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Internet once feared to threaten national security

Last update: 12:00 | 20/04/2017

VietNamNet Bridge - Do Trung Ta, as a member of the Communist Party Committee, representing the post and telecommunications' leadership, at the 1996 Central Conference II, asked for permission to bring the internet to Vietnam, with strong belief in Vietnamese technical staff. This was done after some units had joined the internet and there had been encouraging results from the VietNet network. 


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Do Trung Ta, as a member of the Communist Party Committee, representing the post and telecommunications' leadership, at the 1996 Central Conference II asked for permission to bring the internet to Vietnam

Vietnam accesses internet early

By 1995, some countries in the world had joined the internet, while some units in Vietnam began providing internet services at different levels on a trial basis.

The Information Technology Institute, for example, got support from the Australian National University to install email system and provided the service of sending emails through UUCP protocol, creating VARENET network since 1993 which allowed it to connect and send emails with the server at the university.

In another effort, Tran XuanThuan and the Company of Software Engineering (CSE) developed a communication protocol of its own, named Tnet, which used SCO Unix operating system.

Tnet also was permitted to connect with the world and send emails via a software piece built by CSE. 

Tnet was a very worthwhile effort by Tran XuanThuan and the CSE team, which demonstrated the Vietnamese ability to master technology. It was applied in the VNPT’s postal sector in 1995. However, as it did not use the TCP/IP communications standard, it was inconvenient for the use of the internet’s features and services, and therefore, could not become more popular.

In January 1996, in NhaTrang City, Teltic, the informatics center belonging to KhanhHoa Post, VietNet, the first information network in Vietnam which provided services to the public, was established, utilizing TCP/IP communication protocol of the global internet.

VietNet then had three servers located in Hanoi, NhaTrang and Ho Chi Minh City, connected by the integration of three dial-up telephone lines. Using LINUX operating system, VietNet received and sent emails with the world through the connection with VARENET.

The success of VietNet showed that Vietnam’s telecommunication network had high quality and met international standards, and that Vietnamese technical staff at VNPT (the Vietnam Post & Telecommunication Corporation) were capable of accessing new technologies and developing internet-based applications. This gave one more reason to VNPT’s leaders to be more confident to persuade the Communist Party’s leaders to agree on Vietnam’s internet connection with the world.

Teltic, after learning from experience of the Information Technology Institute’s SCO Unix and UUCP communication protocol in 1993, and Tnet in 1995, decided to use a solution using TCP/IP communication technology. 

At that moment, TCP/IP was unfamiliar in Vietnam. Some information technology experts then believed that only UUCP could be utilized in Vietnam, while TCP/IP could not run on dial-up lines.

However, Teltic still tried to use Linux, the open version of the Unix operating system, to build the information network VietNet with servers located in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and NhaTrang, which ensured 24/24 online connection through three dial-up lines.

On December 1, 1997, Vietnam officially began providing internet service, while on December 12, 1997, www.vnn.vn, the predecessor of VietNamNet online newspaper officially became operational.

As such, VietNet, a model with full features of Internet network, came into life in Vietnam, two years before Vietnam officially joined the internet network in December 1997.

The establishment of VietNetnetwork and the success in providing services to the public were the result of the pioneering spirit of people who made the daring decision of going straight to modern technologies.

Ta, in memory of VNPT’s technical officers, was the leader who always encouraged projects and initiatives in information technology and inspired young engineers.

On December 1, 1997, Vietnam officially began providing internet service, while on December 12, 1997, www.vnn.vn, the predecessor of VietNamNet online newspaper officially became operational. Ta, together with Hoang Xuan Nguyen, are among the officials who have given strong support to the establishment and development of VietNamNet.

Internet feared to threaten national security

At the 1996 Central Conference II with the main topic about the development of science & technology and education & training, Ta asked to open the internet.

“At the conference, I made three important proposals,” Ta said. 

“First, I asked the central leaders not to use cordless telephones anymore because of security reasons. Second, I proposed to utilize broadband throughout the country with fiber optic which would both facilitate the use of high-speed services and settle the problems caused by electromagnetic fields, which can ensure smooth communication even in the context of electronic war,” he continued.

“And third, the most important, I said the science & technology and education & training won’t be able to develop without internet,” he said.

Ta and his co-workers showed a map on how to bring internet to Vietnam. Instead of having internet through Australia, Vietnam will develop it itself based on its management capability.

“The plan made some officials anxious. They feared the internet opening may threaten national security,” Ta related. 

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“I asked the leaders to spend time to visit computing lab where we talked about what internet meant, what benefits it could bring and how to prevent risks with firewall,” he said.

After getting approval from the Party Central Committee, the government began implementing the designed plan and the internet came into life one year later.

Commune cultural post offices – humanitarian idea in doi moi (renovation) period

“Newspapers were something rare and precious in rural areas. I gave some newspapers to the owner of tea shop near my house in the countryside and I saw the same newspapers many days later when I returned,” Ta said about the setting up of commune cultural post offices, which was later praised as a‘humanitarian idea in the doi moi period.

Ta, when putting forward the plan, proposed to call them ‘commune cultural post offices’, because ‘commune’ means the place for community.

The plan received support from Nguyen Khoa Diem, who was then Minister of Culture and Information, who believed that it was necessary to establish new cultural institutions in rural areas.

8,800 commune cultural post office points were set up in 10,000 communes throughout the country.

“I hiped that commune cultural post offices could help create jobs for high-school graduates in the localities. These could also be places where retired people read newspapers and relax every day,” Ta said.

Also, the post offices could be places to put base transreceiver stations (BTS) that bring mobile services to rural areas. They are also the communes’ cultural and political centers, through which the Party’s decisions and resolutions can reach local people.


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Lan Anh

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