The appointment of Filipina ICT pundit and entrepreneur Judith Duavit-Vazquez into the board of the powerful Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) brings many new aspects to the Internet. In particular, Judith’s presence gives a fresh outlook for the organization’s plans to ensure that the Internet will be made available to everyone.
Judith will be the first Asian female to become a member of the prestigious ICANN Board of Directors, beating 86 other possible candidates for the position. She is also the first Filipino to be conferred the position.
She was officially appointed by the ICANN’s Nominating Committee last August 5 and will officially occupy her seat at the upcoming ICANN Annual General Meeting on October 28, 2011 in Dakar, Senegal.
Also joining Judith on the ICANN Board of Directors is Dr. Stephen Crocker, Internet infrastructure luminary and initiator of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) series. Dr. Crocker is Chair of ICANN Board.
Judith, who is currently a director for Filipino broadcast company GMA Network, will serve her first term as ICANN Board Member from October 2011 to October 2014, a three-year stint that will have her contribute to the decisions that will mark the future of the Global Internet.
Philippines’ “Godmother of the Internet” (or ICT work in the Philippines)
An icon in the Philippine technology scene, Judith is considered one of the pioneers in Internet connectivity in the Philippines after establishing the first ICT-ready building, the 45-floor The Peak in Makati City in 1995. She is also credited for having laid the first fiber in Central Business District Makati in 1995. It is this infrastructure that was used for the first commercial Internet Service by, Mozcom, ISP-pioneer and Unionbank, Internet Banking forerunner.
In addition, she is the founder of neutral telecommunications provider PHCOLO, Inc. and owner of the largest neutral telecommunications tower in the country.
One of her advocacies is to provide secure and reliable connectivity when and where it is needed. According to her, a country’s level of development can be measured by accessibility to basic infrastructure, which should include communication emphasizing the Internet as a parallel and virtual highway to any cybernetic library or information pool in the world.
“In 1985, my frustration was the 2-year wait for a business phone in Makati City. Today’s equivalent is the quality of an Internet connection,” says Judith. “The Philippines exists in an extremely competitive global environment. Socio-economic development can only happen if access to basic communication and information technology is within budget-and-reach.”
With her appointment in ICANN, Judith anticipates that an “Asian Voice” will further the ICANN’s objectives of reliable access to everyone
ICANN is a non-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. (www.icann.org)
To quote: The mission of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”)is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.
These unique identifiers are Domain Names and IP Addresses. Without these unique identifiers, computers will not find each other.
ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet.
Essentially, ICANN enables the Internet to be what it is.
Internet for Asia
Part of Judith’s goals is rooted on the fact that Internet access in Asia remains relatively low – only 922 million are active Internet users out of a population of 3.8 billion as of March 2011, according to Internet World Stats (www.internetworldstats.com/asia). Judith says countries in this region are still facing challenges in terms of connectivity, which she attributes to geographical challenges, cost of access and technology, among others.
“One issue of great concern is the exhaustion of Asia’s Internet address space (or IPv4). Transition to the next address space protocol or IPv6 is critical and proving to be difficult. Due to the large Asia Pacific population, Internet Service Providers have no option but to adopt IPv6 to serve the billions of un-served Internet users,” Judith stresses.
Among ICANN’s strategic thrusts is the launch of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process. This will enable countries and territories that use languages based on scripts other than Latin to offer users domain names in non-Latin characters. A country’s name and domain names may now be written in local scripts. Some of the native Asian languages that can be applied for IDN are Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Thai, among others. As of this writing, current number of ICANN received Fast Track requests are 33 (representing 22 languages).
Judith is extremely excited by the IDN Program. She describes the current Internet as an “Internet of the West” due to the use of Roman alphabets. “The IDN process will truly establish ICANN’s vision statement of One World. One Internet. ”
Hopes for the Philippines
While her work for ICANN will have a much larger and profound effect on the global function of the Internet, Judith believes the Philippines has ways to go.
“Our Government has yet to embrace the Internet as its communications highway, our ISPs do not peer, our electricity and international bandwidth costs are among the highest in the world driving content hosting to other nations and thus increasing latency… “ She sighs, “All these create a compounded effect, which dampens developments in Information and Communications Technology. I remain optimistic though. The Philippines has so much to offer.”
She closes: “The Internet and the envied web-entrepreneur class in the United States were created by private equity investments and capital markets. The Philippine Government can spur innovation by reviewing and amending antique laws and regulations in the realm of telecommunications and media ownership that deter foreign investments due to severe restrictions in ownership and management control. Infrastructure and talent-development require capital. Isn’t it time we consider One World… One Internet?”