Yesterday was the South Africa launch of the latest Vodafone policy paper series report: “Making Broadband Accessible for All”. The LINK centre at University of the Witwatersrand hosted a fairly interesting panel to discuss some of the findings, including the CEO of Vodacom, Pieter Uys. It was mentioned a couple of times that Vodafone only set out broad themes for the research, and that these are the researchers’ independent opinions. But as much as I may respect the researchers and agree with their arguments, there will always be a credibility issue with sponsored research. Especially when it tends to support the sponsor’s position; e.g., there should be a bigger focus on wireless for developing country broadband, MTR regulations can have a negative “waterbed” effect on data prices, deregulation of spectrum allocation is more effective than planning, and larger operators make more efficient use of spectrum. Nonetheless, there were some interesting findings in the report and some good, open debate at the launch.
More specific personal observations can be accessed here if you’re interested in the policy discussion. Otherwise there are various other blogs (mostly by authors) reflecting on the report such as:
If you haven’t seen them, the rest of the Vodafone policy paper series is here. One of the most popular ones has been “Africa: The Impact of Mobile Phones” published in 2005.