Belize to host Caribbean Peering Forum in 2018

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—Belize will host the fourth Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Forum, known as CarPIF, on June 6 and 7, 2018. The 2018 meeting is expected to be the largest to date.

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Why the Caribbean Needs to Strengthen Its Internet Infrastructure

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—The Caribbean will have to strengthen its Internet infrastructure if it is to keep pace with the world’s growing digital economy.

That’s the view held by Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist with US-based non-profit Packet Clearing House, an organisation providing operational support and security to critical Internet infrastructure around the world.

Speaking to an audience of telecoms sector executives and government officials at the Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Forum in Phillipsburg, St Maarten, Wooding contrasted the high speed of change in the global Internet landscape with the relatively slow pace of Internet infrastructure development in the Caribbean.

He cited he recent Visual Networking Index from technology hardware giant Cisco, which estimates that by 2021, more than one billion new Internet users and 10 billion new devices will more than triple global Internet traffic. Video will account for 82 per cent of all traffic, mobile will represent 20 per cent, and online gaming will be the fastest-growing residential Internet service.  Gamers and other users will enjoy much faster service, as broadband speeds will practically double, from 24.7 Mbps in 2015 to 47.7 Mbps.

But while the rest of the world rushes to cash in on those lucrative markets, Wooding says the Caribbean faces a real risk of being left behind. A major factor, he said, is the persistently slow pace of Internet infrastructure build-out across the region.

“Faster, bolder steps must be taken if the region is to seize the development opportunities that the Internet economy offers. The translation time between talk and action must be dramatically shortened,“ he said.

Telecommunications service providers aren’t the only firms that will need to upgrade their hardware. Government ministries and private companies across the region will also have to invest more heavily and wisely in the technology underlayer that drives modern digital economies as well.

“The cost of infrastructure build-out is too important and the timing too significant to leave to private-sector decision-making alone. Governments and private sector investors will need to form far more fruitful partnerships if the Caribbean is to effectively drive technology-enabled business innovation, social inclusion and economic development,” he said.

He also predicted that the global economy will become increasingly unforgiving to regions with failing and outdated infrastructure, particularly small-island developing states like those in the Caribbean.

“Computer networks, mobile broadband, and Internet-connected services are now an essential feature of the modern digital economy. Neither businesses, governments nor citizens can ignore this reality.  Important decisions about network build-out, human capacity building, and network security are no longer the sole preserve of traditional telecommunications providers. These issues are now the concern and the responsibility of governments, businesses and individuals at every level.”

Hosted by the Internet Society, Packet Clearing House and the Caribbean Network Operators Group, the Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Forum brought experts and execs into a common space to discuss Internet infrastructure from a Caribbean perspective on July 5 and 6.

Originally published: Caribbean Journal

Internet experts favour Guatemala exchange point

guillermo_cicileo.jpg GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala -- Internet service providers in Guatemala have expressed a commitment to explore ways to work together to strengthen the local Internet. This significant step forward for the country's Internet landscape was facilitated by a regional technology conference held in Guatemala City from March 20 to 22.

Several Internet service providers attended the three-day meeting, called LACNIC On the Move, where they expressed interest in working together to establish an Internet Exchange Point, or IXP, in Guatemala. An IXP is a piece of Internet infrastructure through which the ISPs could exchange local Internet traffic between their networks.

Alfredo Verderosa, manager of the Services Department at LACNIC, said that the establishment of an IXP would be “a very positive development for the development of Guatemala’s Internet.”

LACNIC is the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry, a non-governmental organisation based in Uruguay. Since its establishment in 2002, LACNIC has played a leading role in developing a single, open, stable and secure Internet at the service of the development of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Guillermo Cicileo, coordinator of security, stability and resilience at LACNIC, said, “All Internet service providers, even fierce competitors, would do well to consider the superior benefits of working together for the greater good.”

A local IXP would improve the quality and cost effectiveness of delivering local web-based services to Guatemalan citizens and businesses, which is in turn a major benefit for local ISPs, Cicileo explained.

The IXP would also enable new forms of local innovation and entrepreneurship, allowing Internet users to capitalise on e-commerce opportunities, he added.

In other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, IXPs have done more than address the inefficiency of local Internet traffic exchange. They have also allowed other important Internet infrastructure to be located in-country, such as domain name root services and content delivery caches from major content networks such as Netflix, Akamai and Google.

“We encouraged all interested parties to form an informal group and to continue to hold talks around the possibility of establishing the first Guatemalan IXP as a matter of urgent priority,” Cicileo said.

The next LACNIC On The Move event is expected to take place in Guyana in October.

Building the Caribbean internet economy

bevil_wooding.jpg PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—In the Caribbean, change is in the air. In fact, it’s in the cloud.

There’s a new conversation among the community of technology experts who spearhead Caribbean Internet development, and the buzz is no longer just about physical infrastructure. The architects of the region’s digital future are actively taking steps to strengthen the region’s economy by developing the Caribbean cloud.

“We have to look beyond basic infrastructure deployment, to developing the local content, services and business models that can truly benefit the region,” said Bevil Wooding, Internet strategist with US-based non-profit Packet Clearing House (PCH).

“Twelve Internet exchange points are already established in the Caribbean, and several others are being considered. While we continue to push for strengthening of critical Internet infrastructure in the region, our focus must also expand to development of the Caribbean Internet-based economy. We need to build out the Caribbean cloud,” he said.

Internet exchange points, or IXPs, are pieces of critical infrastructure that provide points of physical interconnection between the networks that make up the global Internet. PCH has played an active role in setting up more than two-thirds of the world’s IXPs and almost all of the exchange points in the Caribbean.

The non-profit firm has worked closely with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, an inter-governmental CARICOM organisation that focuses on regional technology policy. Together, they have actively supported the proliferation of Internet exchanges in the Caribbean.

While establishing physical exchange points is necessary, it is not sufficient to advance the regional Internet economy, Wooding said. Another crucial step is needed.

“Getting the exchange points up and running is a start. But there has to be a shift in the conversation, from local traffic exchange to local content production, local application development and local innovation. What we want to see is not just more people on the Internet but more people actually taking advantage of the social and economic opportunities the Internet offers,” Wooding said.

“The private sector, academia and governments all have to work in sync to create opportunities for digital innovators and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Internet and build on the local IXPs that now exist. We have to actively build the Caribbean cloud.”

Wooding was speaking as part of a panel discussion on developing the Caribbean Internet economy, held on the first day of St Maarten on the Move, a regional technology development conference jointly hosted by the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry and the Internet Society (ISOC) in Philipsburg, St Maarten. from October 27 to 28.

He co-presented with Eldert Louisa, chairman of the Open Caribbean Internet Exchange and chief technical officer of St Maarten telecom operator TelEm Group. Karen Rose, senior director of strategy and analysis at ISOC, moderated the panel.

St Maarten on the Move was part of Internet Week St Maarten, a five-day conference coordinated by the St Maarten telecommunications regulator, BTP, and focused on developing the Caribbean Internet.

The week started with the twelfth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, which was jointly held with the LAC-I-Roadshow of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, from October 24 to 26. A broad range of technical, social and policy issues related to Caribbean technology development were covered in the three-day event, held with the support of the CTU, the American Registry of Internet Numbers and ArkiTechs.