Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos plans to have a direct internet connection with the international gateway by the end of this year, as the demand for high speed internet access increases.
The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications announced at its annual conference last week that it had signed an agreement with Japanese telecoms company NTT for a connection to the National Internet Centre via the international undersea internet cable.
The ministry did not provide details about when the Japanese company would begin work to connect Laos to the international gateway but promised the connection would be operational before Laos hosts the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in November.
The direct internet cable connection between Laos and the international gateway will enable Laos to provide faster internet services amid growing demand for high-speed, stable and secure internet connectivity, which is being spurred by rapid economic growth.
Planning and Cooperation Department Director General Snith Xaphakdy said yesterday the government plans to negotiate with its Vietnamese counterpart to rent Vietnamese internet cabling so that it can connect with the international internet cable, which runs along the sea floor.
"We do not need to lay down new cable as our internet cable already runs to the Lao-Vietnamese border so it is no problem to connect with the Vietnamese cabling," Snith said in a telephone interview from Indonesia.
He said the ministry has not finalised specifications regarding internet speed, but plans to provide a fast and stable signal to Lao customers amid growing demand for modern telecommunication services.
According to the four telecom operators in Laos who offer internet services, current demand for internet exceeds the capacity provided by a 5 Gigabyte system so the government should purchase 10 Gigabytes to accommodate the spiralling demand for internet use.
There are currently about 500,000 internet users in Laos. The Lao Securities Exchange for example requires a high speed and reliable signal to allow it to set up an online stock trading service.
Snith said that, at present, internet service providers in Laos have to purchase internet connections from Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese companies. These indirect international connections can result in weak signals and connections are sometimes slow and unreliable due to the sheer volume of traffic.
Internet outages in neighbouring countries also cause problems in Laos as the country is dependent on their network for internet access.
The government has established the National Internet Centre and will encourage all internet service providers to purchase bandwidth from the centre with the aim of ensuring tighter regulation of internet services.
At present, the government is unable to regulate internet use in Laos because individual service providers purchase connections from various foreign companies.
Lao Telecom Deputy Director Chanthavone Sosamphan said yesterday it was the government's policy to encourage all internet service providers in Laos to source their signal from the National Internet Centre so that internet use can be supervised nationwide.
He said internet service providers wanted the National Internet Centre to sell bandwidth to telecom operators at a competitive price, so they in turn can offer their customers reasonably priced internet access.
There are seven internet service providers in Laos, including the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
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