Many reports predict the Internet boom in the Asia Pacific will continue with strong growth in traffic, devices and users. By 2019, the region will have the most Internet traffic from mobile devices in the world. Another report on Pacific Island nations says recent submarine cable installations have resulted in an explosion of capacity. Across the Pacific, international Internet bandwidth jumped more than 1,500% between 2007 and 2014, rising from fewer than 100 Mbit/s to over 1 Gbit/s.
But those who travel the region know the availability, stability, speed, and security of Internet services vary widely from place to place. Users in some developing economies tolerate conditions that are unacceptable in the developed world, and which will seriously limit the benefits that the Internet can deliver.
The Human Challenge
The single biggest factor affecting the Internet’s success is the capacity of service providers to properly build and manage their networks. For a secure, reliable and efficient Internet infrastructure, the businesses, managers and engineers responsible must all all have the skills to properly do their jobs. While providing reliable services which are available “24x7”, businesses must plan and manage rapid growth, deal with growing security challenges, and adapt to new technologies such as IPv6 – while often operating in a competitive environment.
A report from technology analysts, IDC, warns of a shortage of such technical skills saying:
“The Asia Pacific trends show an increasing need for people with network skills in emerging technologies and for well-trained teams that focus on higher value-added activities”.
The IDC report estimated that at the end of 2012 there was a shortage of just over 250,000 professionals with networking skills in the region (excluding Greater China and Japan). It predicts this shortage will grow to more than 450,000 networking professionals by the end of 2016 and from there, continue to worsen.
The Technical Challenge
Meanwhile, the region is facing a growing list of technical challenges including:
- The transition to IPv6: With IPv4 resources all but exhausted globally, IPv6 is the only viable option for the Internet’s future growth in the Asia Pacific region.
- Improved security: From DDoS attacks to hacking, malware and how to safely manage information in the cloud; security remains the top priority of network engineers and administrators around the region.
- Stability and scalability: Having reached the “first billion” users in the booming cities of the Asia Pacific, networks are now reaching across the digital divide to the region’s remotest communities on a large scale.
- Efficiency and cost: Wherever they are, networks must always be efficient; whether they are connecting small, remote communities at the lowest possible cost or delivering services cheaply and efficiently to millions of users in the largest cities.
- Localization: Networks need to localize. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) allow local content to stay local, lowering network costs, and increasing speed and efficiency
- Regulation: The Internet’s success is based on a unique model of consensus-driven and accessible processes. It is an inclusive, multistakeholder community using standards that are freely available to build on. It’s important that regulation does not unexpectedly restrict or damage this model.
- Research: With the Internet’s rapid growth and improving technologies, we need research that will help us understand where the problems are; where they will be in the future; and what we need to do to fix them.