Internet Archives — Page 3 of 15 — LIRNEasia


In most of the countries we work in, most people connect to the Internet over mobile devices and/or mobile networks. But as WiFi hotspots of various kinds become more common, it appears that WiFi is becoming the dominant mode. The Global State of Mobile Networks study, based on 12.3 billion measurements taken by 822,556 OpenSignal users in an 84 day period, found that smartphone users spent more than 50 per cent of their time connected to Wi-Fi, with Netherlands the most mobile Wi-Fi hungry country, where it accounted for 70 per cent of all smartphone connections. “You could argue that in many places Wi-Fi has become a far more important mobile data technology than 3G or 4G,” noted the report.

Regulating through design

Posted on June 10, 2016  /  0 Comments

It was in the 1990s that Larry Lessig put into beautiful form an idea that was bubbling up all over the place among people thinking about emerging technology. This was the idea of West Coast Code versus East Coast Code. Both regulated what could and could not be done on various tech-mediated spaces. But East Coast Code sought to do so through law, courts, regulatory agencies and the old paraphernalia of the regulatory state. There are obvious problems in this approach.
A recent report by TIE, summarized in Mint, echoes many of the conclusions we reached about the challenges of increasing Internet connectivity in India, with emphasis on the bottom of the pyramid. It is important that Bharat Broadband Network stays at the backhaul level and does not seek to directly provide access services to end users. This is not only to safeguard the principle that all access providers should have non-discriminatory, cost-oriented access to the backhaul but also to ensure that the NOFN rollout does not slow down any further. It is silly to ask a bunch of bureaucrats to market Internet access. Private operators are not interested in providing access at the ends of the NOFN wire for various reasons.
Helani Galpaya presented the findings of the joint research by GSMA Connected Women & LIRNEasia on “Mobile phones, internet & gender in Myanmar” at the Chatrium Hotel, Yangon on 8 April 2016. The event organized by LIRNEasia and MIDO was used as a forum to discuss issues pertaining to gender and ICTs in Myanmar at large. Khin Sandar Win & Htla San Htwe presented the rationale behind and the workings of the UNDP iWomen application while Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO spoke of the role of women as app developers, hackers and coders. The event was well attended despite it being held on the last working day prior to the New Year Water Festival holidays. Noteworthy was the large media presence, with the event being covered by multiple print, television and online media outlets.
Twenty years ago, when NAFTA was still a novelty, Patrick Hadley and I looked at the interface of trade and communication policy. I recalled this when I was asked a question during a TV talk show about safeguards for culture in trade agreements. Looks like the issues we wrote about are becoming mainstream: China’s notorious online controls have long been criticized as censorship by human rights groups, businesses, Chinese Internet users and others. Now they have earned a new label from the American government: trade barrier. United States trade officials have for the first time added China’s system of Internet filters and blocks — broadly known as the Great Firewall — to an annual list of trade impediments.
It was in 2009 that LIRNEasia first engaged systematically with the interaction of taxation and ICT promotional policies. This was when working on an assignment for the OECD. We had of course engaged with mobile-only taxation in Sri Lanka and in Bangladesh. But the issues were simple back then. No discriminatory taxes that treated mobile services as demerit goods.

Telenor Myanmar claims 52% data users

Posted on February 14, 2016  /  0 Comments

More evidence of Myanmar leap-frogging, thanks to entering the game at a later time. The Norwegian telecoms operator’s fourth-quarter results show a net subscriber growth of 1.9 million over the past three months. This equates to a SIM market share of around 37 percent, the company said. International competitor Ooredoo has yet to announce its Q4 results, but counted 4.
This may be realistic, but somehow disappointing. Google India boss Rajan Anandan thinks 50 percent of Internet use in the future will not be interactive. I wonder what the people who campaigned against Free Basics and access to the “full” Internet think of this. While some people make the case that cost of data in India is among the lowest in the world, Anandan pointed out that you had to look at it in terms of the overall income. In the US, the cost of data is 0.

Internet in the Constitution?

Posted on February 9, 2016  /  4 Comments

Consultations are underway for devising a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. One of the contributions to the discussion, published under the heading of “A new Constitution: What’s in it for young people?” had this section: According to the latest statistics there are over 2.8 million internet users in Sri Lanka. The Internet should not belong to only 2.
This report is the result of research conducted by GSMA’s Connected Women programme and LIRNEasia in Myanmar in 2015. LIRNEasia’s nationally representative baseline survey of ICT needs and usage in Myanmar showed a gender gap  in mobile ownership of 29%  by March 2015.  Together with GSM Association’s Connected Women program, LIRNEasia explored the reasons behind this gender gap through a series of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions held in Yangon (urban) and Pantanaw (rural) among 91 men and women in July 2015. Further questions on mobile internet awareness and use, as well as barriers to use were explored, yielding a rich set of findings and a large set of policy recommendations. Read full report: Mobile phones, internet, and gender in Myanmar
Much of these findings I had heard from our researchers who did field work in Myanmar. But we did not make the Atlantic. All over the world, Internet cognoscenti are bemoaning the fact that not everyone uses the Internet like them, in many cases citing our research as reported by Quartz. But here is an interesting thought for them to ponder: But Facebook has a compelling advantage over other news apps or even Twitter: The content of many posts and news items live inside Facebook itself. There are external links, but most of the article summaries and photos are self contained.
We at LIRNEasia have always emphasized the significance of the physical infrastructure that makes the Internet possible. That is possibly because we work in parts of the world where the infrastructure is still being built up. Our long engagement with ESCAP on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS) is testimony to this. It is in this context that this piece about the data centers that support much of the “cloud” caught my attention. This led to an outcropping of office parks that housed not only defense contractors, but also government IT and time-sharing services and, later, companies like MCI, AOL, and UUNet.
It appears that high data use by Myanmar consumers is the surprise of 2015. But Telenor expects it to go down as they start connecting rural consumers. Will they be wrong again? Telenor’s network today covers all states and regions but Chin State, for 60 per cent of population. The customer base is expected show a slower growth rate.
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.
Pakistan has officially allowed private carriers to terrestrially plug the country with all the four neighbors including India. This multidimensional landmark decision makes Pakistan the buckle of South Asia-Central Asia telecoms belt. This route is embedded in our proposed trans-Asian connectivity for affordable broadband. It took us three years to convince ESCAP, which dubs our concept “Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.” Pakistan currently exports internet bandwidth to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
In 2012, I wrote in a Myanmar newspaper that according to the latest ITU data, Myanmar had less mobile SIMs in service for 100 people than every other country except St Helena, which had no mobile service at all. There was nothing to say about Internet. Three years later, Myanmar has leaped ahead of both Pakistan and Bangladesh in the ICT Development Index (IDI), driven principally by a 15-place advance in the Use Sub-index. It is now ranked 142nd among the countries that are included by the ITU in the Index. The massive increase in the number of mobile SIMs per 100 people increasing from one in 2010 to 49.