Where We Work

Where We Work

Where We Work

Wanting to affect the process by which three billion low-income users assume status as a new global middle class, DDI’s focus has been on Asia, and our activity encompasses the ASEAN nations of Southeast Asia, the SAARC nations of South Asia, as well as China’s PRC.

China

Meaningful Broadband-China was established under the leadership of Dean Li Guangian of the Department of Information Management at Peking University (PKU) in partnership with Digital Divide Institute. The collaboration began with a series of lectures by the DDI Chairman in Beijing who was assigned as Visiting Professor at PKU. The key  researcher leading the effort is Associate Professor Han Shenlong, who is considered a leading expert on Digital Divide in China. Confucius Institute invited DDI’s Professor Smith to deliver a lecture series called “Confucius and the Internet,” that explores the link between the philosophy of the ancient sage Confucius and principles and challenges that shape the internet in China. In July 2020 Professor Smith was given a two year appointment as visiting professor at Peking University Department of Information Management. His focus will be to
help overcome the US-China digital cold war and contribute to critical ethical solutions needed to close digital divide.

Indonesia

Indonesia is DDI’s current showcase, and the first country where Meaningful Broadband has been fully embraced by all stakeholders in public-private and academic sectors. It has not only generated the political will that caused the government to establish an Indonesia
Broadband Plan, but the Meaningful Broadband model test-market deployment to the first “Kabupaten” or local districts. To establish the design of the test market activity, the World Bank’s ICT division stepped in to head the technical team. The driver of Meaningful Broadband is the activation of a “sleeping infrastructure” – the underutilized 42,000 kilometer Palapa Ring fiber optic backbone which traverses the archipelago. The World Bank’s contribution was to link the fixed broadband to a Last Mile solution that aimed to establish the first interoperable e-government network, incorporating local schools and health clinics.

Beyond this, the Meaningful Broadband conceived a program of Meaningful Use. That concept refers to a device project and also a campaign to elicit massive local content which would generate jobs and revenue for citizens located outside urban zones. The embrace of
Meaningful Broadband did not come suddenly. DDI’s presence in Indonesia began in 2004 at Prof Smith’s seminar at Jakarta’s Harvard Club hosted by Intel Corporation. At this event, Prof Smith began his vital long-term partnership with Pak Ilham A. Habibie, a respected local
business leader and son of the former Indonesian President. Dr. Ilham Habibie later became chairman of Digital Divide Institute- Indonesia, now located within his family’s think tank, called The Habibie Center. The nation’s most powerful leaders signed a Jakarta Declaration for Meaningful Broadband and created a Meaningful Broadband Working Group, overseen from the National Palace. Between 2018 – 2020 Digital Divide Institute developed a major report to Republic of Indonesia that propose a method for aligning universal services funding with test market locations of Meaningful Broadband.

Thailand

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand invited Digital Divide Institute to re-introduce Meaningful Broadband-Thailand in order to advise the shaping a new “digital economy and society” program of the Army-led national government. Till recently, Thailand’s telecommunications sector was a source of a competitive disadvantage as several lower income ASEAN nations zoomed ahead of the more affluent Thais in all the indicators of “ICT readiness.” The DDI Chairman has been an adviser to the Kingdom of Thailand beginning in 2005.

In 2007, Professor Smith relocated to Thailand and established DDI-Asia at the nation’s flagship royal university, Chulalongkorn. Under the chairmanship of the NBTC chairman, Prof Smith became managing director of the Meaningful Broadband Working Group which included all five of the CEOs of the combative telecommunications operating companies. He mobilized the National Research Council of Thailand to provide research support and funding for the working group.