ISLAMABAD: Computer programmers and users will now be able to host content locally and experience faster internet speed as Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday inaugurated the country’s first internet exchange point (IXP).

With the IXP now operational, users in Islamabad will be able to access content such as videos, music and literature hosted on servers installed locally.

“Just like a phone call is routed through local exchanges, an online request from internet users in Islamabad will be directed to the servers installed in the space provided by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) instead of directing the request to servers in Europe or the US,” said PTA Chairman Dr Ismail Shah.

Dr Shah, who was one of the key speakers at the inaugural ceremony, added that this would save both time and money.


Computer programmers and users will now be able to host content in Islamabad and experience faster internet speed


“The internet usage will become even cheaper in the future when information is accessed locally instead of through expensive internet exchanges abroad,” he said.

Convener Internet Service Providers (ISP) Islamabad Wahajus Siraj told Dawn that local internet exchange points also meant secure access to information.

“An online request is directed through several servers or machines in other countries with the risk of getting hacked. But with the local internet exchange points, a request does not have to go to other countries,” he said.

Pakistan may be one of the last countries in the region to develop its own IXP but according to IT expert Dr Philip Smith, the progress made in terms of internet usage has amazed many outside Pakistan.

“Internet users in Islamabad will be saving money, experience lower latency and will have available services in case of disruption in the international bandwidth,” said Dr Philip Smith, explaining how IXPs would also attract international companies such as Google and Dailymotion to create local images of their servers in Pakistan.

The gathering also learnt that the average internet traffic in Pakistan had increased from nothing to 2.4 gigabytes per second compared to Bangladesh where it has now reached 5.2 gigabytes per second after it set up its only local IXP in 2004. Sri Lanka still does not have a dedicated IXP.

According to an IT specialist, India has seven local internet exchange points set up in 2003 with the average traffic of 44 gigabytes per second.

“However, Pakistan is doing much better compared to India with the 2.4 gigabytes average speed in just two years time.

We are expecting a phenomenal increase in internet traffic not too far in the future,” he said.

Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said Pakistan was heading towards a destination where it would be at par with countries that have advanced internet services.

“We have been adding a million internet users a month since broadband and 3G and 4G high speed internet services were introduced in Pakistan. From an insignificant 3.8 million broadband users, Pakistan has now more than 40 million broadband users in less than three years and the numbers continue to rise,” said Ms Rehman.

Published in Dawn January 28th, 2017

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