LAHORE: Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE) Dr Ihsan Ayyub Qazi’s research has been selected as one of the two best papers by the ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communications Review (CCR) Editorial Board. In recognition of this award, the research will be presented at the ACM SIGCOMM 2018 Conference in Budapest, Hungary later this year.
“This work also included two of my LUMS undergraduate students, Sohaib Ahmed and Zaid A Farooq and was carried out in collaboration with colleagues from Northeastern University, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (Germany), University of Cape Town (South Africa),” said Dr Qazi.
Free Basics is a Facebook initiative to provide free web services in developing countries. While the programme has grown rapidly to 60+ countries in the past two years, it has also seen strong opposition from internet activists due to concerns around data privacy, network neutrality, and unfair competition. As a result, it has been banned in certain countries (e.g., India and Egypt). This research provides the first independent empirical analysis of Free Basics architecture, users, content providers, and cellular service providers over nine months using vantage points in three countries and by implementing and deploying the Free Basics services. This can be vital for more informed public debates on allowing or banning such a programme in the future and more nuanced dialogues between telecom regulatory authorities, cellular providers and Facebook.
Commenting on the research focus at LUMS and its impact on their work, Dr Qazi said, “The sustained focus on research at LUMS played an important role in inspiring our work. LUMS has all the ingredients of a world-class university, which includes outstanding faculty, excellent students, highly supportive staff and administration, and a great working environment.”