Arterial Research and Educational Network in the Asia Pacific (ARENA-PAC) is a backbone network with the purpose of research and education and is made up of an international submarine cable network constructed with the goal of expanding the Internet in the Asia Pacific region. ARENA-PAC is a project of the Asia Pacific Internet Development Trust (APIDT), and is operated by WIDE Project with support from APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre).
WIDE Project has been responsible for running Internet operations in Japan and the Asian Pacific region for many years. Here we will cover from the history of WIDE Project’s Internet operations up to the appearance of ARENA-PAC.
The Beginnings of the International Connection from Japan
The beginnings of the Internet in Japan go back to the dial up-based JUNET, started in 1984. WIDE Project, which originally arose out of the JUNET research group, was started with the aim of researching a large-scale and wide-reaching distributed computing environment that could exchange packets in real-time.
The initial job of the project was to connect the network to the world in order to realize a global space. Cost and resource problems were solved through academic and industrial cooperation. The total capacity of the digital coaxial TPC-3 cable, which was finally constructed in 1989 and ran along the seabed via Hawaii, was 280 Mbps, and by using this to realize a 64 Kbps Internet connection, an international connection was established between Japan and America.
APNIC and WIDE Project
Through the SRI-NIC (Network Information Center) based in the think tank SRI, WIDE Project performed a world-first distributed NIC experiment related to managing the distribution of number and name resources. Through this, more diversity in languages and rules were incorporated into Internet operations.
Distributed resource management in Japan was carried out as part of a project at the laboratory of WIDE Project founder Jun Murai, who recently held a position at the University of Tokyo. A short while later it was incorporated as JPNIC and produced favorable results. Furthermore, in order to spread this JPNIC operations model across the whole of the Asia Pacific, APNIC was set up in Tokyo to act as a parent organization that ties together other countries. After that, APNIC aimed to become incorporated. It investigated within the region regarding the hiring of foreigners and nonprofit organization laws and regulations, and consequently became incorporated in Australia.
ARENA-PAC, the New Initiative in Asia Pacific Region
From then on, the Internet of the Asia Pacific region started to involve the industrial and academic domains of related countries as well as further interconnection, and this has led to the development that has been achieved up until today. WIDE Project has also been engaged with the development of a Pacific network. They have become involved with the AI3 project that connects universities from various Southeast Asian countries, “Pacific Wave” that is based in the University of Washington in the US, the PIREN project based in the University of Hawaii, and the GOREX exchange initiative in Guam. ARENA-PAC is their new initiative starting in 2020.
Along with the submarine cable network that is under contract for long-term usage, ARENA-PAC’s objective is a wide-reaching and high-capacity backbone network, also called an “artery”, that will spread across the Asia Pacific region, just as the name of ARENA-PAC indicates, through interconnections with other research and education networks. Originally it was planned with a base of 100 Gbps of communications bandwidth, however in the future, through line reinforcement and cooperation and interconnections with other research and education networks, it’s expected to expand to become an even higher capacity backbone network of 200 to 400 Gbps.
At present, ARENA-PAC will carry out the following three missions.
- Aim to develop infrastructure within the region, with partners such as AI3 at the center.
- Promote operations and development in the US and the new Pacific topology, through participation in GOREX.
- The mission in the Asia Pacific Rim for connecting the Asia Pacific region with other regions and the rest of the globe.
The Role of ARENA-PAC
ARENA-PAC has taken on the role of promoting strategies and development for connecting the Asia Pacific region topology with other regions and the rest of the globe.
In terms of connections with Europe, there are currently two connections between the EU and the Asia Pacific: one via the southern route and another via Russia. The southern route connection connects to various countries of the EU with bases in Singapore and Hong Kong, and this coordination is under the responsibility of ASI@NET of TEIN. Then there is a line that uses land cables across Russia by NII. This line is the shortest distance to the EU, but as it is overland there are issues in relation to pricing and maintenance. In addition to this, NORDUnet, Northern Europe’s REN, is now working with the Asia Pacific REN community, including ARENA-PAC and NII, for seeking a completely new route over the arctic connection to enhance the collaboration towards the future. It is in these ways that global network connections are moving dynamically.
There was also a report in July 2020 that a consortium that included Japanese companies had been selected in a plan for a cable that connects Chile and Australia. A competing candidate in this was China’s Huawei Marine, and their landing point is said to be Shanghai. Once the selection is decided, the landing point will be either Auckland in New Zealand or Sydney, and connectivity with Japan through JGA will be able to be ensured. In Chile, the national astronomical observatory’s ALMA Radio Telescope is in the Atacama Desert, 5,000 meters above sea level, and at the heart of the set of radio telescopes that number up to 66 runs Japanese supercomputer technology. The optical fiber network here is an important artery of the research base that allows the participation of astronomers and space scientists from around the world, including 22 countries affiliated with the project.
As can be gathered, it has become more important as to where is connected to where and how new connections are completed, and ARENA-PAC holds the role of contributing to the construction of the optimal topology so that it becomes an artery. Furthermore, by furthering technological development that can realize interoperations with non terrestrial network that have been fostered over many years of experience with the AI3/SOI-Asia project, WIDE Project will contribute to building an even more stable international research and education network in the Asia Pacific region and to developing the global Internet.