Nepal Archives — Page 4 of 6


The ITU’s ICT Development Index has been released. The performance of most South Asian countries has increased since 2008, but not enough. The rest of Asia shows a marked contrast. Vietnam advanced 10 places in the rankings and Indonesia six. Korea retained its first place.
The ICT Development Index (IDI) rankings by the ITU are out. Vietnam, a high performer on all composite ICT rankings, has leaped forward from 91st place to 81st place, in a rare 10-place advance. In South Asia, Bhutan advanced four places to 119th; Nepal by three places to 134th; and India and Sri Lanka advance by one place to 116th and 105th respectively. Pakistan and Bangladesh drop two places each to 123rd and 137th, respectively. Maldives, the leader among the South Asian countries, drops one place to settle at 67th place.

Data centers grow, but efficiently

Posted on August 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

Data centers are what cloud computing will run on. They are what we hope will be located on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, making use of the cheap hydro that is plentifully available, political circumstances permitting. But of course, less electricity use is better. Fueled by an insatiable demand for new Internet services and a shift to so-called cloud computing services that are largely hosted in commercial data centers and in the large data farms operated by companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, there has been an increasing discussion about the growing percentage of the nation’s electricity that will be consumed by vast data centers being constructed at a record pace. But the new report indicates that electricity used by global data centers in 2010 remained relatively modest.
The World Economic Forum has issued its Global Information Technology Report which includes the NRI rankings. I find the sub indices always more instructive but for now, only the top line aggregate rankings are discussed. The big winner, among the countries LIRNEasia works in and the WEF covers, is Indonesia, advancing from 67th place in 2009-10 to 53rd place in 2010-11, a massive jump of 14 places. Sri Lanka has advanced six places from 72nd to 66th. Bangladesh advances three places to 115th, from 118th.
We are not the greatest fans of the Network Readiness Index, but we do believe it matters. Many of these composite indices are built upon questionable data such as the problematic “Internet users/100” indicator. No time at this moment to probe the details, but here are some key takeaways: The study showed the rapid progress of the so-called Asian Tigers, whose governments have invested heavily in technology. Besides Singapore, Taiwan was ranked 6th, South Korea 10th and Hong Kong 12th. Japan was 19th.

Can Qaddafi buck Gyanendra’s law?

Posted on February 19, 2011  /  2 Comments

Countries that have a level of international connectivity above that of Burma and North Korea have so far been subject to Gyanendra’s Law. You pull the kill switch. You look for a new job. Now Muammar Qaddafi has decided to the test the law. Libya’s main Internet service provider, General Post and Telecommunications Company, began to cut Internet access on Friday, said Earl Zmijewski, general manager with Internet monitoring company Renesys.

Gyanendra’s Law affirmed

Posted on February 11, 2011  /  3 Comments

Gyanendra’s Law states that a government that shuts down its entire national telecom network does not survive. The resignation of Hosni Mubarak affirms the law. Named for the last King of Nepal. Could have been called Jaruselzki’s Law, but Nepal could do with some visibility one thinks. And it is a toss-up which tyrant’s name is harder to pronounce.

Role of ICTs in revolution

Posted on February 5, 2011  /  2 Comments

Telephone networks were shut down when Lech Walesa was leading the workers of Gdansk against the Polish government in the early 1980s. King Gyanendra shut down the mobile networks of Nepal a few years back. It is not the first time that telecom networks have been shut down by governments with their backs to the wall. Reflections on the Egyptian shut down should be read in this historical context. The key difference is that Egypt was perhaps at a qualitatively higher level of ICT use when they hit the kill switch.
Observed few things fresh on my day at the Abhayagiri monastery complex. One was a rock inscription in ancient devanagari. It was not about a donation made by a king or a minister, as usual, or even a notification of a new regulation. The Sanskrit stanza was meant for Buddhist monks. Not a rule; but more a guide.

Telecom access rankings in South Asia

Posted on October 24, 2009  /  18 Comments

According to the ITU ICTeye, which is now carrying 2008 data, Pakistan’s surge to overtake Sri Lanka has petered out, leaving the Maldives (143 active SIMs/100 people) as the undisputed leader in mobile connectivity (apparently all adult Maldivians carry two active SIMs; there are only two operators in the Maldives), and Sri Lanka second with 52 SIMs per 100 people. On the fixed side, assisted by CDMA phones that are counted as fixed, Sri Lanka is the leader (17 connection per 100 people), followed by Maldives (15 per 100). Like in cricket, the middle of the rankings are the most interesting. Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. This shows that India cannot afford to let up the pace of 10 million connections a month for some time.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (covering 134 countries in 2008-09), only Sri Lanka has gained any ground among the South Asian countries. India is the first within the region, ranked 54th (down from 50th in 2007-08). Sri Lanka has made considerable progress from 79th place in 2007-08 to 70th place in a straight comparison (72nd among the 2008-09 countries). Congratulations to the industry, ICTA and all who contributed to this gain. Pakistan has slipped to 95th in a straight comparison from its 89th position in 2007-08.
One of the more exciting things we have been talking about in the last little while is the budget telecom network business model being implemented in South Asia. We have seen it spread to Nepal, but the big question was when and how it would get to Africa. If Bharti and MTN merge, we can be sure the model will spread. An update.
The World Bank has committed USD 2.6 million (or USD 10 per intended beneficiary) in grant funds for rural public access telephones in Cambodia according to a recent news release. The amount is not too steep and the local official in charge is Deputy Minister Chin Bunsean, an alumnus of LIRNEasia’s regulatory training course in 2005 (Mr Chin is dead center of the picture on the course page), which among other things discussed the lessons that should be drawn from the Nepal output-based aid project, so I guess we can surmise that the lessons have indeed been learned. But it still makes us wonder why the World Bank is funding rural payphones, when the evidence is abundant that cheap mobiles are what will connect poor people, not payphones? Poor families in four of the poorer provinces of northern and northwestern Cambodia – Banteay Meanchey, Otdar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, and Pursat – will benefit from a US$2.
At the “multi-year expert meeting” on services, development and trade: the regulatory and institutional dimension, organized by UNCTAD in Geneva, there was rich discussion on the increasing importance of regulation in an environment in which services trade is assuming greater importance. As attention shifts to services trade (for example, the most important element of the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, is the services chapter), there is of necessity a need to start looking at regulatory restrictions on services trade. Tariffs do not apply to services, so the only barriers are opaque, arbitrary and discriminatory regulatory provisions. This has been well recognized in telecom, with the reference paper on regulation being one of the key contributions to liberalization made by the GATS. The issue being raised at the UNCTAD meeting was whether there was value in exploring the regulatory aspects of trade in other infrastructure services.
LIRNEasia’s price-benchmarking research shows that Pakistan has overtaken Bangladesh as the country with the cheapest monthly prepaid costs in the SAARC region, when compared to September 2008. Pakistan recorded a monthly cost of USD 1.75 for a low user, followed by Bangladesh (USD 1.96) and India (USD 2.10).
Given coincidence of the SAARC Minister’s meeting and the release of LIRNEasia’s twice-a-year price benchmarks, I was tempted to see how much progress had been achieved, with regard to the Colombo Declaration’s para 6 which called for low intra-SAARC international voice tariffs. Not much progress to report, unfortunately. On the fixed side, the only countries with intra-SAARC tariffs lower than to non-SAARC countries, are Bhutan and Nepal. Bhutan, because it has a special price for India (other SAARC prices are high) and Nepal because it has not changed its extremely high tariff structure (and the lower-by-comparison intra-SAARC prices). Lanka Bell in Sri Lanka offers low prices to India, but our methodology does not capture that, because we take the prices of the largest operator, SLT.