Presented by Helani Galpaya and Tharaka Amarasinghe on 7 November 2018 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Presented by Helani Galpaya, Ayesha Zainudeen and Tharaka Amarasinghe on 5 November 2018 in Colombo, Sri Lanka
LIRNEasia. (2018). AfterAccess: ICT access and use in Asia and the Global South (Version 1). Colombo: LIRNEasia
AfterAccess: ICT access and use in India and the Global South. Helani Galpaya (@helanigalpaya) and TharakaAmarasinghe, 7 August 2018, New Delhi
We’ve been saying that most people will reach the Internet through mobile platforms for some time. And for some time, our colleagues have been looking at us as though we have sunstroke. But we like to break new ground and know that skeptical looks are part of the package. Now we have a powerful ally: the New York Times. With the majority of Internet traffic expected to shift to congestion-prone mobile networks, there is growing debate on both sides of the Atlantic about whether operators of the networks should be allowed to treat Web users differently, based on the users’ consumption.
We have been following the emotionally loaded net neutrality debate for some time with some detachment. Our research clearly shows that low prices are critical if the BOP is to join the Internet economy and that low prices are not sustainable without the adaptation of the budget telecom network model to broadband supply. One of the most controversial of the recommendations that came out of this work is that which said one should go gentle on regulating quality. The main reason we said that was because we believed that the poor needed access in the form of different price-quality bundles; that if high quality standards were imposed by fiat, the only victims would be the price-sensitive consumers who would get priced out. While we did not take an explicit position on net neutrality those days, we now have to, based on what we have learned.
The US universal service fund is among the oldest and most inefficient, spending more on administration than comparators and not targeting the subsidies well. Our research has been cited in debates about improving it. The FCC under the Obama appointed Chair does not appear to be engaging in fundamental reforms, but is instead seeking to use the Fund as the main vehicle for executing its broadband plans. Instead of repurposing the existing funds, it is raising additional money by taxing customers of the telcos. Chief among its goals, the F.
Unsatisfied broadband users added flavor to both our Public Seminar and Mobile Broadband QoSE workshop. That included university students prevented access during the residential peak to Wi-Max subscribers experiencing 20% of the promised speed – even with perfect LoS (Line of Sight). Such complaints are common and not limited to Sri Lanka. From Indonesia to India and from Bangladesh to Philippines we find broadband users rant not receiving the promised. We empathise with them, but this hardly an Asian or a developing world issue.
Old habits die hard. When you have been a member of a tiny Trotskyite left political party for the longer period of your life and seen the World Bank as your arch enemy, you may forget that you are on the same side now. This seems to be what happens to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Tissa Vitharana, once in a while. His latest holler, as reported by ‘The Catalyst’ – the newsletter of the Information and Communication Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the apex body of ICTs that spearhead the e-Sri Lanka program, funded by the World Bank, goes as follows: “At a time when the ‘world funding bodies’ proposed the setting of Internet cafes in cities of Sri Lanka in a manner that would only cater only to the rich elite, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided that Nenasalas or wisdom outlets should be setup instead island-wide to cater to the poor rural folk.
Indonesia will implement Wimax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) broadband technology next year to improve access to the Internet across the country, an official said Sunday. Engkos Koswara, an expert adviser to the state minister for research and technology, told Antara news agency the government was still testing the 2.3 GHz frequency for the Wimax technology. “We hope that by next year, Wimax technology will be implemented,” he said in Medan, North Sumatra, adding the government would encourage the use of domestic products to support the technology. Indonesia ranks very low in the region in the use of broadband for Internet access.
An Egyptian company said it will launch 3G mobile telephone service in North Korea on Monday, after winning the contract to build the advanced network in a country where private cell phones are banned. Under the terms of the deal reached in January, Orascom Telecom will invest $400 million in network infrastructure and license fees over the first three years to develop the network. Orascom said it was the first foreign telecommunications company to be awarded a North Korean commercial telecommunications license. It was not clear what restrictions, if any, would be imposed on the network, which provides data capabilities as well as phone services. Ordinary North Koreans are forbidden from having cellular phones, and the government maintains strict controls over Internet access.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is proposing giving innovators free unlicensed access to valuable airwaves if the company that buys a license to the channels doesn’t meet tough requirements to build a nationwide Internet network. The proposal has been added to a pending auction of the airwaves. The FCC is scheduled to vote on rules for the sale on Dec. 18. Mr.
The debate over Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auctions and internet telephony comes at a time when international organizations and analysts are painting a starkly contrasting picture of the Indian telecom and IT sectors. Recent International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data reveals that the success of India’s telecom revolution is restricted to mobile voice with very little to showcase in fixed line and internet access, or high-speed broadband. For a country that is the global IT and ITeS capital or the world’s back office, its own internet penetration remains one of the lowest in the world. Forecasts are equally uninspiring, projecting high-speed internet access to remain abysmal till 2012. Internet broadband penetration will limp along to eventually reach a measly 3.
In one of the two websites it runs, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) gives its mission statement – which is cut and pasted below: “To create the optimum conditions for the telecommunications industry in Sri Lanka by serving the public interest in terms of quality, choice and value for money; the service providers with equitable access to spectrum and other common resources; and the nation in its drive for socio-economic advancement through a skilled and ethical workforce.” We are surprised to see pornography not mentioned – considering the latest task TRCSL has been assigned – blocking porno. Lankadeepa reports only about blocking pornographic movies and video clips, not images. Assumed strict enforcement, this can lead to the ban of not just YouTube but Gmail and Yahoomail also, because pornography videos can easily be distributed via e-mail. For the record, except for few countries including Cuba and North Korea, which had restricted Internet access in full (not just porno sites) no country in general blocks porno sites.
Technology is full of paradoxes. While Moore’s Law ensures that our computers get cheaper and faster every few months, there is no corresponding law that ensures that the same happens with our internet connections. TRAI data shows that some 60 million people in India have access to the internet. This may seem like a substantive figure, but is only 6 per cent of the population. More shocking is that while India has over 46 million wireless internet subscribers, broadband subscribers number a mere 2.
An OECD report, Global Opportunities for Internet Access Developments, says that the next billion Internet users will be very different from the first billion and governments in developing countries, where these users will come from, must adapt strategic regulatory and investment policies to lower access costs. “The characteristics of these new Internet users will be vastly different from the first billion users,” the report concludes, adding that the majority of the new Internet users will be accessing the Internet on wireless networks and will have incomes of less than US$2 per day. While the report sees encouraging signs from developing markets that have adopted market liberalisation and who are now starting to enjoy the employment, micro- entrepreneurial and social development benefits of increased competition, there remain many countries that need to catch up. According to the report, “more than 70 countries still have monopolies over international gateway services,” which “raise the prices for accessing international capacity, far beyond costs, and reduce the affordability of Internet access for end-users.” Read more.