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APNG Trailblazers for the Advancement of Internet Infrastructure and Access in the Asia Pacific

Written by  Dr Tan Tin Wee
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Dr Tan Tin WeeIssue:Asia-Pacific II 1999
Article no.:1
Topic:APNG Trailblazers for the Advancement of Internet Infrastructure and Access in the Asia Pacific
Author:Dr Tan Tin Wee
Title:Chairman
Organisation:Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG)
PDF size:32KB

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Article abstract

The Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG) is the oldest Asia Pacific Internet organisation dedicated to the advancement of networking infrastructure in the region, and to the research and development of all associated enabling technologies. Its mission is to promote the Internet and the co-ordination of network interconnectivity in the Asia Pacific region.

 

Full Article

Today, APNG is the leading voice of Internet networking in the Asia Pacific region, having spawned off numerous Asia Pacific organisations to deal with the administration, management, promotion and advancement of the Internet. Key AP Internet organisations have its roots in APNG or are closely associated with it, they include: Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) (initiated 1992 and incorporated 1996), focusing on Internet address space administration and management. Asia & Pacific Internet Association (APIA) (incorporated 1997) focusing on promoting business interest in the commercial Internet industry Asia Pacific Policy and Legal Forum (APPLe) (1996) focusing on Internet governance, legal and policy issues Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) (1996) focusing on training and education Asia Pacific Advanced Network consortium (APAN) (1997) dealing with advanced research in networking technologies and research networking Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Name Forum (APTLD) (1998) handling matters pertaining to Internet domain names Through its regular twice yearly meetings hosted throughout the region, APNG has participation from more than 30 countries or economies in the region. The name Asia Pacific is applied loosely in an inclusive way and any economy in the Pacific Rim and on? the continent of Asia is welcome to attend APNG meetings. Organised in the spirit of Internet volunteerism, rough consensus, goodwill and co-operation, APNG is currently incubating a number of initiatives, focusing on crucial areas of need in the region, including Internet security (APSIRC), multilingual domain names (iDNS), critical infrastructure protection (APCIP), Internet in education, and Internet for disability groups. Key leaders in APNG and its spin-offs include Internet luminaries and well-known movers and shakers of the Internet industry in the AP region such as Kilnam Chon and Jinho Hur of South Korea, Jun Murai, Haruhisha Ishida, Toru Takahashi, Shigeki Goto, Suguru Yamaguchi, Izumi Aizu of Japan, Li Xing and Qian Hualin from China, Wu Kuo-wei and Chen Nian-Shing from Taiwan, Pindar Wong, Lawrence Law and Cheng Che-Hoo from Hong Kong, Barry and Laina R. Greene from Singapore, Kanchana Kanchanasut and Srisakdi Charmonman from Thailand, Geoff Huston, Paul Wilson and Clive Flory from Australia, Mohamed Awang Lah and Tommi Chen from Malaysia, David R. Conrad, Ole Jacobson and Bill Manning from USA, Roger Hicks, Patrick OBrien and Jim Higgins from New Zealand Bill Semich from Niue, Norbert Klein from Cambodia, and many others. As the current representative organisation for the Asia Pacific region in the Co-ordinating Committee on Intercontinental Research Networking (CCIRN), APNG has its origins in the research and academic realm. CCIRN is an international body with representation from North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. It provides a forum for members to agree and progress a set of activities to achieve inter-operable networking services between participating international entities to support open research and scholarly pursuit. APNG became organised as APCCIRN in 1991 but held regular meetings since 1985. In 1995, APCCIRN was renamed APNG to better reflect its wider role which goes beyond research and scholarly matters. APNGs role today includes: Reviewing Asia Pacific policy, strategy and operational issues related to international networking Developing consensus guidelines that members can use in establishing inter-operable international networking infrastructure and services Providing an Asia Pacific delegation to international organisations with input and feedback from the Asia Pacific networking community Carrying out a wide range of activities related to international networking Internet Resource Management APNIC In the early 1990s, it was recognised that Internet address space needed proper management and administration. Starting as a NIC project (Network Information Center) by APNG in 1992, the seeds for the formation of APNIC where planted in 1993. Characteristic of many events in the Internet industry, the early APNIC was borne on the shoulders of volunteers as a labour of love, notably the founding Director-General (DG), David Conrad. By 1994, APNIC was recognised by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and authorised to issue resources on a regular basis. Today, APNIC is one of three regional registries in the world, providing allocation and registration of Internet addresses and autonomous system numbers (AS). It serves more than 50 economies in South and Central Asia, South-East Asia, Indochina and Oceania, with more than 250 fee paying members, including more than a dozen confederations representing a further 400 indirect members. The explosive growth of the Internet in the region demands an ever-increasing number of Internet addresses. With the appointment of Paul Wilson another Internet pioneer, as the new DG, APNIC will continue to fulfil the role of catalysing the continued growth of the network through judicious use of a limited resource, encouraging proper network planning and providing a robust and efficient service. APTLD Controversy in the Internet domain name system (DNS) has been very much in the news lately. Many voices have been heard, and many important issues such as management of the root servers, de-monopolising of the DNS Top Level Domain (TLD) registration, intellectual property and name dispute resolution have yet to be fully resolved. In the wake of this, APNG immediately initiated TLD meetings in 1997, followed by the formation of the APTLD forum, to organise the Asia Pacific voice and representation at the newly formed International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the successor non-profit corporation to IANA set up in 1998. In addition, APNG provided the platform, resources and several key founders for APLTD to start the World Wide Alliance of Top Level Domains (WWTLD). Today, over 130 country code ccTLDs have signed up to support the original charter of WWTLD. Chaired by Internet luminary and founding father of the Internet in the Asia Pacific, Professor Kilnam Chon, APTLD will continue to provide that AP voice in international debates and forums, and will ensure that the world does not proceed forward in Internet matters without the interest of AP constituents adequately taken into consideration. Internet Commerce APIA Even before it became apparent to the commercial world that the Internet will become the global information infrastructure (GII), APNG had already set up its Commercial Working Group to study, discuss and plan the foundation for the commercial Internet as a basis for electronic commerce. By 1997, the Commercial WG was spun out as the Asia & Pacific Internet Association (APIA), a fully incorporated trade association dedicated to the promotion of business interests in the commercial Internet. As the evolving voice of Asias Internet industry, APIA is helping to provide the basis for Asias industry to survive in the Information Age of the new millennium. Several Internet leaders have emerged from the early academic stable of APNG to enter into the commercial Internet realm successfully, including notable names such as Jin Ho Hur (PSI), Tommi Chen (NetCentre) and Pindar Wong (Verifi), who in turn, have played important roles in APIA. No doubt, the many challenges facing APIA would include the current economic uncertainties in Asia and the Y2K problem. APPLe Fostering healthy growth of the Internet commerce in our region requires more: good governance, proactive policies and a sensible legal framework. Covering this important aspect of the Internet is the Asia Pacific Policy and Legal Forum (APPLe), set up as a BoF discussion in 1996, APPLe is chaired by Laina R. Greene, and has been active in the circles of ITU, ICANN, WIPO, APEC, PECC and other international bodies. Internet Security APSIRC Without a secure Internet network infrastructure, it is impossible to envisage that electronic commerce will take place successfully in the AP region. To date, the level of awareness among Internet service providers in the region still needs improvement. National agencies need to understand the key issues involved and be technically astute in the design of network security , implementation of security policies at all levels and the effective handling of intruding incidents. To promote this aspect of the Internet, APNG set up the Security and Incident Response Coordination Working Group (APSIRC) in 1998 to catalyse the formation of national computer emergency and response teams (or commonly known as CERTs) and increase awareness among Internet practitioners and network managers. Key signatures are exchanged; regular face-to-face meetings are conducted to foster a web of trust. In this way, it is hoped that authentic security information can be rapidly disseminated, vulnerabilities and intrusions may be rapidly nipped in the bud. APSIRC today has member representatives from Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It encourages members to join in the activities of the international Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST). As Internet intrusion knows no international boundaries, it is critical for any country network connected to the Internet to have security teams that act as the immune system for defending against intruders. Until APSIRC can stand on its own, APNG will continue to incubate and foster its growth. APCIP In 1996, the US Presidents Commission for Critical Infrastructure Protection (PCCIP) was initiated to recommend a comprehensive national strategy for protecting and assuring critical infrastructures from physical and cyber threats, covering information and communications, electrical power systems, gas and oil transportation and storage, banking and finance, transportation, water supply systems, emergency services and government services, i.e. any entity that has its information network connected to the Internet. By 1997, the strategic report was made and the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO) was announced in 1998. Defined as a new capability that resides right at the point where national security and economic security merge, critical infrastructure assurance is vital to nations in the Asia Pacific. The impact this new field will have on us is still unknown. To study this new phenomenon, where information weapons proliferate and infrastructure warfare may be conducted through computer networks, APNG initiated a corresponding Chairmans Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection (APCIP) for the Asia Pacific region in 1998. As rapidly as AP nations jump on the Internet bandwagon, connecting their internal computer networks to the Internet, there should be a concomitant increase in the level of security protection, network surveillance and contingency planning. It is hoped that APCIP which is led by a leading expert, William Church, will help the AP region come to grips eventually with the larger issues beyond the unorganised recreational hacker, CERT advisories on network vulnerabilities and incident reporting. Internet Education APRICOT A critical aspect in the dissemination and deployment of any new technology is education. The Asia Pacific region faces the daunting challenge of raising a new generation of IT specialists who can become network planners, architects, engineers, managers, system administrators, web administrators, authors, editors, security experts, etc, - key technologists well versed in the operation of the Internet network of the region. It was with this in mind that a group of intrepid Internauts?, many who are key APNG drivers, pulled together limited resources to create the First Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) held in Singapore in 1996, co-located with an APNG meeting. Nurtured under the founding role and funding support of APNIC, APRICOT has now past its fourth successful year. It has a brand name in the industry and has become the premier regional conference for network operators and policy makers. In 1999, APRICOT hosted an Asia Pacific Internet Festival where more than ten Internet events were co-located, including an ICANN regional meeting. More than a thousand participants representing key ISPs have been trained in APRICOT sessions over the years. APNG Education WG As much as Internet operators need to be skilled in the art of running networks, users need to be educated too. In particular, Internet in the education system is a key priority. For many years, APNG has run an Education Working Group set up to foster the use of Internet in educational institutions, particularly K-12 schools. This group is particularly active in Taiwan where there is a national program to bring Internet to thousands of schools. Part of the educational experience enriched by the use of the Internet involves routine daily collaboration between schools in different countries using Internet tools from the humble email to sophisticated video conferencing systems. The Education WG, through promoting the use of Internet for education, is poised to act as a strong catalytic force. Internet Advanced Research Ivan Campos depicts in his by-now-famous spiral of technology development, a repeating cycle of growth and spin-off in the Internet. In the eighties and early nineties, the so-called commercial or commodity Internet as we now know, evolved from the academic community to the industry. As academic research progresses, another cycle is emerging, whereby the next generation of Internet technologies are brewing in the network laboratories of top research and academic institutions in the world. The Internet2 initiative from US universities run by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) and its Abilene Network, the NSF-funded STARTAP and vBNS high performance backbone network, the Next Generation Internet Initiative (NGI), and advanced networks in Canada and Europe exemplify this next emerging wave of technologies. In the Asia Pacific, our answer is the Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN) consortium. APNG leaders have tracked this development closely and matched them within a six to 12 month time frame. Whereas the first generation Internet involved just one or two Asian countries in the 1980s, the second generation Internet involved four founding members - Japan, Korea, Australia and Singapore, including more than a dozen institutions within these countries. APAN, together with our Indiana University partners in the Transpac Project to link APAN to STARTAP, and the Asia Internet Interconnection Initiative (AI3), involves an additional half a dozen other countries today, including Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Within months of the inception of STARTAP in 1997, Singapores advanced research and education network SINGAREN became the first country network outside North America to link up in November 1997. Taiwans TANET and APANs Tokyo Exchange Point (Tokyo-XP) became the next to connect in 1998. The APAN consortium was formed in June 1997 by the founding Chairman of APNG, Kilnam Chon, and today is poised to create new advanced network applications and technologies to meet the emerging needs in research and education. From biological database mirroring (BioMirrors Project) to remote tele-manufacturing and global design, from remote control of synchrotrons to tele-medicine, APAN will continue to spur the advancement of tomorrows Internet today. Internet access for all Crossing the Disability Barrier: APNG Enable Sub-Working Group As far and as fast as we have pushed the frontiers of technology in APAN, APNG is mindful about not leaving in its wake a group of information have-nots, straggling at the wrong tail of the development bell-shaped curve as late adopters. Of particular concern is the artificial barrier which computers and the Internet raises for people with disabilities. In this regard, APNG has set up a disability working group, Enable SWG, since 1996 to address this. Having amply demonstrated at the 1996 APNG meeting that people with visual impairment can make use of speech synthesisers to compose and send email or surf the Web, those with hearing loss can use the Internet as a communications tool, and wheelchair users can cross the globe through the net. The EnableSWG is working through and with various organisations to get this message across. Our volunteers co-operate with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web consortium (W3C), ESCAP, the International Centre for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI), and with Internet the Society to help run sessions regularly at the annual INET meetings. Crossing the Linguistic Barrier: iDNS Through the vehicle of APTLD, it is hoped that the interest of many previously unheard voices in the different penetration of the Internet to the ordinary man in the street in Asia is that of the language barrier. For the Internet to be truly globalised, its World Wide Web (WWW or the Web) and email services must be immediately accessible to the ordinary person, from classrooms to the boardrooms. Even though it has been possible to view Web content or send email in Asian languages for more than half a decade, the DNS does not allow for multilingual characters. Neither Web addresses nor email addresses allow for anything other than ASCII characters. To non-native English speakers, it becomes a major challenge at the point of entry to remember these addresses in an alien script. As such, APNG initiated the multilingual or Internationalised Domain Name System (iDNS) project as an APNG Chairmans Commission in 1998 to invent, implement and test the usage of domain names in native scripts of the region. If this barrier can be overcome, many national intranet projects can be rapidly deployed, even in rural areas where English is not widely spoken and the roman script not acceptable as a medium for deployment. For the development of iDNS, APNG has now received funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a quasi-government public corporation set up by the Canadian government, through the IDRCs Pan Asia Networking (PAN) R&D Grants Programme. b>Conclusion For all its activities, the APNG still remains a volunteer organisation and not very well known and perhaps rightly so. For through its daughter organisations and closely affiliated groups, whose profiles necessarily have to be high, much has been achieved. Over the years, APNG activities may be low key but are seminal and substantive. As it crosses the new millennium, its next big challenge is for continuity. Many aspects of the Internet are emerging and need more attention than what a volunteer organisation can handle. So far, APNG has succeeded through its incubation and spawning of new organisations to handle each new challenge. As new challenges emerge rapidly, APNG needs to expand correspondingly, and is currently seeking funding, financial backers and volunteers to keep vibrant its work as trailblazers of Internet infrastructure and development for the Asia Pacific region. Acknowledgements APNG acknowledges the support of the National University of Singapore for a grant to host its Secretariat in Singapore from 1997 to 1999, and many volunteers, well-wishers and organisations that regularly donate substantial funds and sacrifice professional time to keep its projects alive. Please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for any information about how you or your organisation can help. Our next meeting will be co-located with the INET99 conference in San Jose in June 1999.

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