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A Brief History of the Internet in Asia
1. The Pre-Internet Period
The 1960s was the period that saw the birth of technologies and concepts
that were to become the foundation of the Internet. In 1960s, the concepts
of packet switching, which was to become the fundamental technology of the
Internet, were proposed.
During the period between the late 1960s and early 1970s, efforts to
construct domestic computer networks were launched in countries such as
France, UK, and USA. The most notable one is ARPANET(Advanced Research
Network) in USA in 1969.
In Asia, similar efforts to develop computer networks were launched in 1970s
and 1980s. They include CSIRONET and N-1 Network in Australia, and Japan,
2. Initial Regional Coordination
ANW-AP(Academic Networkshop - Asia Pacific)
(International) Academic Networkshop was one of the early coordination
meetings on the Internet globally, and had the first meeting in 1992. Asia
started participation to the meeting from 1983. The first Asian coordination
meeting, ANW-AP was held during the 1984 ANW, and Australia, Japan and Korea
participated the meeting.
In 1980s, there was much development of UUCP-based computer networks in Asia
as well as in other continents. These domestic UUCP networks in Asia were
linked internationally including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and
Singapore in 1983, and the international UUCP-based network in Asia was
called AsiaNet. They were used for email and news. AsiaNet was also linked
to North America(seismo, and hplabs) and Europe(mcvax).
PCCS(Pacific Computer Communications Symposium 1985)
In 1985, a conference focusing on computer networks, PCCS(Pacific Computer
Communications Symposium), which was one of the world's first conference to
address on the Internet, was held in Seoul, with approximately 300 Internet
experts participating from Asia, Europe and North America. Joint Network
Meeting was held during the Symposium with presentations of research and
education networks in Australia, Japan, and Korea as well as European
Other countries and economies such as China, Indonesia, Singapore, and
Taiwan participated the meeting, too.
In addition, the PCCS provided the impetus for the annual meeting of
JWCC(Joint Workshop on Computer Communications), a meeting of Asian computer
network experts was held annually with the meeting venue alternating between
Japan and Korea initially. The participants of the JWCC expanded gradually,
resulting in its development into ICOIN(International Conference on
3. Prolification of the Internet for Research and Education Community
The first Internet in Asia
Korea's first Internet with IPv4, SDN(System Development Network), began its
operation in 1982 with two nodes. The international link to USA was done
with UUCP since the direct international link with IP was not permitted in
USA. Other countries followed the development of IPv4-based computer
networks in 1980s and beyond.
With prolification of Unix machines(minicomputers, workstations, PCs) and
local area networks, the Internet became common among universities in mid to
late 1980s. The BSD(Berkeley Software Distribution) version of UNIX, which
includes TCP/IP protocols played a major role on the prolification of the
IP-based campus network then. Networking between universities were normally
handled by UUCP protocol, which was also readily available by mid-80s.
PACCOM(Pacific Communications Networking Project)
The direct international link with IP to USA was permitted later in the
decade. With PACCOM(Pacific Communications Networking) Project in 1989,
several countries connected to USA through Hawaii. They include Australia,
Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. Many other countries connected to the US
Internet in 1990s with their domestic Internet development.
Bitnet Asia, another computer network for research and education community
was developed in 1980s with the IBM network protocol to connect IBM
mainframe computers of central computer centers among Asian universities.
The network eventually changed its protocol to the Internet protocol in
1990s to fully connect to the Internet.
UUCP-based networks were extensively deployed in Asia starting from AsiaNet
in early 1980s. These networks also changed their protocols to the Internet
protocol in 1980s and 1990s as their traffic increased.
4. APNG, The First Regional Internet Group
CCIRN(Coordinating Committee for Inter-Continental Research Networking)
CCIRN(Coordinating Committee for Inter-Continental Research Networking) was
spawned from (International) Academic Networkshop to coordinate
international links between Europe and North America, and had its first
meeting in 1987.
Later, Asia was invited to participate, and APCCIRN was created to
coordinate CCIRN participation, and had its first meeting in 1991.
Since APCCIRN is the only coordinating body in Asia on the Internet then, it
ended up to it ended up to coordinate various matters on the Internet. The
first matter was the creation of the regional IP registry, APNIC, which was
formally started in 1993. Later, APCCIRN was renamed to APNG(Asia Pacific
(International) Academic Networkshop had its last annual meeting in
Australia in 1989. Its successor, INET had its first annual meeting in
Copenhagen in 1991, followed by Kobe in 1992, Many Asian participated INET
Conferences, and various coordination efforts took place during INET
5. APNIC, Regional IP Address Registry
Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) was created in 1993 as
the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for the Asia Pacific region.
APNIC and the other RIRs (RIPE NCC in Europe, ARIN in
North America, LACNIC in Latin America, and AfriNIC in Africa) are
responsible for the management of IP addresses, AS numbers, and
related resources in their respective regions.
6. APRICOT, Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies
Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational
was created by volunteers of APNIC, APNG, and others to provide a forum for
those key Internet builders in the region to learn from their peers and
leaders in the Internet community from around the world, and had its first
annual conference in 1996 in Singapore. APRICOT is managed by APIA, another
spinoff from APNG as APNG Commercial WG.
7. Regional Research and Education Networks
There were two new major initiatives in mid-1990s to develop regional
and education networks; APAN(Asia Pacific Network Consortium), and
AI3(Asia Internet Interconnection Initiative Project).
AI3 was kicked off in 1995 by WIDE Project and JSAT in Japan. It has been
operating a satellite based testbed network in South East Asia and producing
a series of research activities using the testbed. With its companion
called SOI-Asia(School of Internet-Asia), which is also based on the
over 10 countries in South and Southeast Asia are linked to provide precious
communication resources for research and education communities.
APEC Symposium was held in 1996 to discuss on gigabit networking among
The subsequent meeting on the gigabit networking at APII Testbed Forum in
1997 resulted in the formation of APAN. APAN Consortium addresses a
high-performance network for research and development on advanced next
generation applications and services.
8. APTLD, Regional Domain Name Coordination
International Forum on the White Paper(IFWP) was held around the world
in 1997-1998 to discuss on the creation of the international governance body
on the Internet domain names, IP registry, and the root servers among
and ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was created.
During these meetings, the consensus was developed to form a regional body
to address country-code top level domain names(ccTLD). APTLD was
in 1998 to work as the forum of information exchange regarding technological
and operational issues of domain names registries in Asia Pacific region.
9. AP* Retreat, Common for Information Exchange and Discussion
By late 1990s, there are many Internet-related organizations in Asia
and a common to exchange information among these organizations and discuss
the relevant issues became necessary. The fist meeting was held in 1998.
Since then, AP* Retreat was held during APRICOT in winter and APAN in summer
10. Internationalized Domain Names
The internationalization of the Internet became very important as the
became common in the world. In order to progress the Internet
internationalization, the Internationalized domain name(IDN) project was
started in Asia, and IETF decided to standardize on IDN in late 1990s.
Subsequently a set of the standards on IDN were completed in early 2000s.
During the period of IDN development, several organizations were created
to address IDN issues including MINC(Multilingual Internet Name Consortium),
CDNC(Chinese Domain Name Consortium), and JET(Joint Engineering Team) in
addition to INFITT, which addresses on Tamil Language and Arabic language
11. Governmental Initiatives
APEC(Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)
With creation of APEC(Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), various activities
related to the Internet were started. The most noteworthy activities
APEC Tel WG on telecommunications and EC SG on e-commerce. These groups
were created in 1990 and 1999 respectively.
UNDP(United Nations Development Programme)
The Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme(APDIP) is an initiative
the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) that aims to promote the
development and application of new information and communication
for poverty alleviation and sustainable human development in the
IDRC(International Development Research Centre)
PAN(Pan Asia Networking) is an IDRC program to seeks to understand the
and negative impacts of information communication technologies(ICTs) on
culture, the economy, and society, so as to strengthen ICT uses that promote
sustainable development on the Asian continent. IDRC renamed the above
program as PAN(Pan Asia Networking) in 2000.
11. Central, South and West Asia
The Internet came late to central, south, and west(middle east) Asia, but
many interesting activities were reported lately.
SANOG(South Asia Network Operators Group)
SANOG was started in 2003 to bring together operators for educational as
as cooperation. SANOG provides a regional forum to discuss operational
issues and technologies of interest to data operators in the South Asian
and meets twice a year. SANOG is the first regional Internet organization
in South Asia with participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. SANOG has very close cooperation
with the rest of Asian Internet organizations including APNIC and APRICOT.
Silk Project is to develop national and regional research and education
networks in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and it is officially called
the Virtual Silk Highway. It also has the satellite links to Europe.
The project originated as a NATO funded project in 2001, and includes the
following countries in Central Asia; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The EUMEDconnect project is an initiative to establish and operate IP-based
network in the Mediterranean region, and the proejct started in 2001.
The EUMEDconnect network serves the research and education communities of
the Mediterranean region, and is linked to the pan-European GEANT network.
Countries in West Asia(Middle East) which participate in EUMEDconnect
include Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Syria,
APNG started Security WG in early 1990s to coordinate on security in the
region as well as with other continents. Later, APNG Security WG supported
creation of several security-related groups including Asia PKI Forum in
and APCERT in 2002.
13. Internet Prolification
The Internet became very popular in Asia lately, and the Internet user
population in Asia surpassed those of North America and Europe in 2000s.
There are many other Internet areas where Asia is leading the world
broadband penetration, online game, and mobile Internet.
Broadband prolification started in late 1990s in Korea, first, followed by
other East Asia countries and economies including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan
and metropolitan areas of China. They are leading the Broadband penetration
globally with many innovative applications. The broadband is rapidly
becoming social infrastructure in the region.
Online game over the Internet is one of the applications where East Asian
countries and economies are leading globally. This is partially due to the
broadband prolification. Many leading companies on the online game reside
in the region.
The mobile Internet based on cellular telephone became very popular in
starting from i-mode in Japan in 1999, followed by countries and economies
in East Asia including Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan. The mobile Internet
is used for email, web access, e-commerce and many other applications.
Many innovative applications have been developed in Asia.
14. Concluding Remark
It has been 23 years since the first Internet was deployed in Asia, and
20 years since the first Internet-related conference with the coordination
meeting was held in Asia. This short paper on the brief Internet history in
Asia focused on the Internet-related organizations, mostly technical
and business organizations. We need another paper on social, cultural, and
political aspects of the Internet history, and hope some group to take on
I appreciate AP* Retreat community, APNG community and others to contribute
to review on this paper.
- AP* Retreat, Yearly Milestones on the Internet in Asia, 2005.
- Kilnam Chon, "National and Regional Computer Networks for Academic and
Research Communiteis in the Pacific Region," Proceedings of
- IAK, A Brief History of the Internet in Korea, 2005.
- Bob Leiner, et al, A Brief History of the Internet, ISOC, ?.
- Dan Lynch and Marshall Rose, Internet System Handbook, Addison-Wesley, 1993.
- Carl Malamud, Exploring the Internet, Prentice-Hall, 1992.
Appendix B: List of Country Histories of the Internet
Appendix C: Beginning of the Internet Among Asian Countries
|| IP Network
Remark: APNG is compiling the above data now.