Yemen to upgrade, modernise Internet service

Work is under way at the Yemeni Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology to modernise and upgrade Internet service by increasing the country's international bandwidth, modernising its infrastructure and transitioning to Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6).

In a meeting December 17th, the government agreed to finalise contractual procedures for investing in a submarine cable project, SMW5, a 20,000-kilometre submarine cable system set to extend from France to Singapore through Bab el-Mandeb and include the participation of 17 countries.

Through investment in the new submarine cable project, alongside an earlier submarine cable project, AAE1, the Public Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) seeks to improve Internet service by obtaining international bandwidth along two paths to prevent interruptions of service or disruptions, said PTC Director General Sadeq Musleh.

This will also ensure "linkage with a larger number of telecommunications companies and keeping pace with the exponential growth in broadband services, which has a high economic return", he told Al-Shorfa.

"These developments are accompanied by efforts on the part of the ministry to upgrade and modernise the Internet infrastructure and transition to IPv6, which aims to expand Internet Protocol (IP) address space in co-ordination with two organisations, Réseaux IP Européens (RIPE) and the International Telecommunication Union," Musleh said.

Yemen currently has 55,000 IPv4 addresses, while the number of subscribers is up to 130,000, which has created a state of constant Internet congestion, he said.

"Every subscriber is supposed to have at least one IP address," he said, adding that the transition to IPv6 would "enable Yemen to obtain 25 million addresses".

Mohammed al-Dhaifi, who co-ordinates the special committee charged with implementing the transition to IPv6, said his committee's plan includes technical outfitting, staff training and qualification programmes, in addition to education sessions for Internet service subscribers, among them telecom companies, banks and private sector companies.

Yemen issued the last of its allocated IP addresses to subscribers in 2012, he told Al-Shorfa, and the transition to IPv6 has become "an urgent need to keep pace with technological advances in the world".

Al-Dhaifi said a RIPE expert visited Yemen in August to discuss difficulties impeding efforts to modernise the network and to explore upgrading existing hardware and software.

The expert held workshops attended by telecom companies, bank representatives and other professionals to inform them of continuing developments and to enable them to make the necessary technical and technological preparations, he said.

"Yemen cannot remain singing outside the flock of technological progress and continue to operate using IPv4, which has become antiquated," said PTC public relations manager Mansour al-Radaee.

"The most important aspect of the transition to IPv6 involves getting all subscribers, including companies and individuals, ready to use the new hardware and software, including modems and computers," he said.

Many modems more than three years old are incompatible with IPv6 and the same is true for hardware and software currently in use, he added.