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Community: Island Nation's ISP is All Open Source

Mar 13, 2003, 03:00 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Franck Martin)

By Franck Martin

The government of Kiribati (Pacific Islands) has given the technical management of the country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) .ki to Telecom Services Kiribati Limited (TSKL), the sole ISP for Kiribati.

In turn, TSKL has chosen to run the ccTLD .ki registry using only open-source systems.

The registry runs with PostgreSQL as a backend database, and is accessible via the Web through Apache and an interface developed with PHP.

All the DNS records are served with bind, and the whole system is running on Mandrake Linux.

There are several reasons to run the .ki registry in Kiribati with open source.

First, a few overseas companies have bid to run the registry and try to market it as .ki(ds) or as ki (which means energy in Chinese). However, the government has prefered to retain as much as possible its ownership in the registry as well as to develop the local IT industry (Kiribati is a nation of about 80,000 people scattered over an area bigger than the US).

Also, running the registry locally will help retain a skilled workforce in Kiribati, as well as to develop the local industry. Kiribati relies heavily on fishing licenses and a seaman workforce, so the diversity of industry is a positive move.

The government will be involved at all steps into the development of the registry. Local technical staff will be able to understand and develop the registry functions and perform their own marketing. More importantly, all operations of the registry will be totally under Kiribati law, ensuring that ultimately the people of Kiribati will choose how the registry will be run.

Open source is an obvious choice for this software as it enables TSKL to run services without worrying about software licenses. It also allows the ISP to have an open system where the local people can examine and modify the functionalities.

The system is, for the moment, tailored for start-up operations but it is also set up to develop with the business--offering a growth path for the local technical managers by building a system tailored to their needs.

While the proceeds are not expected to be as important as if the registry was run by a specialized foreign company, it is expected that the non-quantifiable returns into the local economy will be of much more value than hard cash.

With the proceeds from the registry, TSKL will be able to develop the Internet in Kiribati under government supervision.

The ccTLD .ki registry can be found at www.ki

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