Bhutan


Research first presented at the CPRsouth conference in Yangon in September 2017 was cited by LIRNEasia's senior policy fellow Abu Saeed Khan in a presentation made to senior government officials, environmental officers, mobile operators and academics of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
On the final day of UNIGF, IGF academy fellows participated in a debriefing activity to identify and look back on their journey to UNIGF 2016 and the way forward of the National Internet Governance Forums (NIGFs). At this debriefing the Asian fellows highlighted the importance of help with fund raising and having closed door meetings with potential stakeholders. Also, they said that its not possible for them to participate in all the calls of the IGF academy due to their busy schedules. The fellows suggested that its better if one fellow out of the two fellows from a given country participate in a call its sufficient and that the fellows can alternate. The fellows pointed out the importance of low emphasis in the structures and high emphasis on subject matter.
Bangladesh is emerging as an important player in regional connectivity. Recently it has connected Northeast India to faster lane of Internet through a 10 Gbps international link of its submarine cable systems. It has prompted the landlocked Bhutan to be in the cue. Currently a Bhutanese telecoms delegate is negotiating a 5 Gbps international internet bandwidth deal with their Bangladeshi counterpart. Terrestrial transit through India is critical for Bhutan to access the submarine cable facilities of Bangladesh, says a press report.
A 2 1/2 day regional workshop on “Internet Governance Processes” for national champions selected from 4 countries (Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh) is currently being held in Renuka City Hotel, Sri Lanka. This regional workshop is the commencing workshop of the IGF Academy, Asia counterpart. This academy aims to strengthen Internet governance in global south. At the end of the 6 month fellowship, the national champions are expected to develop road maps on lessons learnt by intervening in Internet governance processes in their respective countries. Transfer guides on how to replicate what was done in this program will be developed after the fellows participate in IGF in December.
Pakistan has officially allowed private carriers to terrestrially plug the country with all the four neighbors including India. This multidimensional landmark decision makes Pakistan the buckle of South Asia-Central Asia telecoms belt. This route is embedded in our proposed trans-Asian connectivity for affordable broadband. It took us three years to convince ESCAP, which dubs our concept “Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.” Pakistan currently exports internet bandwidth to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Washington Post refers to Doug Madory as, “The man who can see the Internet.” Unsurprisingly he has been monitoring Nepal’s state of Internet since earthquake struck on April 25. Outages of Nepalese data centers, ISPs and enterprises have been graphically diagnosed in Doug’s report. A recent evaluation of Internet infrastructure in South Asia commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) classified Nepal’s international connectivity as ‘weak’ and its fixed and mobile infrastructure as ‘limited’. While the loss of Internet connectivity pales in comparison to the loss of life, the ability to communicate both domestically and internationally will be crucial in coming days for the coordination of relief efforts already underway.
I was in Thimphu, speaking to more than half of the small regulatory agency’s professional staff. I’ve been engaged with BICMA since its inception in 2001 and I routinely volunteer to do something with the staff when I visit. This time, I offered to talk about systematic reviews, centered on one that we completed recently on the economic benefits of mobiles in rural areasbust re Bhutan had spent 80 percent of its universal-service funds on rural rollout and BICMA was interested in demonstrating to government what impacts the rollout had achieved. I guess the most effective in terms of persuading politicians would a new study that specifically looks at the results in Bhutan. But given the nature of this Himalayan country, around 800,000 people distributed across a series of valleys that are separated by mountain ranges, this would be a costly exercise.
The 2014 Measuring the Information Society report is out. No surprises at the top: Denmark is now at 1 and Korea is now 2; just changed places from 2012 ranking. Significant movement from the Gulf countries: UAE goes from 46 to 23 and Qatar from 42 to 34. UAE is almost too difficult to believe. No good news from South Asia, sadly.
Bhutan built an IT Park in a nice location between the principal city and the airport. The promise of those who put this project, funded by the World Bank, was that Bhutan would attract foreign BPO firms to Thimphu to create white-collar jobs for young people. In turn, it is possible that they had received assurances from several large IT & ITES firms in India that they would set up operations in Thimphu. Anyway, the agreements were signed and the IT Park built. But no one came [Correction: Not as many as expected came; there are two companies at the IT Park].
Bangladesh has abundant international Internet bandwidth while Bhutan generates surplus electricity. Newly appointed Bhutan’s Ambassador to Dhaka, Pema Choden, has expressed interest in importing surplus bandwidth from Bangladesh. In that meeting, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam also showed interest in Bhutan’s plentiful electricity to meet the growing energy demand of Bangladesh. Both the neighbors are now poised to be the friend in mutual needs. Bangladesh currently consumes only 40Gbps of its 200Gbps capacity of the SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable.
I was looking for overall indicators for the Bhutan ICT sector a few years back. The only index that included Bhutan then was the ICT Development Index, published by the ITU. So I am happy that WEF has included Bhutan in the NRI for the first time. And they have placed at 94, ahead of all their S Asian peers other than Sri Lanka and India. Pakistan and Bangladesh on the other hand have slid back by 6 and 5 places, respectively.
Bhutan Telecom is launching Long Term Evolution (LTE) service in two locations of its capital city Thimpu. Coverage of this 1800 MHz network will encompass a radius of up to 1km, promising a theoretical downlink speed of up to 40Mbps. Cellular News reports. Meanwhile, the fate of 3G in Bangladesh looks as gloomy as its political future. The regulator could not appoint a consultant for auctioning the 2.
There is so much wrong with the IDI. It gives a higher ICT development rank to Cuba (106) and Zimbabwe (115) well ahead of India (119). I ridiculed the predecessor of the IDI in the past, but they keep churning it out unfazed and people keep paying attention, which then causes me to pay attention too. There was even a fuss in the Bangladesh media about how that esteemed country managed to get itself excluded from IDI coverage in 2012. Few months back I promised to analyze the S Asian IDI rankings in more detail, so here goes.
I have been studying how to make Internet affordable and resilient across the developing Asia. Excessive reliance on submarine cable is the bottleneck. My study shows how to overcome it by deploying fiber across the continent, exploiting the transcontinental highways. But the control-freak governments, attending WCIT 2012 conference at Dubai, have deepened the crises of Internet. James Cowie of Renesys Corporation has categorized the countries being vulnerable to different levels of Internet shutdown risk (Click on the map).
Since our research pointed us to the necessity of lowering international backhaul costs if the dream of taking broadband to all in emerging Asia was to be realized, I’ve been very interested in the ADB’s USD 9 million project to build a backhaul network connecting Nepal, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Here’s what the ADB website says about the project: The Project is aimed at enhancing the benefits of ICT and regional cooperation for inclusive growth and poverty reduction by increasing the supply of affordable broadband, skilled ICT manpower, and local content and e-applications, with a special focus on the needs of the poor. It is also expected to help SASEC countries improve their productivity and efficiency and participate more fully in the global information economy. To this end, the Project will establish (i) a SASEC regional network with fiber-optic and data interchange capacity, directly connecting the four SASEC countries; (ii) a SASEC village network expanding broadband ICT access to 110 rural communities in the SASEC countries and providing direct connections among the communities for local networking and local information sourcing; and (iii) a SASEC research and training network to build technical and business skills in developing local ICT content and […]
The ITU’s ICT Development Index has been released. The performance of most South Asian countries has increased since 2008, but not enough. The rest of Asia shows a marked contrast. Vietnam advanced 10 places in the rankings and Indonesia six. Korea retained its first place.