backhaul Archives — Page 3 of 3


Last month, LIRNEasia was invited to contribute to an inter-agency meeting on ICTs convened by the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP). Among the attendees were ITU, APT, ICAO, ISDR, and UNOPS. Our presentation was on the UNESCAP priority project to improve the affordability and resilience of international backhaul capacity in Asia.
Bangladesh is a big country and a coastal country. Yet it was very late in getting connected to a cable. SEA-ME-WE 4 became operational only in 2006. Then it was the largest country without redundancy,having to rely on SEA-ME-WE 4 even to communicate with India, the country that surrounds it. Now all that is over.
‎Our argument has been that the principal cause is the lack of terrestrial cables. While prices have declined globally, significant geographic disparities persist. For example, despite falling 22% compounded annually between Q2 2007 and Q2 2012, the median price of a GigE port in Hong Kong has remained 2.7 to 5.1 times the price of a GigE port in London over the past five years.
The New York Times has an interesting feature about 32 innovations that can change our lives. Here is the problem that requires fixing according to David Pogue, the NYT’s resident tech guru: That we’re heading for a bandwidth crunch. We’re saddling the Internet with amazing new features — movies on demand, streaming TV, Siri voice recognition, whole-house backup — but they’re starting to overwhelm the existing Internet’s capacity, especially on cellular networks. The Internet and phone companies respond by imposing monthly limits, and the F.C.
A short piece I wrote on my own time (IDRC is subject to Canadian government restrictions against any expenditures of Canadian funds in/for Myanmar) was just published in English in the Myanmar Times. I am hopeful the Bamar translation will also be published. The text is below: In 2010, I worked on a section of an ITU report about information and communication technologies in the least developed countries (ITU, 2011). Analyzing the countries that were at the bottom of the league tables in telecom, I found to my unhappiness that Burma was one before the last in mobile telephony. Hearing that N Korea was reaching 1 million active connections by end 2011, I checked the data again.
Led by Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan we’ve been saying that Asia needs a terrestrial cable system to back up the submarine cables. By the time international government organizations get organized, the private workarounds will be fully operational. Like traders plying the ancient Silk Road, telecommunications operators routing bits and bytes from Asia to Europe and back have to pass through the Middle East, whose tricky geography and even more challenging geopolitics have sometimes made the region just as much of a bottleneck in the digital realm as in the physical world. When things go wrong, the consequences can be serious and far-reaching. In January 2008, for example, several underwater cables off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt were inexplicably severed.
LIRNEasia organized a panel on Broadband Bottlenecks in Asia at the ITS India Conference. Here are the slides that were presented at the session, with apologies for the late posting. Helani Galpaya presentation on “Network bottlenecks in South Asian broadband?” Rohan Samarajiva and Abu Saeed Khan presentation on “Removing a broadband bottleneck: International connectivity” Payal Malik presentation on “How do we avoid the spectrum bottleneck?” Sriganesh Lokanathan presentation on “Teleuse@BOP4”
We’ve been talking about the qualitative increase in data volumes that will result from the conversion of mobile networks into carriers of data since 2010. Is it a flood, a tsunami or an avalanche? The name does not seem to matter (though tsunami is the term that seems to be catching). Unless the problem is understood (operators do; some regulators and policy makers do, as evidenced below); and addressed (both in terms of access networks, as below, and in terms of backhaul, as we have been advocating), the quality of broadband experience will degrade radically. The announcement comes as wireless companies are facing a spectrum crunch crisis that has already begun to reshape the industry.

eAsia 2011 begins in Dhaka

Posted on December 1, 2011  /  2 Comments

It seemed like a launch and a coming out party combined. The launch was of Digital Bangladesh. The coming out was of Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the thinker behind Digital Bangladesh who also happens to be the grandson of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and son of Shiekh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. It was a grand vision that was set out, one that would radically increase ICT literacy in Bangladesh, provide government services over e platforms and create service industry jobs for the wave of young people entering the job market. It was ironical that we had to listen to the speeches on digital Bangladesh phoneless, having been compelled to leave all electronics behind in the name of security.
Since our research pointed us to the necessity of lowering international backhaul costs if the dream of taking broadband to all in emerging Asia was to be realized, I’ve been very interested in the ADB’s USD 9 million project to build a backhaul network connecting Nepal, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Here’s what the ADB website says about the project: The Project is aimed at enhancing the benefits of ICT and regional cooperation for inclusive growth and poverty reduction by increasing the supply of affordable broadband, skilled ICT manpower, and local content and e-applications, with a special focus on the needs of the poor. It is also expected to help SASEC countries improve their productivity and efficiency and participate more fully in the global information economy. To this end, the Project will establish (i) a SASEC regional network with fiber-optic and data interchange capacity, directly connecting the four SASEC countries; (ii) a SASEC village network expanding broadband ICT access to 110 rural communities in the SASEC countries and providing direct connections among the communities for local networking and local information sourcing; and (iii) a SASEC research and training network to build technical and business skills in developing local ICT content and […]
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.
We have been talking about the need to prepare for qualitatively higher volumes of data in Asia as more people start using 3G networks. Our proposals have focused on adding to international backhaul capacity in order to reduce prices of this key input that is now 3-6 times more expensive than capacity in Europe and North America. The New York Times discusses how the data flood is playing out in the US. The projections are that the networks will have to carry the total traffic they carried in all of 2010, in just two months in 2015 in the US. Cellphone plans that let people gobble up data as if they were at an all-you-can eat buffet are disappearing, just as a new crop of data-gobbling Internet services from Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Apple and the like are hitting the market or catching on with wide audiences.
Today at the IITCOE workshop Ashok Jhunjhunwala made a strong argument that the Indian government must hive off the backhaul networks of BSNL and have them be managed by a separate company. Interestingly Masayoshi Son, the Japanese entrepreneur has made more or less the same argument in Japan. Great minds think alike. The government is expected shortly to unveil a scheme to loop the country with fibre-optic lines that will support internet access at up to 100 megabytes a second, ten times the speed of the technology being replaced. Mr Son argues that to guarantee fair access to this network—and thus the most efficient use of it—it should be run by an infrastructure firm hived off from NTT, owned jointly by all the telecoms operators.