Caribbean Winners Top Internet Innovation Awards

Two Caribbean teams are among this year’s top awardees of the Regional Fund for Digital Innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean, a programme known as FRIDA. The teams, from Cuba and Dominica, won cash prizes for designing solutions to educational and environmental challenges facing the region. 



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How Caribbean Networks Are Upgrading

Forward-thinking network operators in Latin America and the Caribbean are using the Internet’s next-generation protocol, called IPv6, to gain a business edge over their competitors. The upside for customers is better quality of service, and in the long term a more future-proof regional Internet. The Internet Protocol, or IP, is the method by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet. Each device on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet.

Since World IPv6 Launch on June 6, 2012, several major websites such as Google, YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook have started rolling out IPv6.

Today, the message to ISPs is clear: don’t wait for other competitors to switchover to IPv6, and don’t wait until your clients switchover to your competitors.

“The old protocol, IPv4, doesn’t give the Internet any no room to grow, so in the near future, new clients and devices will need to connect using IPv6. Internet penetration is increasing worldwide, and more and more types of devices are connected. Internet providers need to take the IPv6 transition process very seriously in order to meet this growing demand in a satisfactory way,” said Alfredo Verderosa, Manager of Services at the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Address Registry (LACNIC), a non-governmental organisation based in Uruguay.

In the last months, IPv6 penetration among Internet users has grown in markets such as Guatemala, where about seven per cent of people using the Internet now have access to the new protocol. Verderosa expects that IPv6 transition will soon have a very positive impact on Guatemala’s Internet landscape.

“Although the numbers aren’t huge, they are still relatively good, since many countries’ adoption rate is actually closer to zero per cent,” he said.

While Guatemala’s IPv6 deployment is not high in absolute terms, it remains among the top in the region, alongside others like Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. For Guillermo Cicileo, Coordinator of Security, Stability and Resilience at LACNIC, the key takeaway is that there is at least one operator providing IPv6 to Internet users in Guatemala, and others operators won’t be too far behind.

“It’s important for ISPs to start the switchover soon, because failure to deploy IPv6 puts them at a serious disadvantage compared to those who have,” Cicileo said.

Verderosa and Cicileo were among several Internet experts gathered in Guatemala City for a three-day regional technology conference called LACNIC On The Move, held at Hilton Garden Inn from March 20 to 22. 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, and has more recently taken an active role in promoting IPv6 deployment across the region, through initiatives such as LACNIC On The Move.

“LACNIC also provides basic and advanced IPv6 training in-person and through its online campus. Our IPv6 Portal IPv6 is a great place for operators seeking free downloadable resources or more information about IPv6,” said Cesar Diaz, Head of Strategic Relations and Telecommunications at LACNIC.

Originally published: Caribbean Journal

Dominica hosts regional IPv6 workshop

In the Caribbean, we routinely use our smartphones, tablets, laptops and other connected devices for work, play and everything in-between. Every device connected to the Internet is identified by a unique address, and thanks to the swift growth of the Internet, very little now remains of that finite stock of numbering resources. The current system of Internet number resource management, called Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), is near depletion. At a ceremony in Miami in February 2011, the last batches of IPv4 addresses were disbursed to the five regional Internet registries that manage those resources in the different regions of the world.

Unlike Europe and Asia who have run out, the Americas are now in the final phases of allocating remaining resources. Two registries service the Caribbean—the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC).

ARIN expects that all remaining IP addresses for North America and the parts of the Caribbean they serve will be claimed before the end of this year.

“In the coming weeks, for the first time in history, an organisation will come in and request IPv4 address space and qualify, but we won't have it in our inventory to fulfill the request,” said Richard Jimmerson, ARIN's chief information officer recently told Ars Technica.

IPv6 Transition

But all is not lost. The Internet is in the midst of a major transition to a new version of IP addresses known as IPv6. And while IPv4 resource allocation has hit a critical stage, there is plenty of IPv6 address space available for anyone who wants to use it. The updated version launched with 340 undecillion addresses, more than enough to addresses the shortage.

The Internet Society has already observed that more and more IPv6 networks around the world are seeing a lot of IPv6 traffic. Popular websites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, and Wikipedia have been using IPv6 for quite some time now.

An Apple executive announced on the first day of its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) that the AppStore would soon require IPv6 support for all iOS 9 apps.

“Because IPv6 support is so critical to ensuring your applications work across the world for every customer, we are making it an AppStore submission requirement, starting with iOS 9,” said Sebastien Marineau, Apple’s vice president of Core OS.

Slow Caribbean deployment

Still, Caribbean Internet Service Providers have been sluggish to adopt the new technology.

In a pair of exclusive interviews, top officials from ARIN and LACNIC discussed Caribbean ISPs’ slow rate of IPv6 deployment.

Leslie Nobile, Senior Director of Global Registry Knowledge at ARIN, told the Guardian that about 43 per cent of ARIN's ISP members in the Caribbean had already received their IPv6 allocations. That figure compares well with the percentage of allocations already given to ARIN's U.S. and Canadian ISP members, about 47 per cent.

But LACNIC chief technology officer Carlos Martinez told the Guardian that, compared to their North American neighbours, Caribbean ISPs have been relatively slow to actually deploy the new technology. LACNIC’s figures on Internet traffic show a global average IPv6 adoption rate of around five per cent, while the region lags at less than one per cent, he said.

Organisations such as Caribbean Network Operators Group, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and Packet Clearing House have been raising awareness of the need for regional organisations and governments to transition their networks to IPv6.

“Anyone responsible for managing an IP-based network should adopt IPv6 priority as if the future of their networks depended on it, because it does,” said Bevil Wooding, internet strategist with Packet Clearing House. Wooding has been instrumental in raising the awareness of IPv4 exhaust and the need for IPv6 transition in the Caribbean.

“Securing IP addresses stability is key to safeguarding the bourgeoning Caribbean digital economy. With IPv4 coming to an end and Internet growth continuing to rise, there is no time like the present to make the shift to IPv6. It’s simply too important an issue to leave unaddressed.”

 ARIN on the road

The urgent need for IPv6 migration featured high on the agenda at a free ARIN on the Road event held in Roseau, Dominica on June 18. Two sessions led by Leslie Nobile will cover IPv4 depletion and IPv6 uptake in particular. The one-day event brought participants up to speed with the status and forecast of IPv6 adoption, and how to request and manage Internet resources.

Transitioning to IPv6 is very possible, and the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses in the region just provides operators with one more reminder that now is the time to make the transition. One hopes that the ARIN event also helped to do exactly that.

Originally published: Trinidad and Tobago Guardian