing local and international news stories on its social network and Instagram if the country passed a proposed code of conduct aimed at curbing the power of Facebook and Google.

Internet versus internets

Posted by on August 10, 2020  /  0 Comments

For the longest time, US negotiators of international resolutions, statements, etc. which had something to do with the internet, used to quibble over capitalization of the word. They insisted on uppercase Internet because they said it was one single thing and therefore should be capitalized. Negotiators from countries like China and Iran, obviously disagreed. They preferred internet.
We like to think we can foretell developments in the industries we study. I can recall meeting a Jio operative at Abu Saeed Khan’s home in Dhaka before they launched and chatting about what was to come. We all agreed that Reliance would disrupt the market. All I could come up with was that voice would most likely be free, or very cheap. That was nothing very insightful, because that was where the technology was at that time.
On Friday, 26 June, 15:00-17:00 Central European Time (1830-2030 IST), the International Telecommunication Union is convening leading economic experts to discuss COVID19 and the Digital Economy: James Sullivan from J.P. Morgan, Mayssaa Issa from Delta Partners, Matt Yardley from Analysys Mason, Germán Cufré from IFC – International Finance Corporation, Shaun Collins from CCS Insight, Steve Brazier from Canalys, Paul Lam, CFA, FRSA from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Tim Kelly from The World Bank, Alison Gillwald from Research ICT Africa, Alexandra Rehak from Omdia, Audrey Plonk from OECD – OCDE, Rohan Samarajiva from LIRNEasia and Guy ZIBI from Xalam Analytics will explore emerging research on: (a) COVID19 impact on Digital Economy; and (b) Impact of Digital Infrastructure on recovery. Panel will be opened by ITU SG Houlin Zhao and Telecommunication Development Director Doreen Bogdan-Martin. The rapporteur is Raul Katz.
As everyone knows, COVID-19 and associated lockdowns have reduced electricity demand and increased demand for data. Especially in countries like Sri Lanka which are dependent on imported coal/diesel for production of electricity, there is a great interest in increasing energy efficiency. The IEA has published an interesting report on energy use by data centers and in data transmission. Strong growth in demand for data centre services continues to be offset by ongoing efficiency improvements for servers, storage devices, network switches and data centre infrastructure, as well as a shift to much greater shares of cloud and hyperscale data centres. Hyperscale data centres are very efficient large-scale cloud data centres that run at high capacity, owing in part to virtualisation software that enables data centre operators to deliver greater work output with fewer servers.
The problem with regulating information is its inherent slipperyness. In 2018, when invited to speak on the subject I quoted a Deputy Minister of the Malaysian Government, speaking in Parliament: Datuk Jailani Johari, the Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister, explained that fake news is information that is confirmed to be untrue, especially by the authorities or parties related to the news. He said that 1MDB has been investigated by the police and Attorney-General and the reports have been presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is made up of lawmakers from both sides of the divide. Jailani added that recommendations from the PAC report have been accepted and been implemented by the Government. .
One can debate the pros and cons of SIM registration. It is difficult to argue that SIMs should be treated differently from cars, which can also be used for good and ill. Cars are therefore registered in ways that associate a natural or legal person with the device. Yet, as our colleague Htaike Htaike Aung points out below, there can be no justification for the abuse of funds built up from a 2 percent tax on telecom users to support a SIM database, that has nothing to do with the stated objectives of the universal service fund. According to the strategy paper seen by The Myanmar Times, the fund is intended for developing infrastructure and digital literacy training programmes, connecting people in commercially non-viable areas and implementing projects for minorities, persons with disabilities and poor people.