international backhaul Archives


In a “parable” I wrote some time back, I indicated that it made sense for companies such as Google to build their own international backhaul capacity or enter into joint ventures to build the cables. Telegeography says it is so: But there is a cautionary note. A lot of the build—or a lot of the demand for new capacity build is coming from content providers. Really big content providers. And within that group just a handful of companies.
Our lead on international backhaul, Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan, has been talking about data centers along with fiber cables for some time. Here is the back story, as explained by APNIC’s Geoff Huston. The original motivation of the exchange was to group together a set of comparable local access providers to allow them to directly peer with each other. The exchange circumvented paying the transit providers to perform this cross-connect, and as long as there was a sizeable proportion of local traffic exchange, then exchanges filled a real need in replacing a proportion of the transit provider’s role with a local switching function. However, exchange operators quickly realised that if they also included data centre services at the exchange then the local exchange participants saw an increased volume of user traffic that could be provided at the exchange, and this increased the relative importance of the exchange.
A four-minute clip recorded immediately after my keynote at APNIC 42 is now out. Sound quality is much much better than in the talk and, with the help of good editing, I seem to get the key points out in less than five minutes. The APNIC video.
I was asked to select a topic when I was invited to deliver the keynote at the APNIC 42 conference that was moved from Dhaka to Colombo because of the terror attacks. APNIC people usually get their jollies by debating things like the pros and cons of IPv6 versus IPv4. I had no comparative advantage on such esoterica. So I thought I’d try to broaden their horizons a little. Little attention is paid in these kinds of gatherings to what make it possible for the packets to flow: the fiber cables and the spectrum.
Bangladesh keeps talking about launching a satellite. Sri Lanka threw some money at it, but backed off. Myanmar is talking. Now India wants to gift SAARC member countries with a satellite to be launched using ISRO’s innovative, low-cost launch capabilities. Something Keynes wrote about economics gave me the answer to the puzzle of why our region’s decision makers are so enamored with telecom satellites.
Today, I had to field questions on behalf of Shazna Zuhyle and Grace Mirandilla Santos who made a canned presentation at CPRsouth 10 in Taipei on Measuring Broadband Performance: Lessons Learnt, Challenges Faced, because they could not be present in person. The principal question asked by the discussant (from Australia) and Enrico Calandro (Italy/South Africa) was why Zuhyle and Mirandilla Santos were proposing that national regulatory agencies (NRAs) should take on the responsibilities of broadband quality monitoring. Another person from the floor asked why Philippines and Asian broadband quality and value for money were so poor. I saw the answers to both questions as being connected. I said that the paper very clearly established that there was no one single method that was objectively superior to the alternatives.
A noted writer on technology who was quite supportive of our stand against efforts to assert strong national controls over the Internet through resolutions approved at the WCIT 2012, tagged me on a tweet about this alarmist piece about the Sri Lanka government’s MOU with Google to test Loon over Lanka that included the para below: The real effects of this deal will be seen after Sri Lanka’s citizens have tasted universal Internet access: how can Sri Lanka’s political parties be expected to formulate and push through strict legislation on issues such as local data storage, privacy and search engine neutrality when the party that will be affected the most (Google) is the one responsible for the country’s Internet coverage? While there may be no outright arm-twisting – which is not Silicon Valley’s style – Sri Lanka’s legislators will undoubtedly think twice before coming out with legislation that would require Internet companies to retain Sri Lankan data on Sri Lankan soil; a controversial notion that has seen countries such as Brazil flip-flop in the face of intense lobbying. It’s possible that my friend did not read to the end, but simply thinking that he would outsource the response to this […]
I had seen the draft, but as with all UN organizations it took some time for the official text to be published. By that time, we had moved on, and it did not make the blog. But here are the operative paragraphs of the outcome document of the Paro Meeting on the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway: Call on Asia-Pacific regional cooperation organisations, including subregional organizations such as BIMSTEC and ECO, and regional policy think tanks such as LIRNEasia, to facilitate regional cooperation in ICT infrastructure and promote regional connectivity as a regional public good, Request all regional cooperation organisations in Asia and the Pacific, especially BIMSTEC and ECO to actively facilitate the regional cooperation in ICT infrastructure and promote regional connectivity as a regional public good and as well as an integral component of regional integration process in its respective regions, Agree to propose to the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology and Committee on Transport at their fourth sessions, respectively that, through its relevant working groups, ESCAP’s intergovernmental agreements make provisions for the synchronized deployment of infrastructure along transport networks, Further agree to support at the fourth session of the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology, on […]
In a packed session chaired by LIRNEasia’s Abu Saeed Khan, the next steps in improving international backhaul will be discussed. Affordable International Backhaul Monday, December 08, 2014, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Hospitality Lounge 7 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.
Since 2010, we at LIRNEasia have been engaged with problems of international backhaul. Renesys, an authoritative voice in this space, has a nice summary of developments in 2013. Here is their conclusion, influenced no doubt by the incredible damage done to US players in this space by the indiscriminate snooping of NSA. Increasingly, simply having inexpensive connectivity in our interconnected world is not enough. As enterprises become more sophisticated consumers of Internet transit, they seek connectivity alternatives that will keep their own customers happy.
Next week, Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan will be among the earliest speakers at ITU’s big tamasha, coming back to our part of the work after some time. In addition to Abu, who will discuss the work we are doing in partnership with UNESCAP to improve the resilience and reduce the costs of Asia’s international backhaul capacity, Reg Coutts, a member of the CPRsouth Board is also scheduled to speak. PSA1 : Riding the Data Wave Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 14:15 – 15:45, Jupiter 8 The plethora of new wireless devices reaching international markets is facilitating innovative business models but stressing the ability of fixed and mobile networks to keep pace. Wireless has for some time provided basic connectivity in Asia but the data storm that has hit European and North American markets will present new challenges to operators due to the shortage of high capacity back haul. ‘Front-hauling’ is one of the techniques that have been promoted as a solution but its use of scarce spectrum presents other difficulties.
Today at IGF 2013 in Bali, I was part of a panel on cloud and mobile computing. We at LIRNEasia need cloud computing. But we are also realistic about the challenges. Here is the slideset I used to illustrate the quality problems. But I also talked about the weak links in the chain and what was being done to strengthen them.
Botswana is a landlocked country. It invested in the West Africa Cable System (WACS) which it connected to through Namibia. It is now reaping the benefits. Internet prices are expected to go down as the Botswana Telecommunications Corporations (BTC) Group has slashed its wholesale internet bandwidth prices by 59 percent due to the commissioning of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) undersea cable. There is a lesson here for other landlocked countries.
It was in December 2005 that I wrote the following in an op-ed in the Daily Star: The SAT-3 cable did not increase Internet traffic from Africa, including Nigeria. Indeed, the year-on-year growth slowed in the year after the cable (71 percent in 2002 and 53 percent in 2003). In the case of Nigeria, one reason could have been delays in completing the national infrastructure necessary for full use of the cable. While the landing station was completed in December of 2001 and the cable was inaugurated in May of 2002, the traffic started flowing from Nigeria only in April 2003. Those familiar with the repeated delays in contracting the “dry” segment of the cable from Cox’s Bazaar to Chittagong are likely to see the similarities.