Report on the Expert Consultation on the Asian Information
Superhighway and Regional Connectivity
24 and 25 September 2013
The Heritage Hotel, Manila, Philippines

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), co-organized a two-day Expert Consultation on the “Asian Information Superhighway and Regional Connectivity” held on24 & 25 September 20L3 at The Heritage Hotel Manila.

 

OBJECTIVES OF THE CONSULTATION:

  1. to identify choke points and dark spots in sub-regional, regional and international connectivity, assess related investment opportunities and financing options;
  2. to review the fiber optic backbone networks regional map that ESCAP and ITU have jointly developed and propose activities for Phase II of map development; and
  3. to agree on a roadmap for the Asian information superhighway initiative, including terms of reference for a working group that will be tasked with drafting a. intergovernmental cooperation arrangement as contained in ESCAP Resolution 69110.

There were thirty-three (33) participants from seventeen (17) countries who are ICT experts of government ministries/agencies, telecom regulators of ESCAP member countries, specialized agencies and related organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), the US Embassy in the Philippines and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Local delegates from the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO), the Philippine Society of the Information Technology Educators (PSITE) and the Philippine Computer Society (PCS) also participated in the consultation. Discussions were held in plenary with each session having focal discussion on the assigned topic to strategically achieve the purpose of the Consultation:

Session I: Broadband Infrastructure in ASEAN: Status, choke points, missing links and future needs
Session II: ESCAP-ITU Map of the Asian Information Superhighway
Session III: Regional Connectivity Case Studies
Session IV: The Way Forward: Asian lnformation Superhighway Initiative

Towards the end of the last technical session, Ms. Tiziana Bonapace, Chief of the Sectiory ICT and Development, ESCAP presented a proposed action plan and a 25- point “Draft of Recommendations and Conclusions”. She enjoined all participants to send their comments on-line after the consultation so that the Project team shall be guided

The successful hosting of the Consultation was attributed to the technical assistance extended by the UNESCAP in facilitating the active participation of experts, speakers, resource persons and panel discussants from different countries and specialized organizations as well as the full support and cooperation of the local ICT industry, academe, and the civil society.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS/PLAN OF ACTIONS:

  1. The experts recommended that ESCAP promotes the concept of the Asian Information Superhighway among member States and other stakeholders.
  2. The experts further recommended that ESCAP promotes the integration of existing and new bilateral terrestrial and undersea cable segments into regional networks. The experts also acknowledged that the Asian Information Superhighway initiative requires further study, including a detailed cost-benefit analysis.
  3. The experts requested the ESCAP Secretariat to initiate the second phase of the Asian Information Superhighway project by undertaking the following activities:
    • Expand the analytical study to Central Asia South Asia and East Asia;
    • Obtain detailed information about the physical capacity of existing fiber networks, including the international bandwidth capacity, length of networks, and main standards for transmission;
    • Enhance the map of the Asian Information Superhighway to include information about the tariff for IP transit, final destination of transit, projected demand capacity, and content by language;
    • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the future deployment of fiber optic networks;
    • Develop the analytical base for an intergovernmental agreement that sets out common principles and norms for future network development.
  4. Experts were of the view that ESCAP is ideally positioned to take this initiative forward. It is the sole inter-governmental forum that spanned the entire Asian region and is dedicated to the public good of equitable access for all and it embodied neutrality on the political, technological and industrial fronts.
  5. The experts requested the ESCAP Secretariat, through the Chairman of the Committee on ICT, to set up a Working Group on seamless regional connectivity. The role of the Working Group would be to bring together government experts on ICT infrastructure and regulators, with the objective of drafting an intergovernmental framework agreement on principles and norms for future development of a Pan-Asian terrestrial fiber-optic network. The Working Group would also work with UN system partners, notably ITU, and it would tap into expert analysis provided by research companies and regional institutions such as LIRNEasia that had similar objectives. Subsequently, the Working Group would also tap into existing regional transport and infrastructure initiatives where possible, representation of the private sector was strongly recommended in a sequential manner. In addition, the experts provided guidance of the future development of the Asian Information Superhighway, including the following key features of a Pan-Asian terrestrial network.
  6. Furthermore, the experts requested the Secretariat to update the ESCAP-ITU map of the Asian Information Superhighway through the end of 2013 and beyond, and to convene the Fourth Session of the Committee on ICT no later than the second quarter of 2014. Le this regard, the experts requested all member States to actively participate in the validation of network information currently contained in the map, and to provide corrections and additions as
    neccessary.
  7. The experts also requested that the member States conduct a thorough review of the study of broadband infrastructure in the ASEAN sub-region, and provide additional country-specific context and improvements as appropriate. The study provides a firm analytical basis for a pan-Asian terrestrial network, however further refinement of the design and eventual implementation of the concept will require critical input and participation from member States. The experts expressed their interest in the TASIM project and supported the proposal of the delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, whereby ESCAP would consider the possibility of joining EuraCA as a stakeholder representing Asia and the Pacific. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recommended that ESCAP deliver a presentation of the concept of the Asian Information superhighway to key stakeholders within ADB, as a key partner in developing regional support for the initiative.