APSTAR.ORG - The community of Asia Pacific Internet Organization




Kilnam Chon, et al.


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 Project Agency Network) in USA in 1969.

  In Asia, similar efforts to develop computer networks were launched in 1970s and 1980s. They include ACSnet in Australia,  and N-1 Network in Japan.


2. Initial Regional Coordination


International Academic Networkshop (IANW) 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 network coordination meeting, International Academic Networkshop – Asia-Pacific (IANW-AP) was held during the 1984 IANW in Oslo. 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 1984, 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, Pacific Computer Communications Symposium (PCCS), which was one of the world's first global conferences 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 networks. Other countries and regions 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), the 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 Information Network).

3. 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.

Campus Network

With proliferation 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 proliferation of the IP-based campus network then. Networking between universities was normally handled by UUCP protocol, which was also readily available by mid-80s.

PACCOM Project

The direct international link with IP to USA was permitted later in the decade. Pacific Communications Networking (PACCOM) Proejct 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 in Asia

Bitnet in Asia, another computer network for research and education community was developed in 1980s with VNET, 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 Network

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, 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 coordinate various matters on the Internet. The first matter was the creation of the regional IP registry, APNIC, which was started in 1993. Later, APCCIRN was renamed to Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG).


International Academic Networkshop had its last annual meeting in Australia in 1989. Its successor, INET was held in Copenhagen in 1991. Internet Society hosted INET annually from the next year in Kobe.  Many Asian participated in INET conferences, and various coordination efforts took place during INET conferences.


Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), Regional Internet Registry was created in 1993 to handle regional coordination body in Asia. APNIC and its counterparts, RIPE NCC in Europe, ARIN in North America, LACNIC in Latin America, and AfriNIC in Africa coordinate the world-wide IP registry.


Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) 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 others 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 spin-off from APNG as APNG Commercial WG.

7. Regional Research and Education Networks

There were two new major initiatives in mid-1990s to develop regional research and education networks; APAN (Asia Pacific Network Consortium), and AI3 (Asia Internet Interconnection Initiative Project).


Asia Internet Infrastructure Initiatives (AI3) was kicked off in 1995 by WIDE Project and JSAT in Japan. It has been operating the satellite based testbed network in Asia and producing a series of research activities using the testbed. With its companion project called SOI-Asia (School of Internet-Asia) over 10 countries in 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 others. The subsequent meeting on the gigabit networking at APII Testbed Forum in 1997 resulted in the formation of Asia Pacific Advanced Network Consortium (APAN). APAN addresses a high-performance network for research and development on advanced applications and services.


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 others, 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). Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Name Forum(APTLD) was established 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

By late 1990s, there are many Internet-related organizations in Asia Pacific, and a common to exchange information among these organizations and discuss the relevant issues became necessary. The first meeting of Asia Pacific Star Retreat (AP* Retreat) was held in 1998. Since then, AP* Retreat was held during APRICOT in winter and during APAN or APNIC in summer every year.

10. Internationalized Domain Names

The internationalization of the Internet became very important as the Internet 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 group.

11. Regional Network Operating Groups

South Asia Network Operating Group (SANOG) was started in 2003 to bring together operators for educational as well as cooperation. SANOG provides a regional forum to discuss operational issues and technologies of interest to data operators in the South Asian Region, and meets twice a year. SANOG is the first regional Internet organization in South Asia with participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. SANOG has very close cooperation with the rest of Asian Internet organizations including APNIC and APRICOT. Later, more regional NOGs were created including MENOG in Middle-East and PacNOG in the Pacific.

12. Security

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 Public Key Infrastructure Forum (Asia PKI Forum) in 2001, and Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team (APCERT) in 2002.

13. Governmental Initiatives


With creation of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), various activities related to the Internet were started. The most noteworthy activities include APEC Tel WG on telecommunications and EC SG on e-commerce. These groups were created in 1990 and 1999 respectively.


The Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) that aims to promote the development and application of new information and communication technologies for poverty alleviation and sustainable human development in the Asia-Pacific region.


PAN (Pan Asia Networking) is a program of International Development Research Center (IDRC) to seeks to understand the positive and negative impacts of information communication technologies (ICTs) on people, 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.

14. Central and West Asia

Silk Project

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, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.


The EUMEDconnect project is an initiative to establish and operate IP-based network in the Mediterranean region, and the project 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 Project include Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Turkey.

15. Internet Proliferation

Internet Users

The Internet became very popular in Asia, 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 including broadband penetration, online game, and mobile Internet.


Broadband proliferation 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

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 proliferation. Many leading companies on the online game reside in the region.

Mobile Internet

The mobile Internet based on cellular telephone became very popular in Asia, 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.

16. Concluding Remark

It has been 30 years since the first Internet was deployed in Asia, and 27 years since the first Internet-related conference with the coordination meetings 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 this challenge. I appreciate AP* Retreat community, APNG community and others to contribute to review on this paper.

17. Selective Bibliography

- Asia Internet History Project


- Internet Society, History of the Internet


- AP*, Community of Asia Pacific Internet Organizations


- APNG Camp


- Daniel C. Lynch, Internet System Handbook, Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1993.

- Carl Malamud, Exploring the Internet: A Technical Travelogue, Prentice-Hall, 1992.

Appendix A: Genealogy of Internet Organizations in Asia (2012.1.20)

Appendix B: Selective Country/Region Histories of the Internet in Asia

Australia, Origins and Nature of the Internet in Australia

China, The Internet Timeline of China 1986~1996

Japan, “WIDE Project Overview: Status Report of 1992,” Proc. of INET, June 1992.

Korea(South), A Brief History of the Internet in Korea

Singapore, The Origins of the Internet in Singapore

Thailand, History of the Internet in Thailand

USA, A Brief History of the Internet


Remark: See http://InternetHistory.asia for the updated, comprehensive coverage of the countries and regions.