Asia Archives — Page 2 of 11


eAsia 2011 begins in Dhaka

Posted on December 1, 2011  /  2 Comments

It seemed like a launch and a coming out party combined. The launch was of Digital Bangladesh. The coming out was of Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the thinker behind Digital Bangladesh who also happens to be the grandson of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and son of Shiekh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. It was a grand vision that was set out, one that would radically increase ICT literacy in Bangladesh, provide government services over e platforms and create service industry jobs for the wave of young people entering the job market. It was ironical that we had to listen to the speeches on digital Bangladesh phoneless, having been compelled to leave all electronics behind in the name of security.
First, you must read Steve Song’s self-described rant. He is a thought leader. Will do anyone good to read his thoughts. What follows is my response: This could be the beginning of a good brawl, so let me first thank Steve for starting the debate right, with some facts wrong and slightly in rant territory. Without these elements one would not get a lively debate.
Many who engage with Communication Policy Research south (CPRsouth), our primary vehicle for capacity building, are associated with the field of communication. It is a wide, sprawling field, which has experienced significant growth in Asia in recent times. An enterprising graduate student took the trouble to poll senior scholars on what they believed to be the most important task for communication scholarship. The responses are here. My views are also included.
Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan has been extensively quoted in an analytical piece on backhaul concerns in Asia, published in Capacity magazine. Coincidentally, this is directly connected to the post a short while back on the data tsunami. One man, however, has come up with an ambitious concept that could potentially dwarf any existing terrestrial projects and radically reduce Asia’s reliance on subsea cables. Abu Saeed Khan is senior policy fellow at the Asia-Pacific ICT policy and regulatory think tank LIRNEasia, and his clear vision is to utilise the extensive Asian Highway Network project by deploying an open access terrestrial optical mesh backbone alongside it. The Asian highway project brings together 32 countries in Asia and Europe and is assisted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) which aims to create a highway system from Japan all the way to Turkey.

Asia not so important for Nokia?

Posted on October 27, 2011  /  0 Comments

It was just a few weeks ago that reports said Asian markets had more or less saved the year for both Ericsson and Nokia. Yet the product launch focuses on Europe and US. Go figure. BTW, these handsets are LTE. Nokia’s chief executive, Stephen A.
It used to be that we had the majority of deaths and the developed economies had the majority of economic damage from disasters. But according to the authoritative CRED-CRUNCH newsletter, Asia seems to absorbing the most of all forms of damage, including economic losses. Whereas 42% of disasters [in the first half of 2011] happened in Asia, 90% of total deaths and 73% of total people affected were from this continent. Moreover, Asia accounted for 83% of total economic damages brought by natural disasters.
Curious why they are not using simple m payments. Also curious why Africa? Standard Chartered Bank and MasterCard have developed a solution that will allow people in the East African nation to make online purchases with their cellphones, obviating the need for a credit or debit card. The service, called PayOnline, will soon be expanded to other African markets. It allows Airtel Money customers to make online purchases via a 16-digit code, much like using a credit card.

The future of m apps

Posted on June 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

I’ve been thinking about m applications for two full days. Not the normal crowd I hang with, regulators, ministry officials, operators; but people who are starting new companies and various people helping them. People working on energy startups, agri-market incubators, and, yes, also ICT entrepreneurs. Two ideas that came up: Most people who think about m apps are still stuck on the Apple App Store. Great model but requires two things LIRNEasia’s people (BOP in emerging Asia) do not have at the present time: smartphones and credit cards to make payments from.
Consumers in Asia get less value for money than their counterparts in N America.  One reason for this is that the key input of international connectivity is expensive (300% that in Europe and N America).  More cables, undersea and terrestrial, are needed to bring these prices down.  The Indian Ocean has fewer cables than the Atlantic and the Pacific. The Asian land mass has almost none.
Telephone ownership and use As latest ITU data reveals, active mobile subscriptions continues to increase the world over. Just under two years ago, mobile subscriptions were reaching the six-billion mark. 2009 data from the ITU suggests we are well on our way to reaching seven billion connections. Developing countries, in particular, experienced a 19 percent increase in mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants between 2008 and 2009, compared with a modest 5 percent growth in developed countries according to the ITU. Mobile subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific alone have now passed the two-billion mark; according to the ITU, mobile subscriptions per 100 rose by 22 percent from 46 in 2008 in 56 in 2009.
Much of the work of LIRNEasia must be seen on the context of connectivity fueling growth.   Connectivity does not mean simply electronic connectivity, but also the removal of barriers, including barriers to trade and investment.  Using comments by Nobel Laureate Micheal Spence at Harvard Forum II last September as the anchor, Rohan talks about how best South Asia, and Sri Lanka in particular, can position itself to ride out the after effects of the Great Recession. Details of the event here. Click here to view presentation.
CHAKULA is a newsletter produced by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Named after the Swahili word for ‘food’, it aims to mobilise African civil society around ICT policy for sustainable development and social justice issues. The latest issue features an e-interview with LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, but it is not the only reason why we thought of highlighting the issue. The content is interesting and very readable. We publish two e-interviews from July 2010 issue here fully, as they are not available on public domain.
We live in an age of hazards. The climate change will make it worse. Be prepared or perish seems to be the nature’s message. At the inaugural public lecture of LIRNEasia’s annual Disaster Risk Reduction events, we will discuss how best to face the future threats and what the communities, government and private sector can do. PRESENTATION Vinya Ariyaratne is General Secretary of the Lanka Jatika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya.
We do not normally use the US telecom policy as an example. But this is definitely something to be emulated. The future of Internet access in Asia is wireless. It’s high time governments started on the hard work of refarming frequencies to meet the demand. The Obama administration is seeking to nearly double the wireless communications spectrum available for commercial use over the next 10 years, an effort that could greatly enhance the ability of consumers to send and receive video and data with smartphones and other hand-held devices.
The Grand Trunk Road, which covers a distance of 2,500 km today, says Wikipedia, is one of South Asia’s oldest and longest major roads. For several centuries, it has linked the eastern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent, running from Bengal, across north India, into Peshawar in Pakistan. The road also passes through the only road boarder between the two most powerful South Asian nations, Wagah. Wagah border point, often called the “Berlin wall of Asia”, is a ceremonial border where each evening there is a retreat ceremony called ‘lowering of the flags’. At that time there is an energetic parade by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Pakistan Rangers soldiers.

Telecom trumps borders, not

Posted on May 5, 2010  /  3 Comments

Rohan Samarajiva is in Pakistan. Near the border, once marked by Mountbatten’s sharp knife, his cell phone links him to India. Airlines do not understand this proximity. Indian participants, to Expert Forum Meeting jointly organized by LIRNEasia and Pakistan Regulator, first travel led west (3 hours to Dubai) and then east (another 3 hours) to cover 678 km between Islamabad and Delhi – a one hour flight if existed. In the backdrop of Thimpu SAARC summit Rohan asks the same question he has been asking for sometime.