Curacao to host CaribNOG 8/LACNIC Caribbean 6

curaçao flagOne of the largest gatherings of the Caribbean Internet community will take place in Curacao in a few weeks. In September, the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) will co-host a regional forum where important issues related to the future of the Internet at a regional and global level will be discussed.

CaribNOG 8/LACNIC Caribbean 6 will provide a forum for technology industry specialists to meet, network and get specialised training. The highly-anticipated event is widely regarded as a solutions-oriented forum for regional technology professionals to share relevant knowledge, deepen practical understanding and develop new skills.

The week of meetings draws on the strength of two organisations that are committed to advancing Internet development in the region. CaribNOG has earned a reputation as a place to exchange information related to the management of Internet and telecommunications networks in the region. LACNIC, an international non-government organisation, is one of the five Regional Internet Registries that exist worldwide.

Cyber security, Internet exchange points, data centres, cloud computing and critical Internet infrastructure are among the main topics to be presented by a slate of experts that includes Carlos Martínez (LACNIC), Bevil Wooding (PCH), Mark Kosters (ARIN), Arturo Servin (Google Inc.), Claire Craig (UWI), Steve Spence (Arkitechs), Alejandro Acosta (LACNIC), Stephen Lee (Arkitechs).

The regional event takes place with the support of the wider global Internet community. Among its main sponsors are the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (Ams-IX), the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Columbus Communications, Google, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society, the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br) and Microsoft.

CaribNOG 8/LACNIC Caribbean 6 will be held from September 29 to October 3 at Hilton Curaçao Resort Hotel, Willemstad.

“Curacao is a very appropriate location for this event,” said Stephen Lee, one of the main organisers.

The island is one of the few in the Caribbean that has developed its Internet infrastructure to the extent that it is able offer data centre services to a global market, including the southern and eastern Caribbean.

“Technology-based services are an important part of the economy. They have modern high-speed connectivity, and there are some major fibre connections into the island that enable them to support the delivery of those services.”

More information is available on the official event website.

Columbus' Cache Machine: Supporting the Caribbean Internet economy

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao - Failing to convert brilliant business ideas to real returns is costing online entrepreneurs big time. That’s why in the Caribbean, stakeholders are starting to pay closer attention to external factors impacting their bottom line.

One such factor is the underdevelopment of critical Internet infrastructure in the region. Across the Caribbean, local Internet service providers (ISPs) are paying overseas carriers to exchange local Internet traffic between their local networks. This is an unnecessarily costly and inefficient way of handling in-country exchange of Internet traffic. And naturally, that expense and inconvenience are borne by the end-user.

But there is a better way, according to Kurleigh Prescod, Vice President of Network and ICT Services for the southern Caribbean at Columbus Communications, a major player in the regional telecommunications landscape.

Speaking at the 9th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) held at the Curacao World Trade Centre on September 11, Prescod acknowledged that the region was heavily dependent on foreign infrastructure for Internet access, especially U.S. infrastructure. But he shared valuable insights on how Columbus was responding to the regional challenge.

Citing the example of Grenada, Prescod identified the island’s Internet Exchange Point (IXP) as a key component of the critical infrastructure that allowed Columbus to work with other ISPs to exchange local Internet traffic between their networks without cost. Through the IXP, Internet traffic originating in Grenada now terminates on other local networks without having to go through lengthy, expensive, international routes, he said.

In Curacao, Columbus joined that island’s IXP (AMS-IX Caribbean), and is now working to support the Exchange’s caching operations.

“There are two sides to caching,” Prescod explained. “One is the caching box, which provides the content to the users. But you also have to get that content. So we are actually engaged in Curacao to provide that foreign content for those providers, cache it, and then serve it to the users.

“So not only are we a member of the AMS-IX, but we also serve the global Internet to all of the caching boxes in Curacao today. In the interest of supporting the development of the broadband economy here in Curacao, we thought it was important we do so.”

Prescod is also one of the board members of a third Caribbean Internet Exchange recently incorporated as a non-profit company in Trinidad and Tobago. And he is hopeful that the southernmost Caribbean island will be next in line to successfully establish a fully functional Exchange.

“At this time, we’ve only gotten consensus around seven Internet Service Providers that there should be an Exchange,” he said. “We’ve sort of decided on a technical model and we’re looking over the two to six months to implement that model.”

Prescod was speaking as part of a multinational, multi-stakeholder panel discussion in the morning session of the CIGF. Alongside him were Nico Scheper (Netherlands), Craig Nesty (Dominica) and Bevil Wooding (Trinidad and Tobago). Their discussion emphasised the essential link between the performance of critical Internet infrastructure and the stimulation of the Internet economy in the region.

“Establishing a local IXP can bring many benefits to Caribbean citizens, including faster domestic Internet traffic exchange and a more resilient local network,” said Wooding in a post-event interview.

He added, “IXPs are a critical component of the local Internet economy, but they’re not the only component.”

As a whole, the Caribbean region is served by only six IXPs. Apart from Curacao, they are in the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Grenada, St Maarten and Dominica.

Stakeholders from the Caribbean and Latin America gathered in Curacao to engage discuss and develop policies and structures for regional Internet governance. The CIGF, which was organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union at the request of the CARICOM Secretariat, emphasises a multi-stakeholder approach to the development of regional Internet Governance policy, drawing on the expertise and experiences of policy makers, regulators, service providers, content providers, consumer groups, academia, professionals, end users and other Internet interest groups in the region.

Where Dreams Take Flight: Curacao plans for space travel in 2014

Commercial space travel could come to Curacao as early as 2014.

Curacao Airport Holding managing director Maurice Adriaens announced the projected launch date for the ambitious project, during his presentation at the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which took place at the Curacao World Trade Centre from September 9-10.

 The island of Curacao is tipped to host SXC’s second launchpad, the first being located in an Air and Space Port in the Mojave desert, United States. Spaceflight participants will be launched from the Curacao spaceport into suborbital space above the surface of the Earth and then safely looped back to Earth, according to an online promotional video on the Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) official Web site.

 Addressing a multi-stakeholder audience on the second day of the Roadshow, Adriaens’ presentation highlighted the downstream economic benefits that would flow from the development of an indigenous commercial human spaceflight industry. The prospect of transitioning the island’s economy from traditional tourism to space tourism generated great interest in the room and amongst the foreigners represented at the regional gathering.

“It’s a good dream, isn’t it?” he asked. “So…who wants to be a Curanaut?”

Adriaens was among a number of local and international presenters from a range of backgrounds demonstrated the potential of ICT to impact e-health, e-learning, e-commerce, cyber security, telecommunication, and youth.

The spaceflight presentation was part of the CTU’s emphasis on technological innovation as an engine for Caribbean development. Organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Caribbean ICT Roadshow is now into its third year, having visited 17 countries across the region.

According to CTU secretary general Bernadette Lewis, the programme is “designed to foster a spirit of innovation in the adoption of ICT-based practical solutions to development challenges”.