John Chand, a former Senior Engineer ISP at Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL), has big ideas for Fiji’s growing Internet.
“I have been working on IPv6 deployment and DNSSEC work for TFL, as well as four other pet projects: hosting an instance of the L-Root server in TFL, forming an ISP association in Fiji, establishing a CERT and setting up an IXP,” John says.
John knows that bringing all these projects to fruition will take a lot of hard work, but he’s witnessed vast improvements in Fiji’s Internet during the past decades.
Before leaving in March to complete his studies and become an ICT consultant, John worked for TFL for more than 12 years, and in that time he was heavily involved in bringing the Internet to the people of Fiji.
TFL is one of the largest providers of fixed line communication and networking services in Fiji. The TFL network consists of 55 telephone exchanges throughout Fiji and Rotuma, connecting more than 101,000 customers. Telecom Fiji offers data networking solutions, managed services, co-location, cloud services and voice products.
When John started his degree — Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Electronics) from the University of the South Pacific in 2001 — Fiji had an Internet penetration of less than 2%. When he started work at Connect Internet Services (a subsidiary of TFL) in 2003, only around 6% of Fijians had access to the Internet.
“Internet usage in Fiji started to really increase in 2005 when TFL launched the first broadband network in Fiji; that was during my second year there. This growth has continued with 4G and WiFi – I was a part of the TFL team which built the biggest WiFi network currently in Fiji with over 200 Access Points,” he says.
Now around 420,000 Fijians (46% of the population) have access to the Internet.
Fiji’s performance in delivering Internet services and infrastructure to its citizens has been remarkable given the dual challenges of geography and population size. In the ITU’s 2012 annual review of the delivery of ICT infrastructure and services, Fiji tied for the third largest improvement (among 150 economies measured). The ITU attributed Fiji’s high ranking to strong growth in mobile-broadband penetration; extension of 3G coverage; the development of Fiji’s – and the Pacific’s – first national broadband plan; a commitment to making Internet access affordable; and the expansion of e-Government services.
John now wants to help Fiji take further steps to build its Internet capabilities.
“Root servers are important for stability and resiliency of the Internet. Having multiple servers distributed around the world provides high-performance DNS lookup, independent of the user’s location, as the request does not have to be dealt with by a single remote instance of the nameserver,” he says.
“Forming an ISP committee or association in Fiji is another project I am working on. It is important to harness the collective voice of the ISP fraternity and the entire Internet community so ISPs can set up and grow their services in an environment that is supportive and enabling.
“I’m also working on establishing a CERT – Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-Fj) to prevent and respond to cyber-attacks in Fiji, and enhance security awareness among Fiji Internet users.
“Finally, I’d like to setup an Internet Exchange (IXP) in Fiji to improve the quality of service by avoiding multiple international hops and reducing latency, and enrich Fiji’s Internet ecosystem.”
John credits his time spent attending global technical community meetings (via fellowships) with helping him gain a new perspective on advancing the Internet.
“Between November 2015 and November 2016, I attended IETF 94 in Japan, APRICOT 2016 in New Zealand, and ICANN 55 in Morocco and ICANN 57 in India as a fellow. Attending these meetings gives me the chance to learn, to connect, and become a representative from a developing country to share my experiences working for an ISP in Fiji,” he says.
“Attending the fellowships was an eye-opener for me. There is so much more out there: more knowledge, more people, more skills and expertise. I met many people working hard to make the Internet secure, stable and open for everyone to use. They volunteer their time to attend meetings and get involved in discussions that help make the Internet work without any issues. I have met so many experts and have made so many contacts who are always ready to help people like us from such a small Island nation.
“After attending these meetings I’ve seen that I have a unique perspective, different from people in Fiji and probably in the Pacific region; I have a picture of how things are done. The Internet is larger than the one network.
“There are so many people involved in the running of the Internet. It truly is a multistakeholder environment.”
When asked for his advice on how people in the Pacific can contribute, John has some concrete suggestions:
- Become a member of PICISOC and participate in the mailing list, which has more than 700 members
- Attend regional PacNOG workshops which are held twice a year in the Pacific
- Attend Internet workshops, meetings and webinars whenever you can (including remotely)
- Apply for fellowships and meeting support
- Participate and contribute to the work of APRALO to ensure the voices of the Pacific Island nations are heard in the process of developing Internet policies.
APNIC 44 fellowship applications will be open from 22 May 2017 – 7 June 2017. To find out more and make an application, visit the APNIC 44 website.
The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.