Pakistan has officially allowed private carriers to terrestrially plug the country with all the four neighbors including India. This multidimensional landmark decision makes Pakistan the buckle of South Asia-Central Asia telecoms belt. This route is embedded in our proposed trans-Asian connectivity for affordable broadband. It took us three years to convince ESCAP, which dubs our concept “Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.” Pakistan currently exports internet bandwidth to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
The notional ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ under One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative connects China with Central Asia, Russia and Europe. It also links China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean through Central Asia and West Asia. Trains carrying goods as well as the Block Trains between Chinese and European destinations via Kazakhstan under OBOR have set a new paradigm to the transcontinental cargo shipments. Therefore, portraying Kazakhstan as ‘buckle’ of the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ should not be exaggerating. ESCAP has invited me to discuss Central Asia’s potentials as a trading hub.
Saddam seems to be only physically absent in the post-Saddam Iraq. The Ministry of Communication, instead of an independent regulator, calls the shot in governing the country’s telecom sector. Recently it erratically imposed a tax on the ISPs who procure Internet bandwidth from foreign carriers. The ISPs have immediately loaded that tax on retail prices. Bowing to public anger, the government withdrew the tax.
During ESCAP’s Expert Consultation in Manila last week, I was often asked in private if terrestrial networks can deliver what the submarine cables do. I always answered affirmative citing EPEG or Europe-Persia Express Gateway. A scholarly publication by James Cowie of Renesys has coincided with ESCAP’s event and objective: EPEG is now the Internet’s fastest path between the Gulf and Europe, shaving at least ten percent off the best submarine cable round trip time from Dubai to Frankfurt. It follows the terrestrial great circle path through Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, and Germany. EPEG’s greatest selling point this year isn’t the 10% latency reduction; it’s simply that it doesn’t go through Egypt.
It has been business as usual in Istanbul, the largest gateway of Eurasian telecoms traffic. Turkey, unlike Egypt, has not killed the goose that lays golden eggs in terms of telecoms revenue and reputation, despite civil unrest. Jim Cowie, the CTO of Renesys Corporation, has written in his company’s blog: We examined the reachability of social networking sites from our measurement infrastructure within Turkey, and found nothing unusual. We examined the 72-hour history of measurements from inside Turkey to these sites, and found no change in normal behavior. In short: Turkey’s Internet does not appear to have changed significantly in reaction to the current protest events.