WORKING GROUP MEETING | BY INVITATION ONLY
Broadband connectivity and the Internet use have been growing rapidly over the last decade in the Asia-Pacific region.
The countries with better broadband networks have leveraged the capabilities to launch new solutions, applications and initiatives to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 9 as well as national development goals. They are also well equipped to introduce emerging technologies and are positioned to participate in the digitally empowered global supply chains and provide inclusive services. However, not all countries are in a position to enjoy such opportunities and benefits, as evidenced by persistent gaps between developed and developing countries in various connectivity indicators.
Concerned by this divergence, the member countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) project to reduce the digital divide and expand broadband facilities across and within countries. The purpose of the project is to enhance the availability and redundancy of broadband networks for the achievement of SDGs through four pillars, namely 1) developing physical connectivity, 2) improved Internet traffic management, 3) enhancing e-resilience and 4) ensuing broadband for all.
Despite the continuing efforts of ESCAP and the member States, the recent improvements in physical broadband connectivity have not yet been translated into affordable broadband services for end users in some countries. The CLMV countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam) are no exceptions. Despite the improved broadband connectivity, ESCAP studies show that inefficient data traffic management has led to a negative impact on the broadband efficiency, and the spread of the Internet. Besides the expansion of physical broadband infrastructure, as a complementing step, it is vital to increase the network traffic efficiency so that that network traffic can take full advantage of the well-established physical infrastructure. More specifically, the establishment of Internet Exchange Point (IXP) is expected to have positive impacts on quality affordability, latency and traffic capacity. Yet in the CLMV countries, there is little progress and discussion due to lack of consistent evidence and subregional cooperation framework.
Taking these into consideration, ESCAP and the National Information Agency (NIA) of the Republic of Korea conducted research and pointed out that IXPs are a core facility to expand the wired broadband infrastructure and to close the digital divide among CLMV countries. IXPs are essential to providing efficient interconnection between carriers and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in CLMV countries. Following the completion of the recent study, the workshop is proposed to review the findings of the study, raise awareness of the identified benefits and discuss its proposed implementation modality.