LIRNEasia has publicly tabled the proposal of laying fiber along the Asian Highway for universal access to broadband in CommunicAsia on June 2011. At that time we called it LION or Longest International Open-access Network. Light Reading and Total Telecom were cautiously optimistic. The then boss of ITU, who also attended the event, gave cold shoulder to our initiative.
Unsurprisingly the ESCAP took us seriously. This UN agency, which fosters Asian Highway, has studied Asia’s cross-border telecoms connectivity and affordability of broadband. And it has adopted our vision followed by renaming it as AP-IS or Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.
This development has sensitized the organizers of CommunicAsia. They have invited me to moderate a session on “A Master Plan for the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway” in this year’s event. Michael Ruddy of Terabit Consulting has presented “Current Status of Broadband Infrastructure in the ASEAN Region.” Doug Madory of Dyn Research talked about “Enabling Healthy Internet Access.” Carlos Katsuya, Head of Telecom, Media & Technology in Asia at International Finance Corporation has joined both the speakers in a lively discussion later on.
Don Sambandaraksa of Telecom Asia wrote:
Abu Saeed Khan, senior policy fellow at LIRNEasia, said that Asia is much like an archipelago when it comes to internet connectivity: a patchwork quilt with little or no cross border fiber and an over-reliance on subsea cables.
LIRNEAsia wants an information superhighway along the Asian Highway network: 140,000 kilometers stretching from Japan to Turkey. An agreement has been reached, and later this year, the communication ministers of the region will sign an amendment incorporating the implementation of fiber along the road.
Nick Wood of Total Telecom said:
“It will take time but new hubs will naturally emerge,” predicted Karlos Katsuya, head of telecom, media and technology for Asia at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a unit of the World Bank that deals exclusively with private companies in developing markets.
However, “to become a hub you need the right regulatory framework, and other important elements like power supply and workforce,” he said. “It’s a combination of factors.”
Interconnecting the data centers and the peering exchanges throughout all Asian cities via a seamless open-access optical fiber cross-border link has been our mission. Once achieved, broadband will be democratized the way mobile phone has democratized the phone calls in our continent. We are navigating the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway to that direction.