Categories
Deploy360 Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) IPv6 Securing Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)

Training the next generation of network engineers in Kyrgyzstan

The Internet Society in conjunction with Packet Clearing House (PCH), our Kyrgyzstan Chapter (ISOC-KG) and the CAREN Project organised a BGP and Peering capacity building workshop on 3-7 September 2018 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. This five-day workshop was aimed at training engineers for the existing KG-IX Internet Exchange in the capital Bishkek, but also for the prospective Ferghana Valley Internet Exchange being established in the southern city of Osh.

The workshop was led by Nishal Goburdhan who’s an Internet Analyst at PCH, a non-profit organisation that builds and support IXPs around the world. He was assisted by myself (Kevin Meynell), with the workshop being hosted by the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

The workshop was comprised of a mix of lectures and hands-on lab work to teach the skills required for interconnecting networks on the Internet, and participating in an Internet Exchange. It commenced with Internet address planning using both IPv4 and IPv6, followed by setting-up OSPF on different internal networks, then interconnecting those using BGP and applying routing policy and filtering. The workshop concluded with how to set-up an IXP and discuss current best practices for peering.

Twelve participants attended the workshop, drawn from the incumbent telco Kyrgyz Telecom, KG-IX, commercial ISPs, universities, and KRENA (the National Research and Education Network). Despite limited previous experience and some difficulties in communicating between English, Russian and Kyrgyz languages (although we had an excellent translator), the group proved very adept at picking-up what needed to be done, cooperating as a team, and completing the tasks. It was also extremely encouraging that although none of the participants had any previous IPv6 experience, they were keen to learn how to set-up and manage IPv6 networks which will be critical for the future development of the Internet in Kyrgyzstan.

KG-IX has greatly improved performance and reduced the cost of Internet access in Kyrgyzstan, but this has mostly benefitted Internet users in the capital Bishkek and northern part of Kyrgyzstan. The Ferghana Valley in the south part of the country also has a substantial population, yet has poor access to communication services and users typically pay more than five times for the same bandwidth as in Bishkek.

Establishment of the Ferghana Valley Internet Exchange Point (FVIXP) is therefore extremely important for improving connectivity in the region, particularly with respect to reducing costs. This open and neutral exchange, supported by the Internet Society, is planned to be built in Osh, but will also need network engineers to support it which was one of the motivations for organising a capacity building workshop to develop the necessary skills.

The Internet Society would like to thank the Internet Society Kyrgyzstan Chapter, the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Nishal Goburdhan and Packet Clearing House, and the EU-funded CAREN Project for their support of this workshop.

Categories
Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

We Hear You Central Asia! (An update from the CAIGF)

In times when disintegration seems to be the word of the day, it is a pleasure to witness people coming together to build bridges and find common ground. The first Central Asian Internet Governance Forum (CAIGF) took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 21-22 June gathering a significant group of local, regional and international stakeholders.

Central Asia consists of five former soviet republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), and this IGF marked a first time to conduct open dialogue on Internet policy matters in the region. The organisers – the Kyrgyz Government and the Civil Initiative on Internet Policy – rallied support from a group of partners including the Internet Society, the Internet Governance Forum Support Association (IGFSA), ICANN and others.

The issues raised during the conference were very much in line with the priorities of many global Internet stakeholders today.

Internet access is still a challenge especially in remote and rural areas. According to International Telecommunications Union data (ITU, 2014), Internet penetration in Central Asia ranges from 12% in Turkmenistan to 55% in Kazakhstan. Even though these numbers are likely to be higher now, several challenges persist in this largely land-locked region. Options for international connectivity are limited and demand for Internet access is curbed by prices, low levels of digital literacy and lack of local content. The Internet Society shared experiences and good practices from other parts of the world in the areas of traffic exchange and wireless connectivity.

Internet security and resilience are on top of the Internet agenda in Central Asia as in many other regions. The countries in the regions do not yet have comprehensive national cybersecurity strategies or critical infrastructure protection schemes, and CAIGF provided a platform to exchange ideas and listen to experts. Much like in Europe, privacy and other rights are a central part of the discussion about planned and actual measures for national and cybersecurity in Central Asia. While we may not yet have all the answers on how to secure our Internet environment, the first step is to break the “security tabu” and discuss the issues at stake openly with all relevant stakeholders.

Our hosts and event partners went to great lengths to make this first CAIGF a successful event. The CAIGF offered us an opportunity to better understand the hopes and concerns of the Central Asian stakeholders.

As a next step, we would like to encourage the participation of Central Asian stakeholders in the global Internet fora such as the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF). It is important that all the corners of the world are represented and heard as part of the global discussions on the Internet!

Categories
Community Projects Growing the Internet

Help get half of Kyrgyz people online in the next five years

In the 21st Century, it’s pretty much impossible for a country to develop without improving its Internet infrastructure. Kyrgyzstan is no exception. Right now, Kyrgyzstan lags behind much of the world when it comes to Internet penetration. While roughly 70 percent of the country is wired for the Internet, only about a quarter of Kyrgyz people are online. That’s why we started the Kyrgyz chapter of the Internet Society.

The biggest challenge in getting Kyrgyzstan online is our the landscape itself. More than two-thirds of our country is mountainous and most Kyrgyz people live in remote, high altitude towns and villages. Getting Internet access, let alone reliable, affordable, reasonably fast Internet access to places like these is a huge challenge.

That’s why I thought it was important to get involved with The Internet Society. It’s already has experience getting Internet into remote, mountainous regions thanks to their work in India and Nepal.  Being able to access that wealth of knowledge will be invaluable for our work here. We want to make it possible to provide the Internet in rural schools. We want to start by getting the Internet to the areas with the most young people living there, to help them find jobs and get an education.

Another one of our goals is to increase the number of Internet exchange points (IXPs) in Kyrgyzstan. This will allow us to route our Internet traffic domestically, rather than sending it to other countries and back again, which will make the Internet in Kyrgyzstan both more affordable and faster. We also want to work on building links and collaborating on Internet infrastructure projects with other countries in the region to help build our capacity. We also want ISOC to have a seat at the table when the Kyrgyz government is setting telecommunications policy.

More than anything though, we want to make Kyrgyzstan a more connected country. Ideally, we’d like to see 40 or 50 percent of Kyrgyz people online in the next five years.

If we could do that, we’d make a world of difference in the country’s development.

Please join us! Get in touch at imanalieva.b@gmail.com