ISLAMABAD: In what the government describes is a move to ‘connect the unconnected’, an internet exchange point has been set up at the Higher Education Commission office in Islamabad.
"We aim to connect the unconnected and aim at providing ICT services to the youth of the whole country which will surely change the fate of the people of unserved and underserved areas," Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said at the inauguration on Friday.
The Pakistan Internet Exchange Point (PKIX) is slated to serve as an exchange point for all local internet service providers (ISPs), which would help in reducing latency rates for all domestic traffic.
The exchange would allow networks to connect directly through it rather than through one or more third-party networks. It will also enable local networks to efficiently exchange information at a common point within Pakistan rather than exchanging local Internet traffic with the outside world – a supra-intranet.
"No government can work alone, we need to work together as a team with the public and private sector so that we can achieve our universal goals,” the minister said.
In the last three years, she said, the private sector has volunteered itself for all public sector initiative although there was some reluctance on this in the past she noted. "Public and private sector have now teamed up with us to overcome hurdles."
She added that the creation of the exchange was part of the new telecommunication policy which the government had introduced last year.
“Steps are being taken under the telecommunication policy to take Pakistan to its ultimate destination as a key player in IT,” she said.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Dr Islmail Shah said that they had held consultations with all the stakeholders to reach a consensus on establishing the first IXP of Pakistan.
"International best practices were followed and five working groups were formed having representation from all stakeholders, focusing on all aspect of the establishment of IXP for Pakistan," he said.
Earlier, HEC Chief Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that the Ministry of IT, HEC and PTA need to work together to obtain the benefits of IT tools and technologies.
He added that the HEC was playing its part to facilitate higher education institutions with ICT services. Over seven national telecom and internet carriers are part of PKIX, while the hardware for the point has been provided by Huawei.
The point set up in Islamabad will be followed by other Regional Internet Exchange Points in cities such as Lahore, Karachi and Quetta.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2017.