Asian carriers join Internet backbone effort

The Asia-Pacific region's leading Internet backbone effort will receive cash injections from several Asian telecomms carriers including Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. NTT is to take a 15% stake in Asia Internet Holding, which runs the A-Bone, an Internet backbone connecting eight Asian cities.

The Asia-Pacific region's leading Internet backbone effort will receive cash injections from several Asian telecomms carriers including Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, an Asia Internet Holding Co (AIH) official says.

Today NTT will invest US$2.1 million to take a 15% stake in Asia Internet Holding, which runs the A-Bone, an Internet backbone connecting eight Asian cities. At the same time AIH expects to receive about US$400,000 from Telecom Malaysia, the official says.

By October state carriers in both Thailand and China in addition to Hong Kong Telecommunications and Singapore Telecommunications will each invest undisclosed amounts in Tokyo-based AIH, the official says.

The investments advance AIH's effort to build a highway for inter-Asia Internet traffic. With the backing of the telecomms companies, AIH will greatly expand its local points of presence in the region, observers say.

NTT's participation, meanwhile, marks the latest overseas expansion of the telecommunications giant allowed by changing laws in Japan. Historically confined to its home market, NTT later this year will be allowed to offer international services as part of a liberalisation package passed by Japan's House of Councillors in June.

Founded in late 1995 as a joint venture between Internet Initiative Japan and several leading trading companies, AIH hopes to exploit the growing amount of Internet traffic among Asian countries.

Under the Internet's existing infrastructure, traffic between two Asian countries is routed through the United States, a practice AIH's partners hope to reverse with its A-Bone regional backbone.

Currently connecting Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, the A-Bone will be extended to Vietnam and the Philippines, the official says.

Asia Internet Holding can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://www.abone.net/.

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