Helani Galpaya Archives — Page 4 of 6


For sometime, Helani Galpaya has been communicating the message that affordability is not enough by itself for Internet use by the people of developing Asia. For example, this is what she said at a well-received presentation on SDGs at UN DESA, 8-9 June 2015. She has been saying this in a number of places and as is our custom, the slides have been placed on the web. Her conclusions were based on our research and ITU data and the proposed solutions also drew from several lines of our work. So we were not surprised to see the message being repeated in a blog and as the main headline of the A4AI newsletter.
At the Internet Governance Forum held in Brazil in November 2015, LIRNEasia CEO spoke in multiple panels on the issues related to zero rated content and net neutrality.  She was also interviewed by the Deutsche Welle Academy, the capacity building arm of the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. In the interview, Helani sets the arguments pro and against Zero Rated content. Her interview can be read here.  
In wide ranging article on multiple aspects of Facebook, the author cites Helani Galpaya’s comments on zero rating. For Facebook, releasing something, gauging reaction, and then tweaking as necessary is not only normal but also a badge of honor—after all, one of the company’s guiding principles is “Done is better than perfect.” When I ask Zuckerberg about the controversy, he says, “Internet.org is working. We’ve learned a lot from our efforts already.
Helani Galpaya and Shamistra Soysa participated in the second IGF (2007) held in Rio. But in 2015 our engagement was an order of magnitude higher. Helani participated in two Main Sessions and five workshops. She also spoke at a side event organized by Deutsche Welle for media personnel from Africa. Tuesday, November 10 9:00am-10:30am WS 126 Can Internet rights and access goals be reconciled?
At the 2015 Stockholm Internet Forum that just completed, I moderated one of the best attended unconference sessions titled “Zero rating violates net neutrality. So what?“. The discussion I moderated was heated, with a spectrum of opinions being expressed.  Some said that zero rated content simply creates a ghetto-ized version of the Internet for the poor and therefore should not be allowed.
The raging debate on Zero Rated content is, for the most part, taking place in a vacuum of evidence. A successful campaign by activists  ensured that many of the 1.2 million responses sent to TRAI’s proposed net neutrality regulations in April 2015 called for banning internet.org (Facebook’s Zero Rated offering, now called Free Basics).  The fear that the poor who use the free version of the internet offered by Facebook will not use anything else but Facebook has been one of the harms many advocates put forth.
LIRNEasia CEO participated in two more events at the ITU Telecom World 2015 held in Budapest, Hungary. The ICT Economic and Industry Round Table aimed to look to the future to imagine with digital development would be.  Helani spoke about state investment into the backhaul infrastructure, and about private sector entry into connecting the unconnected through zero rating. The other panel today was titled The Data Rich, Decision Making Poor: How to use Big Data for Improved Government Action.  Helani showcased LIRNEasia’s Big Data research and our research inputs into the the Western Region Megapolis plan in Sri Lanka.
LIRNEasia CEO took part in the Leadership Summit at the ITU Telecom World 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Yesterday she took part in a panel discussion making innovations in ICT work for social impact, and used the results of LIRNEasia’s Systematic Review titled “Mobile-phone interventions for improving economic and productive outcomes for farm and non-farm rural enterprises and households in low and middle-income countries” to make the point about network rollout and good regulation.
Helani Galpaya asks the most basic question in a Council on Foreign Relations blog. She bases her position on evidence from the field: her direct observations in Java that went around the world and the recent Myanmar baseline Teleuse study. In the end, the best defense against the possible downsides of ZR is high levels of competition at all parts of the broadband value chain—content, application, devices, international connectivity—not just in retail mobile connectivity. Given the low capacity of many regulatory institutions in Asia, it probably makes sense for regulators to focus on creating a competitive environment and let the ZR battle play out, while being ready to act if actual harm occurs. If regulators insist on acting to enforce net neutrality policies, they could take other actions, such as making ZR offerings time-limited or mandating the first click outside of the walled garden also be zero-rated.
The first nationally representative survey of ICT use in Myanmar was conducted by LIRNEasia in Feb/March of 2015.  The results were presented to stakeholders at a series of events and meetings held in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw between the 28 – 30 July 2015. Download report here The links provide the updated slide-set, detailed methodology note, questionnaire in English and in Myanmar language.   Media ICT Survey: LIRNEasia nationwide ICT survey results released| Mitv News, Myanmar | July 29th 2015 LA on Democracy Today, Myanmar | August 6th 2015           LA on the Mobile Guide, Myanmar | August 5th                     LA survey data being referenced in an item about hate speech on Facebook | Eleven News, Myanmar |September 13th 2015 The English translation of this item can be found here.  
Helani Galpaya was selected as one of the stakeholders invited to speak at the United Nations General Assembly’s Informal interactive stakeholder consultation held at UN Headquarters in New York on the 2nd of July. The selection itself was done by a committee that reviewed applications by over a 100 organizations to speak at this event.  Helani’s opening comments that were read out can be found here.
  CEO Helani Galpaya was invited as an expert participant at the UN-DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and ITU (International Telecommunications Union) organised Expert Group Meeting held at UN headquarters in New York, June 8 – 9th. Helani was invited to talk about issues of access and affordability, and how they contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). LIRNEasia and RIA household survey data, LIRNEasia’s broadband quality of service test data, big data research was used in the presentations and interventions during the two day meeting. Slides here.  Numerous UN Agencies, members of Permanent Missions to the UN from various countries (e.
Low connectivity and low regulatory capacity are characteristics of most emerging Asian countries.  Any NN regulation needs to take these realities into account.  So when we looked at the possible ways TRAI can and should act, we ended somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Read our response here.
We no longer do quantitative and qualitative research on the demand-side of Internet use (except in Myanmar) but it is indeed gratifying to find work that we did in 2012 being described and even replicated at some cost in 2015. In an attempt to replicate Stork and Galpaya’s observations, Quartz commissioned surveys in Indonesia and Nigeria from Geopoll, a company that contacts respondents across the world using mobile phones. We asked people whether they had used the internet in the prior 30 days. We also asked them if they had used Facebook. Both surveys had 500 respondents each.
Today, our CEO Helani Galpaya was on a panel “Harnessing the power of convergence and big data for enterprise success” at a Sri Lankan summit called “Enterprise 2.0: building future ready enterprises” (full video of the panel session is available HERE). I thought some of the ideas she proposed about were worthy of further discussion.  LIRNEasia is curently working on utilizing telecom network Transaction Generated Information (TGI) to conduct public interest research using big data. One of her comments was about how companies are not fully appreciating the value of the data that they have.
The results of the newest TRE survey conducted by LIRNEasia are out. We started the survey since before the start of LIRNEasia and have improved it since. The results were released in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at a well attended media event on 12 May 2011. The centerpiece was the sector performance report on Bangladesh by Faheem Hussain, Ph.D.