IPv6 Open Internet Standards

Landmark IPv6 Report Published: State of Deployment 2017

On the fifth anniversary of World IPv6 Launch, we’re excited to share a detailed report on the State of IPv6 Deployment in 2017. It really is staggering how far IPv6 deployment has progressed in five years. In mid-2012, Google measured less than 1% of users accessing their services over IPv6. Today that figure is getting close to 20%. Since World IPv6 Launch, several major operators are now delivering the majority of traffic from major content sources like Google, Akamai and others over IPv6. Individual operators, like T-Mobile USA, have deployed IPv6-only networks for their subscribers.

Six years ago, the Internet Society helped to organize World IPv6 Day, where thousands of ISPs and websites joined together for a successful, global-scale, 24-hour trial of IPv6. A year later, for World IPv6 Launch, major ISPs, home networking equipment manufacturers, and web companies around the world permanently enabled IPv6 for their products and services.

report cover imageHow much progress have we made in the five years since World IPv6 Launch? All the details are included in our landmark report marking the launchiversary. While you download the report and check out our other IPv6 materials, here are the highlights:

  • IPv6 has increased 3000% since the beginning of World IPv6 Launch five years ago.
  • Deployment is occurring around the globe: Measurements show 37 countries exceed 5% of traffic is IPv6 to major content providers.
  • Over 25% of the Alexa Top 1000 websites are reachable using IPv6.
  • Some networks are now IPv6-only internally (e.g. JPNE, T-Mobile USA, SoftBank), and some major networks are now majority-IPv6 (e.g. RelianceJIO, Verizon Wireless, SkyBroadcasting, XS4ALL).
  • Some organizations are in the process of turning off IPv4 within their networks and/or data centers to reduce network complexity and cost (e.g. T-Mobile, Facebook, LinkedIn).
  • The Internet Society’s core recommendations are to: (a) start now if you haven’t already, (b) use established RFP requirements like RIPE-554: Requirements for IPv6 in ICT Equipment, and (c) take advantage of existing IPv6 deployment information including the Internet Society’s Deploy360 Program.

IPv6 use is set to continue growing for the rest of this year and beyond as more operators start and grow their deployments around the world, and new content and hosting providers enable IPv6 for their customers. As we mark this milestone in IPv6 deployment history with this new landmark report, we wish all our readers a Happy Launchiversary!

Development Human Rights

Internet Shutdowns Are Not a Solution to Africa’s Challenges

Africa has made considerable gains with regards to the Internet in the last decades. It’s Internet penetration grew by more than 400%; its international bandwidth has been multiplied by 20 just in just 5 years between 2009 and 2014; during the same period Africa’s terrestrial backbone has doubled (Internet Society, Internet Development and Internet Governance in Africa, 2015). This achievement required considerable private and public investment and brought hope for Africans, particularly its youth.

Africa and the developing world are already collecting the dividends of its investment. For example, Kenya’s Internet economy is representing 3.6% of its GDP. More interestingly, a staggering 1.3% of the GDP growth in developing countries comes from the Internet economy (World Bank 2016 Digital Dividends, page 55). At the Regional Internet Development Dialogue held in Kigali on May 8 and 9, 2017, representatives of development organizations such as UNESCO, UNECA, and Smart Africa expressed their great hope that the Internet will contribute to help meet all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

However, all these hopes might be dashed by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns in Africa and the developing world in general. Just in 2016, there were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world, most of them in developing countries. These shutdowns affect individuals and organizations that depend on the Internet for their daily lives. At the “Keep it on” workshop in Nairobi at the African Internet Summit, around 30 young participants listed the reasonswhy no one should shut down the Internet and there were many.

Credit: Mwendwa Kivuva‏ on Twitter

The issue of Internet shutdown dominated this year’s African Internet Summit. In particular, one proposal submitted by three members of the AFRINIC community raised considerable discussions. The proposal recommended taking away IP numbers from governments that shutdown the Internet in their countries. For those who are not familiar with AFRINIC’s process, I would like to note that any individual member of AFRINIC can submit a policy proposal. I would also like to note that even if most members of the community are against Internet shutdowns, the proposal has not been supported by the community and in fact there were an unprecedented number of people who raised their voice against it, during the public discussions. And, I am confident that this proposal will never be adopted as an AFRINIC proposal.

In order to dissipate any confusion, at the closing of the African Internet Summit, the African Internet Technical organizations often referred as Af* (AFRINIC, AFTLD, AFNOG, AFREN, Africa CERT, and ISOC Africa) issued a statement distancing themselves from the proposal and in fact expressing their concern that such a proposal will be counterproductive.

So why did the Internet community refute such a proposal that is supposed to fight shutdowns?

  • such a proposal would be difficult to implement even if adopted
  • this proposal might antagonize governments at a time when we should work more with them
  • the proposal might also impact citizens’ ability to access the Internet

The Internet Society believes that the Internet community should work with governments to help them solve some of their legitimate concerns such as the use of the Internet for terrorism, exam cheating, and violence without the need to shut down the Internet. The Internet is the hope of many Africans, and more particularly its youth, and we should all work so that it is available for them all the time to create a better future for them and for Africa.

Read more:

Image credit: Marcin Wichary on Flickr CC BY 2.0

Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Privacy Reports Women in Tech

My personal highlights of 2016 for the Asia-Pacific Bureau and what’s coming up in 2017

The year 2016 was indeed a successful year for the Internet Society (ISOC) Asia-Pacific (APAC) Team. We were able to leverage many opportunities throughout the year across the region, and together with our members, chapters and partners, we worked towards ensuring that the Internet kept growing and evolving.

For me personally, there were a couple of things that stood out. One was InterCommunity 2016 where we had 11 nodes located throughout the region engaged in robust intra-regional discussions on topical issues.

Another was ISOC’s first Regional Internet and Development Dialogue that brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss Internet development issues. At the event, we were able to bring the gender perspective into discussions, and the regional gender and ICT workshop we convened just prior was a valuable initiative that helped shape some of the outcomes.

In November, Kathy and I had the opportunity to visit one of the Wireless for Communities (W4C) sites in Tilonia, India. We observed first-hand the transformative nature of the Internet and what it can do for people at the local community level. The visit was a very fulfilling experience that left us even more committed to connect the unconnected.

So here we are, well into 2017, and its certainly shaping up to be a busy year regionally and globally.

On the policy front, we have WTDC scheduled in Argentina in Q4 that will consider a range of development-related issues as they apply to Telecom/ICTs and the Internet. Linked to that will be a number of regional preparatory meetings that we will be closely following in APAC. The first of these took place in Papua New Guinea in February, and the ITU Regional Preparatory Meeting was held in Bali late last month.

Also in Q4, India will host the next edition of the Global Conference on Cyberspace. The Asia-Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF) will be held in Bangkok in July, and there will be a sprinkling of regional inter-governmental meetings throughout the year organised by APT and others covering cybersecurity, access, development and ICT-related issues.

On the technical front, APRICOT was held in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam in late February, and we are happy to have again supported its fellowship programme. This year we further reinforced our focus on gender, with two-thirds of ISOC fellows at the event being women from developing countries. You can read more about our activities in and around APRICOT in this blog post.

In November, Singapore will host the 100th meeting of the IETF, and we hope that can be further encouragement for participation from Southeast Asia in the IETF. Our IETF Outreach initiative in 2016 was focused on Southeast Asia, and this year we are focusing on South Asia with the programme already underway in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Towards the end of 2016, we added a new team member in APAC focused on technical engagement – Aftab Siddiqui. He will be working on deepening our engagement with the regional technical community. In March, we held a very useful bilateral meeting with APNIC so that we can better coordinate and collaborate on technical activities in the region.

In line with ISOC’s 2017 Action Plan, our regional programmes this year will focus on Trust- and Access-related issues that enable economic, social and human development. The year 2017 is also our 25th anniversary, and we intend to highlight this milestone throughout the year. You can read more about some of the planned activities here.

The fourth edition of our regional policy survey, which will close today, has thus far elicited close to 2,100 responses from participants in 39 economies across the region. Please consider responding to that and share your views on regional Internet issues. You can read the findings from the 2016 survey here and participate in the 2017 survey here.

We are looking at convening a series of workshops on online privacy issues and how that impacts on trust and confidence in the Internet; as well as a couple on digital accessibility following our work in Pakistan on the topic in 2016. The first accessibility workshop was held in Sri Lanka last month, and the first privacy workshop is scheduled for Vanuatu in May.

We also expect to organise a couple of editions of our highly regarded Asia Internet Symposium series that have helped provide a forum to discuss Internet issues of local importance.

InterCommunity 2017 is scheduled for the 19th of September, and will include the presentation of a new class of Internet Hall of Fame inductees and the 25 under 25 who are using the Internet to make a significant impact on society. We hope you can be part of one of our regional nodes – or join us online – as we celebrate 25 years of the Internet Society.

We are also pleased to present our ‘2016: The Year That Was Report‘ that provides a snapshot of what we did over the course of 2016. The report includes some activities as reported by our chapters in the region.

To keep up-to-date with where we are and what we are doing throughout the year, please follow us on Twitter @ISOCapac, connect with us on Facebook and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Beyond the Net Community Projects Growing the Internet

Zenzeleni – Do it Yourself! – How a rural community in South Africa became a telecommunication operator.

Mankosi, in the Eastern Cape Province, is one of South Africa’s most economically disadvantaged communities. Most of the 3,500 residents live on less than $2 per day. In spite of this, residents spend an average of 22 percent of their income on the ability to connect and communicate. Unfortunately, less than a quarter of residents are online in any given month. Mankosi needed an alternative to expensive, spotty service. Zenzeleni Network was set up in 2012 to provide voice service to the community, using analog phones connected to WiFi routers and Voice over IP (VoIP) technology.

Now, the Internet Society’s South Africa Gauteng Chapter and the University of Western Cape, supported by ISOC’s Beyond the Net Funding Programme, are assisting Zenzeleni Networks to upgrade the system in order to create a powerful and stable network, helping to get more people online. The programme also will provide computer labs in Mankosi’s primary and secondary schools and computer literacy training for teachers. The goal is to get people online for a fraction of what it currently costs to connect, and turn Zenzeleni into a model for community-owned telecommunications companies. On March 2017, Zenzeleni Networks was selected as a semifinalist of the Mozilla’s Equal Rating competition, recognizing the potential of  this amazing “community network” as a viable alternate way to communicate.

Carlos Rey-Moreno, senior researcher at the University of the Western Cape and project manager, talks about his experience in this fascinating project:

“If I had to explain what I do, I would say that I’m a telecommunications activist. I try to bring forward the voice of those that are underserved by communications operators and communications ecosystems. I came to rural areas of South Africa about five years ago, and I tried to understand the way people here communicate and how they communicate. When I first got here, I did quite a lot research on how much money people spend on communications, and how they communicate. One of the things I found was that people here still spend a lot of money on telephone calls. In rural South Africa, families are very disrupted because people have to migrate, particularly the men in the family. They go off to work in the mines and the large farms near Cape Town, and their families want to be in touch. As a result, households are spending, on average, 22 percent of their disposable income on communications. Community networks like Zenzeleni are crucial to cut these costs.

Zenzeleni is a partnership between the University of the Western Cape, where I’m a post-doctoral fellow, and Mankosi, the community I work in. Everything we do is based on what the people in Mankosi want to do. We have a cooperative board that sets the agenda.

Initially, we were focused on VoIP calling. That seemed to be the most logical way to help bring down people’s communication costs. It didn’t require a lot of bandwidth, and it fit under the existing regulatory framework. So, we set up a MESH potato network (Steve Song is the creator of MESH potato and you can find a link here to Steve and MESH potato), that allowed analog phones to work via a VoIP network. We had the tribal local authorities select some people to be in charge of the phones. They had to select 10 houses that “see” at least three other houses, and that have people who were at home to help for security reasons.

That VoIP project got a little bit of momentum behind it, but it didn’t catch on like we’d hoped. The people in those houses used the phones and some neighbors used the phones, but mostly people kept using their mobile devices. Changing the consumer dynamics of people in rural areas is very difficult. Change takes time. They like to stick to what they know works.

What did catch people’s attention, though, was the fact that the MESH potatoes were solar powered, and that those solar panels were producing excess electricity. So, people asked if we could use that power for a mobile charging station, so it suddenly cost half as much money for people to charge their phones. This changed the way people used their phones, and how much money people had left over.

Now, we’re also looking at setting up our own local mobile network using unlicensed GSM spectrum, similar to what Rhizomatica has done in Mexico. The next project for Zenzeleni is setting up backhaul to a fibre network in the nearest city. We’re making that happen with a series of wireless relay towers. The elders and leadership here in Mankosi are really eager to get a proper, reliable, affordable Internet connection. The plan is to set up computer labs in the primary and secondary schools, to have a community WiFi network that people who have WiFi enabled phones can use for free, and we’re getting some old personal computers (PCs) donated to set up access points for people who don’t have smart phones. The people that are running the cooperative are very much interested in the education of the youngsters. They are doing this to open up opportunities for the next generation.

Zenzeleni is really a community network in the truest sense of the word. Our cooperative board set the priorities, they set the rates for things like mobile charging. We just try to help them make it happen. We’ve already done some cool things here, but once we get this fibre backhaul, I think there are amazing things that are going to happen. It’s all about giving opportunities. When you give people opportunities to explore, with a little bit of money, or a little bit of bandwidth, or a little bit of spare electric energy generated by the solar systems, people do amazing stuff.”

We wondered how the Zenzeleni project would benefit ISOC’s Gauteng Chapter. This is the truly comprehensive answer of the former President, Gabriel Ramokotjo.

“The success of the project will contribute immensely to the development of the Chapter. The Chapter will grow its membership beyond the province of Gauteng in South Africa, and also will attract the interest of the Youth in the rural areas. The first phase of the project has already received positive coverage from the Media, which has led to partnerships with the University of the Western Cape and the Right 2 Know Campaign. There’s no doubt of the benefits that the Chapter will derive from the project, such as forging and strengthening collaborative partnerships with academic, civil societies, and the private sector. Even more important, the project is aligned with the goal of our Government National Development Plan: to have all South Africans connected and using the Internet by the year 2020. With the support of the Internet Society, it’s a new opportunity also to create closer collaboration with our Government on policy and technical issues affecting the Internet in our country.”

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

How to apply Beyond the Net

Find out more about the programme 

Domain Name System (DNS) Growing the Internet Internet Governance Internet of Things (IoT) Public Policy

The Internet of square brackets

The World Telecommunication Standards Assembly (WTSA-16) has entered its final week, and a few Internet-related issues have proven to be particularly challenging for delegates to come to an agreement on – the Digital Object Architecture (DOA), protections for territorial names in generic top-level domains (GTLDs), and the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).

It has become clear that some member states want to see recognition of the DOA and its related Handle System™ in the work of the ITU-T. After all, it has been referenced in no less than 10 resolutions. However, its inclusion has been the subject of significant debates in the ad hoc groups over the weekend.

As the negotiations on the text of the resolutions went into high gear (fueled by countless cups of Tunisian coffee – these negotiations went well into the night), some member states presented the DOA as a secure, stable and effective solution for a variety of applications, including combating counterfeit devices and as a digital management tool for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Others have challenged the explicit inclusion of the DOA in proposals. They say it contradicts the historic technology-neutral position of the ITU. They also raised issues of copyright, patent and licensing related to the technology. By Monday morning, the majority of references to the DOA and the Handle System™ were in square brackets, meaning the ad hoc groups could not come to an agreement for their inclusion. On Monday, these resolutions will go the ITU Working Group 4A for further discussion.  

The Internet Society’s delegation has also been closely following a proposal to expand the mandate of the work related to Resolution 47 to include the study of the protection of territorial names in generic top-level domains (GTLDs). Resolution 47 was adopted in 2012 to allow member states to share information about their respective country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), and its expansion has proven to be rather contentious.

In fact, there is also a submission on the table to suppress Resolution 47, along with its proposed amendments. Those opposed to this proposal see issues related to TLDs out-of-scope for the ITU; they see it as something to be addressed within ICANN. Others claim the issue of territorial names protection as an intellectual property one. Therefore, they argue, there are other fora where IP-related issues are resolved, such as the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

This is a complex issue, with broad-reaching implications. By Sunday, no agreement had been made in the ad hoc group discussing it. The text will also go to Working Group 4A Monday morning for continued discussion, as will the resolution to suppress it.

The ITU is about to embark on a review of the ITRs, so it was not unexpected that they would be discussed here in Hammamet (it’s worth noting that a meeting to discuss the ITRs that was scheduled for 30 minutes lasted two hours). Some member states would like to see the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) and the ITU-T study groups (SGs) be able to provide input into the ITR review, not just member states and sector members. This approach has become a point of debate – other member states oppose the inclusion of the TSB and SGs, arguing that input from member states and sector members will be both sufficient and extensive. Again, this is an issue that had not been resolved by Monday morning, though informal consultations will continue.

It’s unclear what the outcome of these Internet-related issues will be, but with three days left I can say with confidence that the late night discussions will continue.

Building Trust Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) Improving Technical Security IPv6 Open Internet Standards

Calling All Network Researchers – Call for Papers Opens for Applied Networking Research Workshop

We’re excited to announce the inaugural Applied Networking Research Workshop (ANRW) 2016, which will take place in Berlin on July 16. This one-day workshop will be co-sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Internet Society and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF).

This academic workshop will provide a forum for researchers, vendors, network operators and the Internet standards community to present and discuss emerging results in applied networking research. Accepted papers will be published in the ACM Digital Library.

The ANRW ’16 particularly encourages the submission of results that could form the basis for future engineering work in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), that could change operational Internet practices, that can help better specify Internet protocols, or that could influence further research and experimentation in the IRTF.

If you have some relevant work and would like to join us in Berlin for the workshop and potentially stay for the IETF 96 meeting that takes place in the following week, the submission deadline is May 16th.

The full Call for Papers includes detailed paper submission and formatting instructions.

I hope to see you in Berlin for what promises to be a very interesting workshop and a good warm-up for the IETF and IRTF meetings to follow.

[Photo Credit:]
IETF Internet Governance Open Internet Standards

Registration Open for the IETF 95 Briefing Panel – Public Policy and Internet Technology Development

We are happy to announce that registration is now open for the Internet Society Briefing Panel at IETF 95, entitled: “Public Policy and Internet Technology Development.” The panel takes place during lunch on Tuesday, 5 April, at the Hilton Buenos Aires.

Due to high demand for limited seating, pre-registration is required to attend the Briefing Panel in person. Registration opens today (29 March) in two blocks at 09:00 and 21:00 UTC for global time zone fairness.

This event will be recorded and webcast live on the ISOCtech YouTube Channel. Watch the Internet Technology Matters blog or the session information page for information about remote participation and archive details. Registration is NOT required for remote participation.

Session Abstract

The Internet Society has been bringing policy makers to IETF meetings for several years to experience the IETF meeting week first-hand and to learn from IETF experts about the technologies and standardisation processes that drive the IETF. Simultaneously, public policy makers have been directly involved in IETF projects like ECRIT and PAWS. The worlds of Internet technology standardisation and public policy development are drawing closer together.

When Internet technology is developed and standardised, the protagonists often move on to new projects while deployment proceeds in environments more diverse and heterogenous than any under consideration during the development phase. Because Internet technology has a real impact on people, their public representatives are increasingly taking an interest in the IETF as one source of this technology.

In this panel session we will identify the important issues for Internet public policy makers generally and the Latin American region in particular. We will discuss the relevance of the IETF to their work. In particular we will address the following questions:

  • What are the high priority issues for Internet policy makers today?
  • Why are policy makers interested in the work of the IETF?
  • Where does the work of the IETF and Public Policy intersect?
  • What could/should be done to improve two-way dialogue between technologists and public policy officials?

Join Us!

We hope you will join us, either in person or remotely, during IETF as we discuss the intersection of public policy and Internet technology development.

Register today!

Development IETF Internet Governance Open Internet Standards

Announcing ISOC@IETF 95 Briefing Panel – Public Policy & Internet Technology Development

What are the high priority issues for Internet policymakers today? Where does the work of the IETF and Public Policy intersect? What could/should be done to improve two-way dialogue between technologists and public policy officials? These are some of the questions we’ll discuss during the Internet Society Briefing Panel at IETF 95, entitled: “ Public Policy and Internet Technology Development.” The panel takes place during lunch on Tuesday, 5 April, at the Hilton Buenos Aires.

Session Abstract

The Internet Society has been bringing policy makers to IETF meetings for several years to experience the IETF meeting week first-hand and to learn from IETF experts about the technologies and standardisation processes that drive the IETF. Simultaneously, public policy makers have been directly involved in IETF projects like ECRIT and PAWS. The worlds of Internet technology standardisation and public policy development are drawing closer together.

When Internet technology is developed and standardised, the protagonists often move on to new projects while deployment proceeds in environments more diverse and heterogenous than any under consideration during the development phase. Because Internet technology has a real impact on people, their public representatives are increasingly taking an interest in the IETF as one source of this technology.

In this panel session we will identify the important issues for Internet public policy makers generally and the Latin American region in particular. We will discuss the relevance of the IETF to their work. In particular we will address the following questions:

  • What are the high priority issues for Internet policy makers today?
  • Why are policy makers interested in the work of the IETF?
  • Where does the work of the IETF and Public Policy intersect?
  • What could/should be done to improve two-way dialogue between technologists and public policy officials?

Registration Information

Due to high demand for limited seating, pre-registration is required to attend the Briefing Panel in person. Registration will open on Tuesday, 29 March in two blocks at 09:00 and 21:00 UTC for global time zone fairness. Watch this blog or the session information page for the registration link on Tuesday.

Registration is NOT required for remote participation.


This event will be recorded and webcast live on the ISOCtech YouTube Channel. Watch the Internet Technology Matters blog or the session information page for information about remote participation and archive details.

Join Us!

We hope you will join us, either in person or remotely, during IETF as we discuss the intersection of public policy and Internet technology development. Register on Tuesday, 29 March, and join us on 5 April in Buenos Aires!

[Photo Credit:]
Growing the Internet Human Rights Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Privacy Public Policy

Internet Society’s New Policy Brief Series Provides Concise Information On Critical Internet Issues

Have you ever wanted to quickly find out information on key Internet policy issues from an Internet Society perspective?  Have you wished you could more easily understand topics such as net neutrality or Internet privacy?

This year, the Internet Society has taken on a number of initiatives to help fill a need identified by our community to make Internet Governance easier to understand and to have more information available that can be used to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about key Internet issues.

On 28 September, we announced one effort — a partnership with the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) for an online web site called GIP Digital Watch, which provides a neutral resource for policy leaders and other Internet policy participants to make better informed decisions and to navigate through the complex field of digital politics.

Today, we are pleased to announce another effort – a new series of Internet Society policy briefing papers, now available at The series is being launched with papers on ten topics:

  • Botnets
  • The Internet and Human Rights
  • Internet Governance
  • Internet Interconnection
  • Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)
  • Local Content
  • Network Neutrality
  • Open Internet Standards
  • Privacy on the Internet
  • The Challenge of Spam

As “briefing papers,” the aim has been to keep the overviews concise, while providing an Internet Society perspective, including the guiding principles we hold important in addressing various issues. Links to additional information and resources related to each topic are also provided.

The papers are currently available in English. Spanish and French versions are also being produced and will be announced and available soon.

Next week, you will also hear more from us about an opportunity for ISOC members to apply for a local curator role to help localize content on the Digital Watch platform, which we will also link to from our briefing papers.

We are pleased to offer these papers, along with the resources available through the GIP Digital Watch web platform, to help inform stakeholders about key Internet issues and guiding principles from the Internet Society in addressing them. We also hope they help fill the need our community identified for background and advocacy information on key Internet governance issues.

Please do visit the Internet Society’s new policy brief page and GIP Digital Watch and share the links and information as widely as possible.

We look forward to continuing to grow these and other resources on important Internet topics for our community and other stakeholders.

Development Economy Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

The Internet needs Africa as much as Africa needs the Internet – a speech to the African Union

Note: Today Sally Wentworth, our VP of Global Public Policy, gave the following speech at a meeting of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and Information Technologies (STC-CICT) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mr Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to address this important gathering of leaders from across Africa.  My name is Sally Wentworth and I am the Vice President of Global Public Policy at the Internet Society.   We are grateful for the long-standing partnership with the African Union and look forward to finding more ways to work with policymakers in the region strengthen Africa’s role in the global Information Society.  I am here today with Dawit Bekele, our Regional Bureau Director for Africa.  Dawit leads a dedicated team in Africa that has a long history of working hard to build connectivity throughout the continent.

The Internet Society is a global, non-profit organization dedicated to a vision that the Internet is for everyone.  Our organization has over 70,000 members and 110 chapters around the world, including 30 chapters here in Africa. We firmly believe that the value of the network grows as more people come online – our work in the technology and public policy spheres is focused on achieving that vision.

If I can leave you with one message as a result of my talk today, it is this:

The Internet needs Africa as much as Africa needs the Internet

There is a vibrant Internet ecosystem here in Africa.  Businesses are going online and finding new markets.  People are learning online and connecting in ways never before possible.  The region was once a spectator to global Internet development, watching from the fringes. Clearly, this is no longer true. Africa now sits at the forefront of Internet expansion and the continent is positioned to help drive the future of the global Internet.

We are pleased that the African Union is playing a key role in this regard through projects like AXIS and dot Africa and by spearheading the landmark African Cyber security convention.  Today’s meeting will make key steps in this meeting toward a comprehensive ICT strategy that supports the 2063 Agenda.   And next week, the AU is promoting the African Internet Governance Forum in Addis Ababa.

All this means that the African Union and its members are  key stakeholders in the regional and global Internet governance debate.

With the ten-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society, the international community is set to shape the next decade of Internet governance.

We were very pleased to see that the new UN Sustainable Development Goals include text that highlights the importance of ICTs and the need to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet.

In this regard, it’s encouraging to see some of the latest statistics which show a remarkable improvement in connectivity across the African continent – growing from around 7% of the population with Internet access in 2008 to over 20% with Internet access in 2015.  This is a remarkable upward trend.  But that still leaves 80% of the region’s population that needs access to the opportunities of the Internet.

And this is why Africa’s voice must be heard loud and clear.

Connecting the Next Billion” will be a central theme of the upcoming Internet Governance Forum or “IGF” in November in Brazil.  Case studies and success stories from your countries should help inform that discussion in the global IGF.

As we assess progress made over the past decade in implementing the WSIS targets, and think about the things that have driven connectivity growth in the region, it is clear that the cooperation and commitment of a range of stakeholders – policy makers, technologists, industry players, end users – was key.

Some refer to this inclusive governance model as the multistakeholder model. I prefer to call it “collaborative governance”.

  • It is the recognition that governments alone cannot determine the future of the Internet.
  • The network operators alone cannot determine the future of the Internet.
  • Nor can the Internet engineers or civil society.

We have to come together to solve the hard challenges of the information age.

It is critical that this spirit of collaborative governance be embraced by all those involved with the Internet  – because as much as there are many opportunities, there are also tough challenges.

Over the last few years, on an almost a weekly basis, we learn of massive data breaches which have exposed personal information about millions of users.  We’ve learned of very large-scale pervasive surveillance by both governments and intelligence agencies – and also by corporations and criminals. Cybersecurity has emerged as one of the most important issues we collectively face.

While these attacks and surveillance obviously have an effect on the people directly involved, they also have a larger and more disturbing effect.  These attacks weaken trust in the overall Internet as a system for communication and economic opportunity.

Instead of a narrative of opportunity people see a narrative of apprehension and fear.

This is among the most fundamental challenges we face in this age – how do we increase the level of trust in the systems that make up the Internet?

As I said before, it will take all of us.  Governments.  Industry.  Civil society. NGOs. Organizations like the Internet Society and the African Union.  Working together in a spirit of collaboration. Again, Africa’s participation is key to this success.

Let me leave you with these points:

Collaborative governance is how we build trust in Internet governance.
Collaborative security is how we build trust in the Internet’s infrastructure.

This is critical as we all work to bring the next 3 and 4 billion people online.  They should have the same “Internet of opportunity” that  the current generation enjoys.

In the end, it is this work together that will bring about an open, trusted Internet that will lead to greater connection, communication, collaboration, creativity and commerce all across Africa – and across the rest of the world.

We look forward to continuing to join with the African Union and all you in this room to bring about a truly global Information Society for the benefit of people worldwide.

Thank you.

Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Open Internet Standards Privacy

Asia-Pacific reaches out to a digital future

The future of the Internet was very much present at the 15th Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Policy and Regulatory Forum (APT PRF) in Singapore last week. Much of the conversation was around anticipated developments in mobile, touted to be the fastest adopted technology of all time and central to increased digital take-up in the region. The trend is easily tangible in economies like Japan, where ultrahigh-speed mobile broadband subscriptions had surpassed those of fixed line two years ago.

And this is only a hint of things to come. Gartner projects that the number of connected ‘things’ will go up to 25 billion by 2020 from 4.9 billion today–exceeding smartphones and PCs combined by nearly five times. Meanwhile, investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining traction outside the ICT industry, propelled by the promise that machine-to-machine communication brings—and it isn’t just cost savings and improved productivity: In the development sector, for instance, ubiquitous connectivity can help to address information gaps, which can be as much as four years for areas like education and child mortality.

The centre of attention at the PRF was 5G, which pundits say should be ready for commercial use by 2020. While the standards aren’t set yet, the mobile industry is aiming for it to have 1,000x the system capacity of LTE, with a latency of less than 1 millisecond and peak speeds of more than 10Gbps—30x that of 4G. Among other things, it will allow simultaneous connections with a wider range of devices, including sensor networks. 5G is also expected to be able to combine signals from multiple frequency bands, ranging from low VHF-band to high millimeter-band —rather than relying on a single band—using spectrum more flexibly depending on location, time, and application, thus enabling more stable connectivity.

The potential gains of this dynamism are not lost on Asia-Pacific. Many countries have responded with a flurry of rules and frameworks to facilitate the growth of a digital economy. For instance Laos, which recently carried out an e-transaction law, is currently drafting infrastructure sharing and data pricing regulations. A number of countries are likewise in the process of freeing up more frequency bands to accommodate more advanced mobile and wireless technologies. But more forward-looking plans are needed. The Philippines’ upcoming provision on Internet service quality, for instance, defines broadband as a 256kbps connection rate, while Indonesia is aiming for a modest 1 Mbps mobile broadband speed for half of its rural population by 2019. Faster access beyond cities is crucial especially for countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh where at lest 60% of the population live in rural areas.

But emerging economies are also making headway in digital inclusion. Mobile financial services, which allows the unbanked to maintain savings accounts, avail of small loans, and purchase insurance, has grown rapidly in South Asia. Pakistan’s six year-old Easy Paisa for instance has a 15 million user base. Bangladesh, where the doctor to patient ratio is 1:15,000, has become a trailblazer for rural ehealth with programmes like Amader Daktar. The integrated ICT-based system includes ‘doctor in a tab,’ an app that allows rural patients to consult with and receive advice and prescriptions from Dhaka-based doctors with the help of a local health worker.

The importance of getting the fundamentals right could not be clearer in countries that have stayed ahead of the curve. Singapore, which expects to pilot self-driving cars and automated homes in 2016, has a nationwide high speed, optical fibre network and 87% broadband penetration as of 2014. The island state, which topped the World Economic Forum’s global Networked Readiness Index this year, was also among the first to publish a regulatory framework for TV white space use in wireless connectivity. Meanwhile South Korea has rolled out a ‘Cloud First’ policy for its public and private sectors alongside a legal framework promoting anonymisation technologies to address the rise in big data. By 2020, some 70% of mobile data traffic is expected to go through the cloud, necessitating more robust and effective data protection regimes.

At the meeting, the OECD identified competition, consumer protection, security, privacy and openness as essential ingredients to a digital economy. But to make the IoT era happen also requires networks, systems and devices that are low-cost and low-power, with enough capacity to accommodate richer content and more connections. For emerging countries in Asia-Pacific, preparing for the future also means going back to the basics: investing in policies and infrastructure to make fast, reliable and affordable Internet access possible for everyone.

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What you need to know about Internet in the Pacific

The Internet in the Pacific is going through some heavy changes. The region has gone from being covered by a single satellite a decade ago to having 10 of its countries, many of them in the South, going online via undersea cables. Indeed, more submarine fibre-optic cables are being deployed in the Pacific these days than in any other region in the world—a development that is driving capacity expansion in many of its island nations. The outcomes are evident in countries like Tonga, which witnessed a five-fold increase in its Internet use within six months of its first submarine cable becoming operational in 2013.

Investment in network infrastructure has for the large part been accompanied by slew of new measures and reforms, from telecoms sector liberalisation to national broadband policies. All these have resulted in stronger competition among operators and service providers, reduced Internet prices and an overall growth in Internet uptake, mainly in mobile broadband.

Such progress also means that Pacific countries do not have to look far for good models. Vanuatu, a frontrunner in the region, has a universal access policy that aims to equip 98% of the population with Internet access within three years, partly by enforcing geographically uniform pricing throughout its many islands. Using a pay-or-play approach for carriers and ISPs, it will also start to require its state ministries to allot 3%-5% of their budget for their own ICT programmes in line with its e-government agenda.

Fiji is another bright spot. After much of the Pacific moved to satellite-based communications, radio frequency management lapsed in many countries, leaving them at a disadvantage amidst the explosion of mobile technologies. From 2011-2013, Fiji overhauled its spectrum allocation scheme, ensuring that proper band planning, standards, and technical parameters are in place. Until then, it had no commercial pricing strategy and often bundled spectrum with operating licenses. It subsequently held a manual 4G spectrum auction, priced low enough to leave operators with sufficient capital for infrastructure roll outs. Winning comes with coverage obligations for 80%-95% of the population, but also with incentives, which includes 5%-40% licensing fee rebates should operators exceed these requirements. The impact was immediate: Mobile broadband subscriptions have risen 10-fold from 2011 to 2014, and 21 out of the 40 localities under the universal service programme are now being served by ISPs.

But there’s a lot more to be done. An estimated 40% of the population in the Pacific has yet to gain access to decent quality broadband. Despite a mobile penetration of 80% or more in countries like Vanuatu, mobile broadband adoption continues to be low, at 10% or less in many island states as of 2013 according to the ITU. Fixed broadband take-up is lower, with only New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Tuvalu and Palau having more than 5% of their total population on a wired connection.

Cost remains a big barrier to adoption. Data from Network Strategies show that in most island nations in the region, subscribers spend 10%-20% or more of their average monthly income on mobile data services—more than double the UN target of 5% or less. Mobile data is currently most affordable in Fiji and the Cook Islands, but it must also be noted that these countries have a higher average income relative to others.

As it stands, the region’s average broadband speed as of 2013 was 1Mbps—a big leap from the 256kbps average some seven years ago, but still far below the 4Mbps global benchmark—and certainly insufficient to develop and access high-bandwidth applications that can address socio-economic needs.

Those how have succeeded in laying down undersea pipes are now confronted with the challenge of onward connectivity: expanding both the coverage and capacity of their domestic networks. Many of the delegates at last week’s 8th APT Policy and Regulatory Forum for the Pacific spoke of connectivity gaps, particularly for the last mile, which has yet to match the international bandwidth made available by the cables. Such upgrades must be taken into account even in the early stages of cable deployment.

Network redundancy is also a growing focus, with second cables planned for Tahiti, Tonga, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. These should not only make Internet access more dependable, but also enable them to carry out ICT programmes in areas like education, agriculture and ecommerce. For instance, Samoa’s newest cable, set to go live in 2016, is expected to improve remote medical diagnosis in the islands—crucial for many Pacific countries that lack advanced healthcare facilities and often need to fly citizens abroad for treatment.

Others are dealing with more fundamental issues. Solomon Islands, along with Tuvalu, Tokelau, Kiribati and Nauru, continues to rely on connectivity via satellite. The nation of some half a million people has a 21% Internet penetration rate—almost exclusively through mobile–and 98% of it is in urban areas. It cites political, economic and even cultural barriers to further connectivity, among them confused licensing guidelines in the provinces, influence peddling among vendors, and disputes over customary land that could be used as cable landing points. The country’s rough topography also experiences high rainfall, which causes further latency for transmission via satellite.

Many of the smaller Pacific nations have yet to secure adequate supporting infrastructure, such as roads and reliable power, which dissuades private sector investment. Yet another deterrent is the absence of comprehensive ICT frameworks. Guarantees for online privacy and data protection are missing in most countries, and while nearly all have national ICT policies in place, only two have implemented them.  ICT readiness and security are likewise piecemeal. To date, much of the region has yet to transition to IPv6. Its Computer Emergency Response Team, PacCERT, is currently on hiatus, and only four countries thus far are working towards setting up national CERTs.

From the discussions at last week’s Pacific ICT Ministerial and Officials’ Meeting in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, it is clear that Pacific island nations continue to suffer from a dearth in resources. While multilaterals like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have been backing projects in the region, not all countries are currently eligible for funding, and others face difficulties in meeting donor conditions. Local expertise is another constraint. Governments at the conference underlined the need to cultivate not only digital literacy and technical know-how, but the skills—legal, financial, entrepreneurial–necessary to build up and maintain ICT systems.

The Pacific Regional ICT Strategic Action Plan (PRISAP) provides a glimpse of the region’s priorities for the next five years. Set to succeed the 2010 Framework for Action for ICT Development in the Pacific, it is currently under review by member countries and should be finalised in time for its implementation in 2016. The framework, whose target areas range from basic concerns like institutional capacity-building to more forward-looking ones like ICTs for disaster management, perhaps sums up Internet development in the Pacific as a whole—varied and uneven in places, but grounded on common concerns, indicating that the region, while it may easily be seen as a homogenous landscape, is really home to 22 nation states whose needs are just as diverse as any in the world.

Photo credit: Nguna Mamas