Intra-Asian Internet network starts operation

Eight participating Asian telecommunications operators this week inaugurated the AIN (Asian Internet network), a project to build direct Internet links between the countries and so reduce the need for Internet traffic in Asia to go via the US.

The eight carriers currently bear the full cost of the international Internet backbone links between the region and the US. Several times this year, the carriers, along with Australia's Telstra, have called for the US to share part of the cost of providing the links, citing increasing Internet traffic from the US to Asia as one reason.

Bandwidth between each AIN member will be at least 2M bits per second (bps) initially, depending on the volume of Internet traffic, according to AIN member Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel). This will be reviewed and upgraded when the network is 70 percent utilized. There are also plans underway to build a joint AIN network to the US and Europe.

"With the formation of the AIN, the Asian carriers seek to strengthen their Internet links with each other, and reduce their reliance on Internet links to the US for intra-Asia traffic," Sng Koon Pin, director of the SingTel Internet Exchange, said in a statement.

The AIN is trying to cope with extraordinary growth in Internet traffic in Asia. Since 1996,Singapore's Internet bandwidth available for international traffic has grown by a factor of 50 from 8M bps to more than 400M bps, SingTel said. This is expected to further triple by the middle of next year to nearly 1,200M bps. The introduction of free Internet access services in Singapore will underpin this growth in demand for bandwidth, according to SingTel.

The eight carriers in the AIN are SingTel, the Communications Authority of Thailand, Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan, Indonesia Satellite Corporation, Japan's KDD, Korea Telecom, Philippines Long Distance Telephone and Telekom Malaysia.

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