The Internet Hall of Fame recently checked in with Nepalese Internet pioneer Mahabir Pun on the effort to rebuild the country’s Internet infrastructure in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit the region in April. Pun was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2014 for bringing Internet connectivity to many remote Nepalese villages through his organization, the Nepal Wireless Networking Project, so he’s no stranger to the challenges of connecting Nepal to the rest of the world. Indeed, of the country’s 28 million people, about 17 million still don’t have Internet access—due not only to the earthquake, but to the remoteness and punishing topography of the Himalayan terrain.
In April, Pun reported that his foundation, himchal.org, was focused on raising money to rebuild village schools, libraries and computer labs and reestablish Internet connectivity, so area children could resume their education as quickly as possible. The Nepal Wireless Networking Project, in conjunction with several other organizations, has been working hard on this effort for the past several months. The following is an excerpt of our recent conversation with him on these efforts and the current situation in Nepal.
IHoF: Can you update us on your efforts to rebuild Nepal following the earthquake?
In a recent MSNBC piece, Kleinrock talks about how he never could have expected that the experiment known as “ARPAnet” would someday reach a billion users. He grapples with the issues of keeping the Internet open and free, and acknowledges that sometimes this can include some “pretty dark stuff.” However, he goes on to say how “essential” it is to maintain the Internet’s open history, but contends that these ideas must be managed.
Dr. Henning Schulzrinne, inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2013 for co-developing the Real-Time Streaming Protocol, Real-Time Transport Protocol and other key protocols that enabled Voice-Over-Internet technology, is a true exemplar of “scholarship in action.” As a technical adviser to the United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as a professor of computer science at Columbia University, he spends part of his time in New York teaching aspiring computer scientists, and the remainder in Washington D.C. advising the FCC on telecommunication policy so that it encourages innovation in technology. Schulzrinne tends to speak in a way that has “engineer” written all over it: precisely and without hesitation. If he says he’s going to give you four examples, he’ll give you four, not three and not five, and his train of thought never seems to run off the track. When the Internet Hall of Fame editorial staff caught up with him recently, he apologized for being three minutes late, but the FCC building he works in had just had a fire drill, and everyone had to go outside and stand around for a while. When we finally were able to chat, we found his conversation eminently worth waiting for. Here’s what he said about both of his jobs.
When Henning Schulzrinne was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, he took some time to consider the future of the Internet and the challenges it faces, including security, privacy and freedom of expression.
In this video, shot during the induction ceremony weekend in Berlin in August 2013, he shares his thoughts on the impact these challenges will have on business and government. He highlights the growth of mobile devices and improvements in Internet speed and availability, and goes on to add that with these advancements comes security challenges. As Schulzrinne says, “It’s hard for individuals to keep up with security.”
When asked about which action ensures the best possible future for the Internet, he stresses the importance of an open Internet. He goes on to add that his other big concern is the lack of funding for network research in both the public and private sectors. He stresses this could have long-term effects on future Internet advancements.
The interview was recorded by the Imagining the Internet Center, an initiative of Elon University, North Carolina, USA.
The Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization based in Washington DC, recently interviewed Vint Cerf for its Tech Tank. During the discusssion, Cerf shared his thoughts on net neutrality, Internet penetration and the “digital dark age.”