A full house and people standing and attending the workshop. I would like to assume that this signifies the important subject being addressed in this workshop titled “Expanding Broadband for a Global Internet Economy: Development Dimensions” chaired by Dimitri Ypsilanti of OECD.
The keynote speaker, Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia started with a question whether or not the development in mobile subscribers in the south Asia & South East Asia was because of adequate policy framework or the lack of it. The percentages showing that the bottom of the pyramid people, the poor people in this part of the world have never heard about the internet is quite high and this should be considered as the market for the private sectors. There was an example of Cell Bazar in Bangladesh was given as example of innovation in usage of broadband and urged that the Bottleneck in International Backbone should be removed and effective research should be carried out to reduce the prices. Olfat Monseh of NTRA Egypt provided that the percentage of broadband users are increasing over the period of time and stressed that pricing has become competitive in Egypt but Arabic content is required to ramp up the demand. Also to serve the high end users laws are being enacted and e-signature law is in the making. Anriettee Esterhuysen of APC stated that Broadband is an opportunity. Efforts should be made to remove bottlenecks and this should be done in national level. She stressed that areas like strengthening the media, Gaming, government delivering services to citizens should be the focus areas. Also there are some challenges like government afraid of cyber security are not promoting and this should be taken care of. Jake Jennings of AT&T stressed that broadband policy is important and efforts should be put into security and privacy issues. The government should give spectrum for expansion and private sector will take the risk. As the usage increases there should be clear focus on data retention policy as well.
The points which resonated during the workshop were :
- Bottom of pyramid people is the market for the mobile telephony operators
- User generated solution rather than user generated content should be the focus area
- Usage of USF should be looked into.
- Voice based solutions in south asian countries can be solution considering the illiteracy
- Operators should be given free hand to manage the network however care should be taken that all services are not provided by a single operator and there is enough competition to take care of the pricing effect.