PREGINET: DOST’s existing broadband network

The controversial national broadband network (NBN) project with the Chinese firm ZTE has been hogging the headlines, what with exposés of anomaly and corruption allegedly involving some Cabinet and other ranking government officials, and the President’s husband.

But behind the din of Senate investigation on the issue that has become a high-rating teledrama is an existing government broadband project that failed to catch similar big public’s attention—except for its beneficiaries—in the past seven years that it has been existing.

PREGINET, or Philippine Research Education and Government Information Network, is a nationwide broadband network that interconnects academic institutions, government offices, and research and development (R&D) offices in the country.

It is currently serving 76 institutions: 14 universities, 28 research institutions, 33 government offices and one nongovernment organization.

Humble beginnings

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) started in 1994 the vision that was to become PREGINET when it provided seed money to a university consortium to set up, operate and maintain a domestic wide-area network called the Phnet.

For the first time, university-consortium members and the country became connected to the Internet. Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) came in afterwards, spurred by the introduction of the technology. It has since become the fertile training ground for the country’s Internet engineers.

The DOST, with the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) as implementer, moved a step closer to its research and development (R&D) vision by spearheading the development of the country’s next-generation Internet.

Through the Asian Internet Interconnection Initiatives (AI3) project it was initially funded with P5.5 million and provided connectivity to global-research and education networks.

In June 2000, DOST cashed in P24 million for the first year to what was termed “high-performance research and education network”—the PREGINET.

“Currently, the concept of a research and education network is relatively new in the Philippines, and its potential to contribute to innovation research collaborations is a target that ASTI-PREGINET hopes to meet,” ASTI director Dennis Villorente told PSciJourn News Service.

Functions and purpose

According to ASTI, one of the objectives of PREGINET is the establishment of exchange points for research, education and government institutions. It facilitates interchange of research information, research and training, collaboration, and access to international databases.

It is also a venue to demonstrate novel applications in the areas of e-commerce, agriculture, telemedicine, distance education, digital libraries, information dissemination, hazards and disaster monitoring, prediction, warning and mitigation, delivery of government services and information to citizens and business.

The originally five-year project is on its third expansion period. With a total cost of P79 million, it is implemented in partnership with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology Telecommunications Office (CICT-Telof).

Backbone

PREGINET’s backbone currently consists of three exchange points located in Quezon City, Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro City. Links are then provided from the backbone to at least one access point per region.

It uses the Visayas-Mindanao Telecommunications Office Network of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to interconnect institutions in Iloilo, Cebu, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Iligan, Cotabato and Davao.

Private-sector support is also maximized through its partnership with private telecommunications companies. The Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) is one international organization that supports PREGINET.

The project also provides value to the academic, research and government institutions in four areas: connectivity, communication, content and community. ASTI, in cooperation with the DOST regional offices and DOTC-Telof, manages the network. ASTI also establishes, monitors and maintains the PREGINET national backbone up to the regional access points, and maintains central database of all ongoing projects.

Philippine Open Internet Exchange

The Philippine Open Internet Exchange (PhOpenIX), a component of PREGINET, is an open-to-all, carrier-neutral Ipv4 and Ipv6 multilateral-peering exchange and a nonprofit membership-based exchange. It is managed and operated by ASTI.

The I-Root server is now operational and answering DNS Top Level Domain queries on the exchange. This is made possible through the partnership with Packet Clearing House (PCH), APNIC and Autonomica/Netnod.

With partnership with i.root-servers.net operators, the exchange will have an instance of the I-Root server directly available at the IX core switch. The I-Root server incorporates IP anycast technology. It uses routing topology to send Internet traffic to the nearest or best destination.

This leads to better distribution of services and improves response times for end users which means faster resolution of fully qualified domain names to IP addresses for the Philippines.

Besides DOST-ASTI, the PhOpenIX is supported by the CICT, Philippine Network Operators Group, Innove Communications Inc., Cisco and PCH.

Cost recovery and sustainability

Although funding for PREGINET is ending on December 31, 2007, ASTI has formulated a plan that would continue and support its activities with minimal funding support from the DOST.

The PhOpenIX will carry on with its operations and expand its community. According to the PhOpenIX website, ASTI will continue to host an instance of the I-Root server (192.36.148.17) in Manila. The installation was assisted by operators from PCH and APNIC.

Among the enhancements they would carry include network sustainability, grid computing facility, IPv6 inter-network test bed and more collaboration with local universities.

Institutions connected to the system would form part of the cost-recovery scheme and sustainability of the project. — PSciJourn News Service

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13 Responses to “PREGINET: DOST’s existing broadband network”


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