Good Ideas for Bad Times is the latest piece for Foreign Policy --it rounds up some new(ish) ideas related to development thinking including just giving money to the poor, geotagging, transparency in aid flows and new approaches to migration policy.
Suerpfast: Is It Worth A Subsidy? is a working paper written with my brother, Robert Kenny, at Communications Chambers. Governments around the world are investing multiple billions to support the roll-out of fiber. These subsidies are based on the premise that fiber to the home brings substantial externalities. However, the evidence that basic broadband has contributed significantly to economic growth is decidedly mixed, and points to low returns for (expensive) superfast upgrades. This is especially the case given that many of the applications used to emphasize the supposed benefits of fiber to the home can be delivered by basic broadband or by superfast to business and government rather than to homes. In addition, other high speed broadband infrastructures are often simply ignored when making the case for fiber, and fiber rollout is credited with bringing benefits that would in fact require major systems and social change in other parts of the economy. Given the benefits of fiber have been considerably overstated, governments should think very hard indeed before supporting fiber rollout to the home. The paper casued a bit of excitement in Australia, and attracted somecritics. Here is our response. The paper was published in info (vol 13, No. 11). We published a short version in The Journal of the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals (gated, here).