We’ve had too many. The tsunami, the LTTE, Nandikadal. And now Koslanda. After the tsunami we asked what could be done to avoid a repeat. We found answers. Ten years later we can be confident that it will not be that bad, the next time. But landslides are very different from tsunamis and cyclones. Back in 1986, in my first ...

LIRNEasia seeks to foster evidence-based reform. The evidence, in the countries we work in, points to most of the needed actions having to do with reforming the state, by getting it to pull back from its current role of stifling decentralized innovation. This has caused many on the unthinking “left” plying their trade in the non-profit sector to look at ...

A report from the Innovation and Information Technology Foundation has been used as the basis for a good report in the Daily Star on the situation in the worst offender, Bangladesh. Of course, it did not hurt that they sought our comments. Our comments were based on the findings of the Systematic Review we completed on the benefits of mobile ...

The development of knowledge workers is obviously important for the emergence of inclusive knowledge economies. We have been working on this, but it has not been front and center of our public communication. This will change in the next little while. The 2015 Budget Speech of the Government of Sri Lanka placed its central emphasis on the development of human ...

Over-the-top players like WhatsApp, Facebook and Skype will cost mobile operators an estimated $14 billion in lost revenues this year. And it will be 26% more from 2013, according to a study of Juniper Research. It has detected that in a number of markets the mobile voice revenues had fallen bellow 60% of their value five years’ ago. The combination ...

The affordability of broadband is something many people have been dabbling with. In 2013 the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) released a report with composite index that attempts to rank economies based on the affordability of the Internet. Here’s another take on the same, from the World Economic Forum. It is also interesting to note that there are 14 countries where the ...

Taking research to policy is our thing; social science is a means to that, not an end. Yet, we cannot help but think of how weak an instrument social science has become, especially in South Asia. Here is something I wrote in relation to some internal discussions a few months back: Expressed demand for social science may be difficult to ...

The politicians of China, Japan, South Korea and Viet Nam have locked horn over the maritime rights in South China Sea. Simultaneously, the telecoms carriers of these countries have been laying optical fiber cables underneath the same disputed water to connect each other. Dubbed as “Asia Pacific Gateway” or APG, this cable lands at Tanah Merah (Singapore), Kuantan (Malaysia), Songkhla ...

I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the choice of a Japanese standard for digital broadcasting in Sri Lanka, as part of the process of clearing the 700 MHz band of analog TV broadcasting and making the freed up spectrum available for more productive uses. I have not commented, partly because I lack the time to research the ...

We’re thinking about how we can leverage mobile network big data to help manage infectious diseases. Now the Economist has gotten on the case: Doing the same with Ebola would be hard: in west Africa most people do not own a phone. But CDRs are nevertheless better than simulations based on stale, unreliable statistics. If researchers could track population flows ...

Our colleague Sunil Abraham had the following to say about Digital India: What do you think of the government’s Digital India plan? The government can use the billions from the Universal Service Obligation fund for broadband connectivity. The markets cannot handle back haul infrastructure and in most countries, some amount of state investment is necessary. Some of the open access ...

Except for our work on agriculture, most of our activities contribute to the development of the service sector. This is partly because it is the sector that is most dependent on ICT services and because that’s where the investment and growth is, in the countries that we work in. But every so often, industrial policy, or the notion that governments ...

I’ve been fascinated with cellar dweller countries for a while. I thought North Korea was the country at the bottom, but then discovered St Helena. So now it appears that St Helena is getting an airport and maybe even a submarine cable? St Helena is a small island heading for big change. One of the most isolated islands in the ...

Advocates of Internet’s freedom have overwhelmingly supported the U.S. government before WCIT 2012 in Dubai. Thereafter one obscure Mr. Snowden has narrowed, if not collapsed, the floodgate of support for America’s doctrine of Internet. Washington’s army of diplomats has now thronged in Busan to prevent any voting on ITR issue in the Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU. In short, the State ...

In Pakistan, they are asking for fingerprints. In India, Aadhaar: ET has learnt that the security establishment is now veering towards the view that since Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI) claims that it has back-end data of most of Aadhaar recipients in the form of address proof document submitted by them while applying for an UID number, Aadhaar ...

Apparently, the eight percent tax on the gross adjusted revenues of ISPs will not be implemented. Good. TRAI had suggested a uniform licence fee of 8 per cent of the AGR (adjusted gross revenue) for all ISP and ISP-Internet Telephony licences. Government levies licence fee on AGR of telecom firms after deducting some components that are not earned from telecom ...

Professor Ali Mazrui, originally of Makarere University in East Africa, has passed away. Eulogies are coming out fast and furious, among them this: There is one crucial similarity between prophets on the one hand and public intellectuals on the other. Both seek to define the terms of the debate in an argument. But the terms of a debate cannot be ...

The ITU’s top officials get elected in a quadrennial event and the current one commences on October 20 at Busan. More than 3,000 government officials and 600,000 attendees from 193 countries are expected to visit. South Korean government is, however, worried about more than 170 delegates, including 107 Nigerians, from West Africa – the epicenter of the current Ebola outbreak. ...

The recently released report on the State of Broadband 2014 declares specific targets; Advocacy Target 1: Making broadband policy universal – by 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in UAS Definitions Advocacy Target 2: Making broadband affordable – by 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces ...

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