Internet in Niue: evolution of our First ISIF Asia Award Winner

13244026_1087443571313390_4526059202570786902_o
Internet Niue will forever be remembered for being the first WiFi country. It’s Free WiFi initiative was a bold move especially on a small remote island in the South Pacific.
Back in the late 1990s, IUSN (Internet Users Society of Niue) a charitable organisation, applied and was later delegated as manager of the Niue .nu ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain) by IANA. As part of it’s goodwill offer, IUSN set out to provide free Internet access through an initiative called Internet Niue.  It began it’s limited services with dial-up and by 2003 it had started testing WiFi in downtown Alofi.
On 5 January 2004 Category 5 Cyclone Heta struck Niue with a force that ravaged the tiny island. Part of the capital was completely wiped out by the waves that rose over the 20m upraised coral cliffs.  As a result of this devastation, we had to rebuild our network infrastructure but with better understanding for the forces of nature as well as the environment that our wireless had to go through.
We worked with local organisations known as Village Councils (VC) and used their meeting halls as sites for our access points.  We also partnered with some private sector businesses and home owners to enable the distribution of WiFi to be extended across the narrow villages that followed the main road.  There’s no mountains or hills so we were able to utilise existing towers to install our major backhaul wireless links.  Initially we used empty cat food cans to build our antennaes and these worked well.  But advancements in design and technology including the decrease of prices in equipment have allowed us to extend further.  We now cover 13 of the 14 villages on the island of Niue.
A lot has changed since our first trial links back in 2003 but the vision has remained the same, to provide WiFi to the local communities.  For a long period, the island was able to enjoy free internet but as time passed, we had to adapt the way we operated to be able to cope with changes occurring in the domain name (TLD) world especially with the arrival of new gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains).  Our funding is dependent on the sales of the .nu domain names and we have had several years of having the luxury of free services. The main problem with the Free WiFi setup was that over time with the growth of users, the services was degraded.  So a change to the system was needed as we head into the future if we were going to survive.
By the beginning of 2016, plans were activated which allowed us to upgrade our satellite bandwidth with assistance from Speedcast. We started the new venture of charging people and built a system to become a commercial ISP, Kaniu (www.kaniu.nu). We still get subsidised with funding for the satellite bandwidth from IUSN but we’ve had to engage our users and charge them a fee of $50/unlimited per month to cover the local operations.  The uptake has been promising and we aim to continue offering more bandwidth to our users.
But when implementing these changes, the Government of Niue felt that we had violated some Niue Telecommunications laws and regulations and requested us to cease services. We adhered to that directive, even though we believed we had not broken any laws or regulations, and gave notification to our 600+ users as we turned off all our services in March 2016.  Users that benefited from the Internet access provided, voiced their concerns and later on the same evening we received the authorisation to resume our  services much to the delight of our users. We have continued to meet and discuss with the government what their concerns and requirements are as we intend to maintain our operations in Niue, in a small market that is developing.
We have invested a lot of effort and resources so we will continue to do what we do best.
ISIF Award
In 2011, Internet Niue won the ISIF Award for Localisation and Capacity Building. I was invited to Nairobi, Kenya to the IGF (Internet Governance Forum) to receive the Award. It was an amazing experience to meet other award winners and share with them, but there were far greater benefits that grew organically from it.
Personally, I was able to leverage the opportunity of winning the award and be able to participate and contribute to the regional PICISOC, Internet Society, ICANN (APRALO) as well as the Pacific IGF and New Zealand NetHui.  It has been an exciting journey but moreso the recognition for the work of Internet Niue and Rocket Systems both on the island and internationally.  It helped to grow my professional network and enabled my participation and exchange of ideas around the biggest issue in the Pacific Islands, specially for rural and remote locations: connectivity.  We have taken up the opportunity with Kacific’s upcoming service and we’re very excited that their first interim service is active in Vanuatu.  With this kind of an opportunity including the Hawaiki project underway, the future for our Pacific People looks promising and we can finally realise the dream of becoming more engaged in the digital economy.  Even though I still manage our Niue project, I have found more opportunities in the land of the long white clouds, Aotearoa New Zealand.  I am currently involved in the Makanet project that will see the use of the Kacific service to deliver broadband to rural and remote locations in New Zealand.  This will be a major undertaking and the potential to connect the under-served communities of New Zealand is similar to our own Pacific under-served communities.
The ISIF programme has assisted some great projects in the past and I’m sure it will continue to help others grow to greater heights.  So if you’re interested in using this great resource to develop and gain more exposure for your work, please don’t hesitate to apply at https://isif.asia/award
I’ll be happy to connect with anyone who is wanting more information about our ISIF Award experience as well as our ongoing projects in the Pacific.

ISIF Asia Awards 2016: Nominations open until 15 September

At the ISIF Asia secretariat we get very excited this time of the year, when the call for nominations for our annual awards opens. It is a time where we can get to acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions that the Asia Pacific region makes to the future of the Internet. It reflects the name of our blog, Discover, where we seek new and exciting ideas that are changing lives and the way we do things through the power of the Internet.

Internet development innovation in the Asia Pacific cuts across many languages, many cultures and many issues that affect our communities.

Our Technical Innovation Award is looking to recognize those that have found creative ways to connect the unconnected; to lower costs and facilitate maintenance of Internet connections; to power networks using alternative fuels or making power consumption more efficient; to restore networks and Internet services after disasters; to design and develop devices that respond better to the region’s challenging weather patterns; to support specific services across overpopulated cities using IoT devices; to deploy and learn more about IPv6; to protect privacy and offer a safe Internet experience across this diverse and vast region.

Our Community Impact Award is looking to recognize other efforts that might not be so technical in nature, but that are changing the lives of women and girls across the region that are working on ICT, or tools that enhance democracy and transparency through open data and citizens participation, to protect the environment as well as those one developing applications and services that look to empower a community on their decision making, on their quest to overcome poverty.


2015awards
On the photo, ISIF Asia 2015 award winners with our partners and sponsors.

Technical innovation at the service of social change is our focus. Each of the awarded initiatives will receive a cash prize of AUD 3,000 plus a travel grant for a representative to attend the awards ceremony at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico in December 2016.

ISIF Asia has being hosting its awards ceremony at the IGF since 2011. The event offers a great opportunity to engage in the discussions about the future of the Internet in a very special space, where governments, academia, private sector, civil society and the technical community get together, with many networking opportunities to expand their professional network and promote their work.

In addition, one of the two projects awarded will receive AUD 1,000 as part of the Community Choice Award, given to the one with the highest number of votes from the community. Voting will be open from 16 September to 5 December 2016.

The awards will be granted to initiatives that have already been implemented or are in the final stages of implementation, and that are aligned with the funding categories and eligibility criteria.

Nominations close on 15 September 2016.

For more information about how to submit your award nomination for an ISIF Asia Award and to learn about previous winners, please visit: https://isif.asia/award

ISIF Asia largest ever grants funding pool: Apply now!

Really excited about the 386,000 reasons we have to celebrate and support Innovation on Internet development in the Asia Pacific. Thanks to the amazing support from APNIC, the Internet Society and the Canadian International Development Research Centre, ISIF Asia is launching today four new categories, with different types of funding support for research, technical innovation, community impact and cybersecurity. These four grants open simultaneously today until 31 May 2016 (midnight UTC).

From different angles and through different mechanisms, this largest ever pool of AUD 386,000 will support initiatives at different stages of development, that are using the Internet for social and economic development in the Asia Pacific. Projects that introduce, improve, and apply Internet technology for the benefit of the Asia Pacific community may be eligible for financial support in the following categories.

Get to know each one of these four categories and do your homework before your submit your application. Each one has a specific purpose and different support packages, because no one size fits all. Every idea needs a

APNIC Internet Operations Research Grants

The aim of the APNIC Internet Operations Research Grants is to support the development of a research community focused on improving the availability, reliability, and security of the Internet in the Asia Pacific.

The grants are open to researchers working on Internet operations, infrastructure and related protocols in areas such as:

– Network measurement and analysis
– IPv6 deployment
– BGP routing
– Network security
– Peering and interconnection

Public or private sector organizations, universities, research and development institutions and non-government organizations will be considered, with members of Network Operator Groups (NOGs), IXPs, root server operators, academics, and post-graduate students particularly encouraged to apply.

Applicants can apply for funding between AUD 5,000 to AUD 45,000 based on research needs, a realistic timeframe, and a detailed budget. AUD 90,000 is available in total to fund successful applications.

Internet Society Cybersecurity Grant

A single grant of AUD 56,000 is available for a project focusing on the resiliency and security of the Internet’s naming and routing functions, through innovative approaches to Domain Name Security Extensions (DNSSEC), RPKI and BGP. These approaches should enhance user confidence in Internet-based services and options for the deployment of secure routing standards.

Strong emphasis is placed on documenting impacts and sharing knowledge through papers, videos, and associated communication materials.

Community Impact Grants

Innovation and development are integral components of these grants, with AUD 60,000 available to fund two new projects and a single grant of AUD 50,000 to scale up an existing solution. The organization selected under the scale-up grant will also receive a capacity building package valued at AUD 10,000.

Areas of focus for this grant include women and girls in IT, enhancing democracy, open data, economic empowerment, poverty alleviation health and education.

Technical Innovation Grants

Innovation and development are integral components of these grants, with AUD 60,000 available to fund two new projects and a single grant of AUD 50,000 to scale up an existing solution. The organization selected under the scale-up grant will also receive a capacity building package valued at AUD 10,000.

Areas of focus include access provision, electricity supplies, devices, Internet of Things (IoT), IPv6, and privacy.

Apply Now

The ISIF Asia grant programs present a great opportunity to secure seed or supporting funds for those who are addressing local and regional issues using Internet technologies in an innovative way, and would not
be made possible without contributions from APNIC, the Internet Society and the Canadian International Development Research Centre.

Please note, all grant allocations are competitive and follow a rigorous selection process.

More information, eligibility criteria for each grant program, and application forms are available on the ISIF Asia website.

MDRU – restoring connectivity during disasters

Fusce a ante nisl, vitae pretium enim. Nunc imperdiet iaculis augue nec porta! Phasellus congue sapien eget libero ornare lobortis. Aliquam sit amet nulla velit, in posuere tellus. Nulla ut orci lorem. Donec in lectus orci, sed dignissim lacus. Praesent lectus diam, sodales at commodo sodales, hendrerit sit amet justo. Morbi a risus urna. Ut in lorem at nisi ultricies semper? Mauris imperdiet sem euismod ligula pulvinar hendrerit.

Continue reading “MDRU – restoring connectivity during disasters”