Internet Archives — Page 11 of 15 — LIRNEasia

I’ve been becoming increasingly concerned about the need to improve the international backhaul segment of Internet connectivity. There is plenty of good news like the cables landing along the east coast of Africa. But now there is bad news too. The European telcos have ganged up with ITU, trying to reimpose the discredited settlements regime on the Internet. So it looks like we’ll have to shift the focus from promoting good things to preventing bad things I was asked to talk about high-priority areas for ICT policy research at the recently concluded CPRafrica 2012/CPRsouth7 conference in Mauritius.
Research on explosive developments in the ICT field in recent times shows that the ITU was a marginal actor. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to support the market liberalization processes that yielded innovation and growth. Even in the area of standardization, they could not lead from the front. Entities such as the IEEE were responsible for most of the critical innovations. Now it appears that the ITU Secretary General, in alliance with Vladimir Putin, is trying to take over the Internet: The problem, Gross said, is that participation will be limited to representatives of national governments, not telecoms players, and a number of proposals have been put forth that will put the internet under much more restrictive regulation than it is now.
More than 40,000 ultra-orthodox Jewish males had attended a rally to discuss the evils of the Internet while the women (who are segregated) watched from homes, according to the NYT. What I find interesting is the use of ICTs to discuss the evils of ICTs. The Amish who keep the telephones in a separate shack outside their homes, seem less hypocritical. The rally in Citi Field on Sunday was sponsored by a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, that is linked to a software company that sells Internet filtering software to Orthodox Jews. Those in attendance were handed fliers that advertised services like a “kosher GPS App” for iPhone and Android phones, which helps users locate synagogues and kosher restaurants.
Our sister organization RIA has been pushing hard for lower termination rates in South Africa. Now in the context of a retail price war, a small operator has joined the call. This nicely refutes the claim that mobile termination rates have nothing to do with retail prices. In a move that will no doubt irk MTN and Vodacom, Knott-Craig says he wants the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to drop the rates even further beyond the 40c/minute they will reach in March 2013. “To Icasa, I say: ‘Drop mobile termination rates even further, provide Cell C with asymmetrical rates to help us achieve the scalability we need to compete even more fiercely with the large incumbents, and we will surprise you and them with our response.
Few months back, our COO Helani Galpaya was out in the field in Indonesia, doing qualitative interviews with BOP teleusers. She picked up an odd response pattern: negative answers to questions about Internet use that would lead us to conclude the respondent was not an Internet user but claims that they were using Facebook on the mobile. So it seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook. This is the gist of the argument in Wired: Today, after just eight years in existence, Facebook now has more than 750 million users all by itself. At that astonishing rate of growth, the company is on track to accomplish much more than just a multibillion-dollar IPO.

ICTs and loneliness

Posted on May 8, 2012  /  0 Comments

Claude S. Fischer wrote one of the most important books on teleuse, America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940, University of California Press. (1992). I’ve owned the book for years; recommended it to many. He knows what he’s talking about.
First, a new medium becomes an extension of the old ways. Politician’s speeches on websites. Then gradually, new ways emerge. Internet is used for politics in ways hitherto impossible. NYT reports an interesting new way of doing politics.
According to this overview, m-money is the future. The survey, released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project along with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, asked just over 1,000 technologists and social scientists to opine on the future of the wallet in 2020. Nearly two-thirds agreed that “cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared” and been replaced with “smart” devices able to carry out a transaction. But a third of the survey respondents countered that consumers would fear for the security of financial transactions over a mobile device and worry about surrendering so much data about their purchasing habits. Sometimes, those with fewer options are the ones to embrace change the fastest.
Interesting piece on value added services in Bangladesh in Daily Star: VAS helps operators go beyond typical voice services to earn more revenue. According to Grameenphone’s annual report, 6 percent of the company’s total revenue comes from the internet service. In Bangladesh, value-added services were basically introduced by the short message service (SMS). But nowadays, VAS has spread and people can even get emergency help from the telecom operators. One can talk to doctors for help or to agriculturalists for advice on farming.
A review of a book on the achievements of Bell Labs, the entity that made most of inventions that we now take for granted: Indeed, Bell Labs was behind many of the innovations that have come to define modern life, including the transistor (the building block of all digital products), the laser, the silicon solar cell and the computer operating system called Unix (which would serve as the basis for a host of other computer languages). Bell Labs developed the first communications satellites, the first cellular telephone systems and the first fiber-optic cable systems.
This was not a fight we were involved in, but were following with peripheral vision. For those who were in the thick of it, it must be a good day. For us too, because an open Internet benefits everyone. “Let us be clear,” the White House statement said, “online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.” However, it added, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
Helani Galpaya’s work and LIRNEasia’s research has been drawn upon for a newspaper column. The novel element we had never thought of is using Facebook as a data source: One other metric is available to anyone, just go to and create an ad. It will tell you how many people your ad can reach. For people of all ages, that number is 1,126,020.
We said this would happen. With smartphones, which seem to be surgically attached to the hand of every teenager and many an adult, tablets have opened up a new dimension to mobile computing that is seducing consumers. Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, believes that in 2011 combined shipments of smartphones and tablets will overtake those of personal computers (PCs). The revolution is mobile This marks a turning-point in the world of personal technology. For around 30 years PCs in various forms have been people’s main computing devices.

How many users per smartphone?

Posted on September 9, 2011  /  0 Comments

Our good friend Nalaka Gunawardene has blogged about the difficulties of figuring out how many people are actually using the Internet in Sri Lanka. He shares our frustration with the archaic data reporting by the TRCSL. This produced a total of 2,184,018 — which takes the percentage of population to almost 11%. And if we apply the same average number of 3 users, it could give us 30% of population accessing and using the Internet. But is that assumption of 3 users per subscription equally applicable to mobile devices?
We have worse postal services in our region. They do not have hard budget constraints, so they keep going. But the future looks bleak for those that do have hard budget constraints: Mail volume has plummeted with the rise of e-mail, electronic bill-paying and a Web that makes everything from fashion catalogs to news instantly available. The system will handle an estimated 167 billion pieces of mail this fiscal year, down 22 percent from five years ago. It’s difficult to imagine that trend reversing, and pessimistic projections suggest that volume could plunge to 118 billion pieces by 2020.
The retirement of Steve Jobs from active management at Apple has been commented on by many. Paul Saffo’s comment about the reconceptualization of the Internet experience resonates with much that LIRNEasia has been talking about. The other point about not anchoring innovation on how consumers actually live their lives is more problematic. As the NYT says: Mr. Jobs did not so much see around corners; he saw things in plain sight that others did not.