Broadband Archives — Page 5 of 26


We rely on Kingdon’s concept of policy windows a lot. To effectively take research to policy, the necessary condition is a policy window: some kind of opening created in the “minds” of the relevant decision makers. It does not require much knowledge to postulate that current Indian election that will yield a new Prime Minister and Cabinet, whatever be the outcome, is such a window. But there is more. All the parties are promising improved governance and delivery of government services using ICTs, as the attached slideset shows.
I have never been a great fan of NRI type indices where the components are somewhat opaque and some are subjective. Instead of going into the details of the method and weaknesses of components such as the mythical (for the most part) numbers of Internet users, I thought I’d check in against four countries that have launched major initiatives on broadband promotion using government subsidies: Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia’s plan is the winner in terms of public money committed and Malaysia is the winner in terms of households already connected. Case studies conducted with Ford Foundation support should be on the web shortly. Australia is holding steady at 18th place.
How fast is fast enough? But DSL service, which is delivered over traditional copper phone lines, does not measure up to the speeds of cable Internet service. The most recent F.C.C.
Following on from the previous post re Bangladesh making do with an obsolete national telecom policy from 1998, I’ve been asked why we need policies, when in my time in government in Sri Lanka first as a regulator and then handling policy, I had not done much about Sri Lanka’s own obsolete policy (a couple of sheets of paper from 1994). A national policy provides a framework for decision making. A national telecommunications policy lays down basic principles to guide decisions of all relevant government agencies (not limited to the Ministry in charge of the subject) and other stakeholders, including service providers, investors, and even consumer organizations, which makes stakeholder input vital for its formulation. Not just the end result, but the process is also important. One needs stakeholder input; one also needs stakeholders to own the policy.
We don’t go as far as Cisco which claims that countries can increase penetration simply by promulgating policies or plans, but there is real value in having updated policies in place so that all the players are reading off a common script. Bangladesh is struggling with getting itself a new policy: Abu Saeed Khan, a senior policy fellow of LIRNEasia which is a Colombo-based ICT policy and regulation think tank, said the current policy describes mobile phone services as ‘value added services’, which indicates how outdated the policy is. The policy was made by the then Awami League government, which is now in power again with the vision of establishing a ‘Digital Bangladesh’, he said. The policy has to reflect how the government would achieve its vision, he added. Khan said the revised telecom policy should provide a roadmap to take broadband penetration to respectable levels.

Cables connecting Pacific islands

Posted on April 2, 2014  /  0 Comments

How quickly things change. Few years back I was discussing slow connections from Vanuatu with the then regulator, Alan Horne. Now a few days prior to my first visit to Vanuatu, I find that the country is enjoying the benefits of fast Internet connectivity. I am making this post sitting in Fiji, one of the best connected Pacific islands. Whether the claims of fastest Internet speeds in the Pacific have any substance, we will see next week.
In 2010, the Obama Administration announced a road map to release 500 MHz of frequencies for mobile broadband. Looks like progress is being made. Perhaps the most significant move by the commission was to allow a broad swath of airwaves to be used for outdoor unlicensed broadband, clearing the way for a new generation of Wi-Fi networks and other uses of freely available airwaves. Unlike the airwaves used for mobile phone traffic, which are licensed to a specific company, unlicensed spectrum can be used by anyone. Previous establishments of unlicensed airwaves led to innovations like garage-door openers, baby monitors, wireless microphones and Wi-Fi networks.
The Mobile Data Surge in Hong Kong: Technical and Regulatory Approaches Shazna Zuhyle March 2014 Executive Summary Hong Kong has one of the most sophisticated telecommunication sectors in the world. It offers some of the highest broadband speeds regionally and globally and has the highest number of SIMs per hundred. Since the launch of the iPhone in Hong Kong the use of mobile data has risen exponentially. Given its advanced networks, technologies and unique regulatory regime, it provides examples of good practices for other economies yet to face the mobile data upsurge. Its size and population are by no means an indication of the number of services providers.
 Q1 2014 30, MARCH 2014 
Last weekend, talking about policy and regulatory issues will drive Pakistan’s adoption of broadband.  My co-panellists were Faisal Sattar (CEO of Pakistan’s Universal Service Fund), Salman Ansari (former advisor to the Ministry of IT & Telecom in Pakistan) and Kojo Boakye (Policy Manager at the Web Foundation). I was at Pakistan ICTD Workshop organized by newly set up Information Technology University  in Lahore and the Punjab Information Technology Board.  The fact that both organizations are headed by one individual (Umar Saif, PhD and the fact that the Punjab Chief Minister (Shahbaz Shariff, brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff) has taken a personal interest in using ICT-enabled governance has led to some interesting results.  The students and faculty at IT-University are in the wonderful position of having a willing and eager client (in the form of Punjab IT Board) who roll-out and scales up the applications they developed.

Korea no model to emulate

Posted on February 11, 2014  /  0 Comments

We’ve been talking up the need to look beyond Korea as THE model to emulate because their vaunted successes have been achieved with massive long-term subsidies that are difficult for most countries to replicate. But here are some other less known features of the Korean Internet environment that one would not want to emulate: Every week portions of the Korean web are taken down by government censors. Last year about 23,000 Korean webpages were deleted, and another 63,000 blocked, at the request of the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), a nominally independent (but mainly government-appointed) public body. In 2009 the KCSC had made just 4,500 requests for deletion. Its filtering chiefly targets pornography, prostitution and gambling, all of which are illegal in South Korea.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has started its approval process on a new broadband standard that could potentially achieve 1 Gbps speeds (within 250m) on the existing copper access networks (press release). This is particularly good news for developing economies that already have / have started laying FTTC (fiber to the cabinet) / FTTdp (fiber to the distribution point). Market players and regulators should not intend to differ plans of FTTH (fiber to the home) implementations, certainly on new builds; however, it will now be possible for the majority to still enjoy much faster speeds at (hopefully) the same cost. It will also benefit the operators in developed economies who have been battling with the costs associated with fiber deployments to scarcely populated areas. This piece by Huawei  provides some interesting technical detail.
Government agencies are slow with procurement. This is common knowledge. Despite this common knowledge, the Telecom Minister and Mr Sam Pitroda decided to implement the NOFN using government entities only. It is also common practice for government entities to engage in the blame game, diverting precious effort from fixing the problems. All these not-unexpected things are happening right now.
Given the slow start and the pushing back of deadlines for the NOFN, one would have thought the BJP would bash the UPA on wasting public funds on fiber. But no, they want to do more. I guess Modi will claim he can get it done, without having to distinguish Congress and BJP policies. Read the article. The feel is that Modi and Reliance Jio are on the same wavelength.
The deployment of 4G wireless as a complement to ADSL last mile by Sri Lanka Telecom suggests that the convergence process that was marked by having a single CEO for the fixed and mobile arms may be reaching its logical conclusion. Sri Lanka Telecom said it had expanded broadband service coverage by deploying fourth generation wireless technology to areas that are not served by its wired network. From January data volumes on all broadband packages had been increased. SLT provides broadband services through ADSL (assymetrical-digital-subscriber-lines), fibre to home and now through 4G LTE (fourth generation long term evolution) wireless technology. At Ruwanwella, in Sri Lanka’s Kegalle district the firm said it had given a gratis broadband connections to the public library and school which had demonstrated downlink speeds of 50 Megabits per second.
Myanmar is a bit of a ways from the Pacific, but I am pleased PTC picked Myanmar for its comprehensive broadband study. The online document with multiple sections is now up, including a little contribution from LIRNEasia. A flood of current reports detail the opportunities for growth in telecom and other industries; while acknowledging the obvious potential, this study takes a critical approach by detailing the magnitude of the challenges that will be faced in order to provide a realistic view of how companies, policy-makers and non-governmental organizations can best proceed and collaborate. Many current studies of Myanmar’s telecom landscape focus on the great potential for comprehensive transformation, while sometimes downplaying challenges that may not be insurmountable, yet need to be fully understood so that they can be met with effective remedies and tools to support new dynamics. Among the oft-noted, thorny and complex challenges include: ongoing ethnic violence, poverty, human and institutional capacity, and broad infrastructure needs.