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.
On May 9th and 10th, LIRNEasia presented a selection of its research on Bhutan and of potential relevance to Bhutan at events organized in Thimphu. The following news report indicates that BICMA the Bhutan regulatory body is acting on one of the findings of the diagnostic tests run on broadband connectivity in Bhutan that showed poor connectivity among Bhutan ISPs. Broadband users can now self-regulate the bandwidth provided by the operators with the help of software which will be made available for free. Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), in a move to facilitate the operators give better services and to emphasis evidence-derived regulations, tied up with LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank. LIRNEasia is based in Sri Lanka but works in all the South Asian countries and some South East Asian countries.
Last week, b-mobile subscribers in Bhutan received a message that cell broadcasting had been enabled on the system. It was the same week LIRNEasia recommended that cell broadcasting was the best option for effecting public warning in the mountainous country that is vulnerable to massive flash floods known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods