LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific (About)


Abu Saeed Khan on LION, the Asian (Information) Highway

Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan has been extensively quoted in an analytical piece on backhaul concerns in Asia, published in Capacity magazine. Coincidentally, this is directly connected to the post a short while back on the data tsunami.

One man, however, has come up with an ambitious concept that could potentially dwarf any existing terrestrial projects and radically reduce Asia’s reliance on subsea cables. Abu Saeed Khan is senior policy fellow at the Asia-Pacific ICT policy and regulatory think tank LIRNEasia, and his clear vision is to utilise the extensive Asian Highway Network project by deploying an open access terrestrial optical mesh backbone alongside it.

The Asian highway project brings together 32 countries in Asia and Europe and is assisted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) which aims to create a highway system from Japan all the way to Turkey. With 142,000km of the highway network reportedly already completed, Khan believes it is the “natural right of way for any long-haul optical fibre transmissions”.

Khan first came up with the concept in 2008 and has been actively trying to encourage various members of the telecoms sector to get onboard since. Calling the proposed network LION, in reference to the Longest International Open-access Network, he estimates the project would cost between $10 to 20 billion to construct and should be funded via a public/private investment model. The incentive for the road authorities managing the Asian Highway is also clear, he says, as it will provide them with additional revenues.

“This should be a multi-vendor project involving the likes of Siemens-Erikson, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei deploying and maintaining the networks,” says Khan. “The push must come from the carriers as it will benefit them if the offshore fibre networks are replicated onshore. It will help to create a competitive market and drastically lower the cost of international bandwidth.”

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