backhaul Archives — Page 2 of 3


As we always say, think of the Internet as a chain. A chain is as strong as the weakest link. This imperfectly researched article by a Yangon based journalist (has missed the AAE-1 Cable completely) claims that backhaul problems may be responsible for the poor Internet performance of Ooredoo. For Telenor and Ooredoo to be able to provide the capacity and redundancy needed for stable service, many across the industry point out that the companies need to be as involved with putting up towers and tower equipment as they are with building more long-haul domestic and international fiber links. Although Ooredoo has taken a starring role with regards to eye-catching marketing and corporate service responsibility initiatives, the company has also declined to even acknowledge any plans to beef up infrastructure.
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in one of the first discussions on the maritime Silk Road being promoted by President Xi Jinping. I wrote up the two points I made in my five minutes. The second point described in the excerpt below suggests that governments and operators get behind the UN ESCAP Information Superhighway initiative that we’ve been working on with them since 2010. It is possible to place security teams on trains and ships to thwart the attacks of extremists. But it is not practical to guard fibre optic cables, be they placed on the ocean floor or buried underground.
The GSMA Asia team had come to Colombo for their annual staff retreat. Amid all the team building activities, they also thought they should replenish the knowledge conduits and asked LIRNEasia to put together a few sessions. Many ideas were presented, but I thought it surprising that a collective organization of users of international backhaul capacity had paid so little attention to the sad state of international wholesale markets in the region: IP transit prices way above what were being offered in Europe and North America, excessive reliance on submarine cables that were vulnerable because of the chokepoints of the Suez, the Malacca Strait and the Taiwan Strait. Improving the international connectivity of the region by promoting the building of open-access terrestrial cables to supplement the existing submarine cables is now a priority of UN ESCAP. We’ve been working with them on this since 2010.
Abu Saeed Khan, who has been leading our engagement with UN ESCAP on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway will chair the below described session scheduled for Monday, December 08, 2014, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Hospitality Lounge 5: Many countries around the world lack affordable backhaul and cross-border networks that enable local networks to connect to the wider internet. There is still insufficient competition in some regions to facilitate competitive pricing and to allow for international Internet traffic backhaul. The availability of submarine fibre technology has brought prices down in coastal countries where competitive operators are able to bring this capacity to the market. The challenges can be greater for landlocked countries without co-operative neighbours for access to landing stations and other necessary infrastructure. There are also challenges in linking availablecapacity to internet exchange points (IXPs), either because they do not exist or because authorities impose restrictive regulation in areas such as gateways to international facilities, the use of alternative networks and dark fibre, or competitive backhaul from satellite and submarine-cable landing stations.
I write this sitting at a UN ESCAP consultation on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway in Paro, Bhutan. Bhutan is a country of around 800,000 people which has two fiber cables connecting the main cities to the Indian cables in the Siliguri area. Actual broadband user experience is patchy. Because there was no official representative from Sri Lanka, I was asked to stand in. My presentation is here.
On the face any money coming into Myanmar to help develop its creaking infrastructure is good. When the money is given on concessionary terms, it appears even better. But it is important to look beyond appearance. Will it harm competition, which is the government’s chosen (and proven) instrument to develop the ICT infrastructure? Japan said Saturday it will extend a total of ¥10.
LIRNEasia’s Senior Policy Fellow has been invited by the Department of Communication of South African government to speak at the “Workshop on Broadband Policy and Implementation in South Africa,” 11-12 November 2013, at CSIR Conference Center, Pretoria. He will speak on the “The Trans-Asian Terrestrial Broadband Link,” drawing on the work he has been doing as part of LIRNEasia’s partnership with UNESCAP.
Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan and I participated in the ESCAP consultation that sought input on three documents: a report on the state of optical-fiber-based connectivity in the ASEAN region, a new interactive map of international and domestic fiber cables in Asia and a report by LIRNEasia on resilience of ICT infrastructures. The agenda and links to presentations are here. Following revisions, our report too should be published.
It is easy for Filipino researchers to care about 1 GB of IP transit costing eight times more in Manila than in Singapore. But it not so easy to understand why working to establish a mesh network that includes multiple cables across the continental Asian landmass has any relevance to this archipelagic country. This is the discussion we had today during a presentation organized by the Phil ICT Research Network at University of the Philippines Diliman Campus. The slideset is here.
We’ve been working with UNESCAP since 2010 on addressing a key condition for affordable and reliable broadband in Asia. Today, I was impressed by how far UNESCAP has advanced the process. I am a strong believer in the power of image. They had, together with ITU, commissioned a map of the existing fiber optic cables. This will, after all the necessary approvals have been received (good luck on presenting a map of India that won’t upset somebody!
In 2010, Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan proposed that we address the problem of expensive and unreliable international backhaul in Asia. UN Under Secretary General Noeleen Hayzer of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) understood the importance of the issue and we began to work with ESCAP. By 2013, the initiative has quite a bit of wind behind its sails. Two studies have been done on South East and Central Asia. The link between the lack of redundancy in backhaul and disaster management is being explored.
The South Asian Telecom Regulators’ Council (SATRC) is holding a policy workshop in Nagarkot, a scenic location about 90 minutes from Kathmandu. Sustainable broadband is one of their key focus areas. I was asked to do the lead presentation. My presentation was organized around the metaphor of chains. A chain is as strong as the weakest link.
India’s four billion USD plan to take fiber to the Panchayat level throughout India and to allow operators to use that fiber under open-access arrangements has not drawn much attention internationally. But not that it has started we expect that to change. The National Optical Fibre Project is being implemented by a newly created entity called Bharat Broadband Networks Ltd (BBNL). The total cost of the project is around Rs 20,000 crore. At a recently held meeting of top Government officials to discuss the status of the project, it was decided that the cable supply contract would be finalised by June 20.
Telegeography is a credible supplier of proprietary and expensive data on international bandwidth trends. What their latest report says is quite interesting: International bandwidth demand growth has been robust on all five of the world’s major submarine cable routes, but has been particularly rapid on key routes to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. While bandwidth demand on the trans-Atlantic route—which has long been the world’s highest-capacity route—increased at a healthy rate of 36 percent annually between 2007 and 2012, demand for bandwidth from the U.S. to Latin America grew 70 percent per year over the same period, and demand for capacity on the Europe-Asia route via Egypt grew a staggering 87 percent per year.
It appears from news reports that the Myanmar government has commenced work on a domestic fiber backhaul network. This was among the recommendations of the oped that I published in a Myanmar newspaper last year. But as experience has shown in country after country that it is easier to build backhaul than to ensure that it is efficiently used (see downloadable book, chapter 7). For this, an open-access regime based on cost-oriented pricing and non-discriminatory access is essential. The farmlands were dug twice, while burying cables along the roads in Thapyay San village, Magway township, one of the locals said.
Telegeography reports that for the first time intra-Asian traffic on the Internet exceeds trans-Pacific traffic. Yet, there is also Asia-Europe traffic. When you add up the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe, it is still larger than intra-Asia. But the trend line is clear. Next year, or the next, intra-Asian will be the biggest category of all.