Technology

Tech Matters: Building the Human Networking to Grow the Caribbean Internet

by Bevil Wooding

The inaugural Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Connection Forum (CarPIF), held in Barbados last April, quietly marked the opening of a new chapter in the development of the Internet in the Caribbean.
Such gatherings, called peering forums, are designed to bring together senior decision makers from internet service providers, cloud providers, content delivery networks and other related entities in a neutral environment to discuss the interconnection of their networks. Peering forums are commonplace in other regions, from Europe and North America, to Africa and Latin America.

Peering Matters

Why are peering forums important? Simple – Interconnection of the computer networks that comprise the Internet is dependent on human networking to establish those connections. The functionality we enjoy when we view a photograph, watch a video posted by someone half-way around the world, or send an email to a friend in a distant land is brought about by the decision of network and cloud service providers to interconnect their network. The quality of the service we receive from those providers is dependent, among other things, on how far or near those interconnection points are from sender and the recipient.
This is why CarPIF was such a special and historic event. It was the first time such a forum was organized to specifically encourage greater interconnection among providers delivering Internet content and services to Caribbean consumers. It was also the first time the economic underpinnings of the peering arrangements that define the Internet, were discussed in such a context, using Caribbean data and Caribbean examples to a Caribbean audience.
Importantly, the event saw peering coordinators from the Caribbean building relationships directly with their international counterparts from major Internet companies such as Google and Akamai. Peering forums are a main way for service providers to establish the relationships and
agreements that allow them to get content closer to final destination. The actual events may not have public appeal, however, their outcomes can directly influence the quality of internet services, and economic opportunities in a region.

IXP Enabled Development
Peering can be defined as the exchange of data between IP networks on primarily a settlement free basis. Network providers such as Cable and Wireless, Sprint, Digicel and others own high-speed connections that make up the Internet. These providers transfer data between each other at locations called “peering” points or Internet Exchanges. At these sites the networks ‘meet’ or interconnection with one another over so called layer-2 infrastructure. These systems are then globally tied together by connecting high-capacity fiber optic lines owned by network service providers.
The proliferation of Internet exchange points in the Caribbean has created the opportunity for content providers to now deliver their content closer to Caribbean audiences. In practical terms, this can translate into a tangible improvement in the quality of Internet surfing experience for users. YouTube videos, for example, can be download with little to no buffering, because internet servers can deliver them from a local source, as opposed to a far way international source.
“The ever-increasing amount of video and other rich media content is placing new demands on the Internet. Peering is now an essential component of most network strategies to improve their customer experience and cost efficiencies,” said Martin Hannigan, Director, Networks and Data Center Architecture for Akamai Technologies, a major cloud computing services and content delivery network (CDN) provider.
“This Caribbean peering forum was a great opportunity to meet our customers in the region and establish important new connections. We are actively exploring options for putting our content caches at the internet exchange points that are being built in the Caribbean.”
In the past, when there were no internet exchange points in the Caribbean, service providers like LIME and Columbus (FLOW) would have to pick up the content all the way in Miami, or elsewhere, to deliver to local users. With the implementation of local IXPs in the Caribbean, ISPs can now all benefit by picking up the content users want to access much closer to home at content caches stored at the IXP. And that’s a good thing for Caribbean Internet users.

First of Many
The CarPIF event organized by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), a volunteer-based community of Caribbean technology practitioners. It attracted over forty technology experts from major regional and international Internet companies, telecoms regulators and Internet exchange point operators to Barbados. Organizers intend to make it an annual event and plans are already afoot for a second, larger CarPIF event in Curacao in 2016.
The meeting was supported by two non-profit internet organizations, Packet Clearing House (PCH) and the Internet Society (ISOC), along with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. It agenda included expert speakers from major internet organizations including Google, Akamai, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and the Latin American Internet Registry (LACNIC).

Milestone not Destination
The fact that the region’s first peering forum has been so successful is testament to the increasing maturity of the Caribbean Internet community, and the increasing regard for that community by international players in the Internet space.
There is certainly cause to celebrate the positive strides the Caribbean has made in deploying critical Internet infrastructure over the past few years. However, there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly as it relates to the reliability and efficiency delivery of Internet content to Caribbean consumers.
Implementation of some exchange points is still being hindered by oppositional and self-serving actions of dominant ISPs, seemingly to be desperate to cling to models of operation that are proven to not be in the interest of consumers or market growth.
There is also room for greater technical training and broader local community awareness and support, especially from developers of local content and services.
The process of changing attitudes, increasing awareness, encouraging innovation and fostering greater collaboration amongst competitors and encouraging will take time.
The inaugural CarPIF is a great milestone, but the journey to a more robust and resilient
Caribbean Internet has only just begun.

Bevil Wooding - Profile PhotoBevil Wooding is an Internet Strategist for Packet Clearing House (PCH), a US-based non-profit research organization. He is also a founding member of the Caribbean Network Operators Group. Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding

Island XoXo, A New Caribbean Dating Website Launched

islandxoxo-imageBRADES/HOUSTON – Caribbean people still looking for love have a new platform which can help them find the love of their lives.
Island XoXo, a new dating website targeting Caribbean nationals went live on June 8th, 2015.
The site can be accessed at www.islandxoxo.com and is owned and operated by Island XOXO LLC of Houston, Texas.
Developer Sherylene Dyer, who is also a national of Montserrat said Caribbean nationals who register on or before July 7th, 2015 will receive free unlimited access to the site for one year.

Dyer says that “unlike many dating websites, Island XoXo has a strong social platform. The service is not exclusively for romantic hopefuls, but also caters to those interested in meeting and mingling with Caribbean people for either friendship or social gatherings.”

Registered members can personalize their profiles, upload photos and videos, create and join groups, seek and give relationship advice, and create and manage blogs. They can interact with other Caribbean people through a variety of media to include email, instant messaging, and group chats.

Island XoXo also aims to make finding suitable romantic prospects easier. “Singles can browse all members or utilize advanced filters to narrow prospects. Other features include a Flirt Box, chatroom, a variety of privacy settings, and a Shy Tool that allows individuals to blur their faces until they are ready to reveal their facial identity,” the developer explained.

Members can receive gifts from secret admirers or send gifts under the guise of anonymity from the Gift Store. Island XoXo will facilitate the ordering and shipment of all gifts allowing names and contact information to remain private and confidential.

Seasonal competitions, such as Valentine’s Day contests, create avenues for winning prizes and awards will be an added feature.

Dyer added that the launch of Island XoXo represents another thrust towards realizing the dream of a united and integrated Caribbean.

According to the Urban Dictionary XoXo means Kisses and Hugs. X=Kisses and O=Hugs

Contact Island XoXo at info@islandxoxo.com or follow on Facebook.

Google Commits to Supporting Caribbean IXPs

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados—The first-ever Caribbean Peering and Internet Connection Forum (CarPIF) successfully concluded with commitments from Internet companies Akamai Technologies and Google to pay closer attention to the needs of Caribbean Internet service providers and consumers.

More than 40 regional and international technology experts met in Barbados on May 27 and 28 to discuss strategies for improving the economics and technical efficiency of Internet content delivery in the Caribbean.

The meeting, organised by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), explored the state of Caribbean Internet infrastructure, the impact of local Internet exchange point (IXP) deployment in the region, and practical steps for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of Internet service across the region.

The gathering was supported by two non-profit Internet organisations, Packet Clearing House (PCH) and the Internet Society (ISOC), along with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union.

It attracted Internet service providers, including Cable & Wireless and Columbus Networks, as well as telecommunications regulators and IXP operators from across the Caribbean. International participants included the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and the Internet Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC), search-engine giant Google, and Akamai, the world’s largest content delivery network provider.

“The success of the region’s first peering forum is testament to the increasing maturity of the Caribbean Internet community, and the increasing regard for that community by international players in the Internet space,” said Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist with PCH and a main organiser of the event.

He said that while the region recently made “positive strides” in establishing critical Internet infrastructure, there was still “considerable room for improving the reliability and efficient delivery of content to Caribbean consumers.”

Wooding, one of the co-founders of CaribNOG, is responsible for establishing the peering forum, together with Shernon Osepa, Regional Outreach Manager for ISOC, an organisation that encourages and supports peering forums in other parts of the world.

“ISOC was pleased to be able to work together with the CaribNOG community and Packet Clearing House to stage this first peering forum in the Caribbean,” Osepa said.

Arturo Servin, who works on content delivery and peering for Latin America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula at Google, shared on the mega corporation’s experience in bringing its content closer to Caribbean customers. Google Inc. is the company behind popular Internet services such as YouTube and Gmail.

“Google wants to bring its content as close as possible to Caribbean audiences,” Servin said. “We are currently exploring options that will allow us to better service Internet service providers and IXPs in small markets like those in the region.”

Google committed at the meeting to support IXPs in the Caribbean, and used the opportunity to meet face to face with IX operators and regulators from across the region.

“This was a great opportunity to meet our customers in the Caribbean and establish new connections,” said Martin Hannigan, ?Director, Networks and Data Center Architecture at Akamai Technologies.

“These types of gatherings are commonplace in other regions, so it’s great to see the Caribbean establishing CarPIF and putting things in place to make it possible for consumers and businesses to have a better Internet experience. That improved customer experience is the real point of peering and it’s what matters most.”

Organisers announced plans for the second CarPIF event to be staged in Curacao in June 2016.

ICANN chief to step down in early 2016

Hours after announcing his resignation, Fadi Chehadé, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, left, fields questions from members of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (Lacnic) at the Lacnic 23 conference, held in Lima, Peru on May 21. At right is Oscar Robles-Garay, CEO of Lacnic. Photo: Gerard Best
Hours after announcing his resignation, Fadi Chehadé, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, left, fields questions from members of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (Lacnic) at the Lacnic 23 conference, held in Lima, Peru on May 21. At right is Oscar Robles-Garay, CEO of Lacnic. Photo: Gerard Best

By Gerard Best

LIMA, Peru—The head of the non-profit group that oversees all Internet addresses will step down in March 2016.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) President and CEO Fadi Chehadé sent notice to the board on May 21 telling them that he would leave after an annual meeting to be held in Morocco in March.

Hours after the news broke on Agence France Presse (AFP), Chehadé addressed representatives of the regional Internet community gathered in Lima for an annual conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC).

He said that during the remaining 10 months of his tenure, ICANN would redouble efforts to give greater power to the global, multistakeholder Internet community of governments, businesses, organisations and users, so that no single entity would have the authority to determine the future of the Internet.

Chehadé has been overseeing ICANN’s transition away from the longstanding US-centred arrangement toward a more global oversight of ICANN’s core responsibility for the Internet.

Chehadé had earlier commended the ICANN staff for moving the organisation from a predominantly US-based operation to a global institution with offices and relationships spread around the world.

At stake in the transition process is the control of a vital stake in the rapidly growing global digital economy, which could exceed 4.2 trillion US dollars by 2016, according to a Boston Consulting Group study.

“As the digital economy grows, the pressure to take control of things will grow as well, and it is incumbent upon us to show that we are prepared and mature and ready,” he said.

For the last 25 years, ICANN has been contracted by the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to manage the assignment of Internet names and numbers globally. That collection of responsibilities is referred to as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) stewardship function.

Chehadé’s resignation will take effect shortly after the US government receives a plan to implement the transition of the IANA stewardship function to Icann and the global Internet community, including Regional Internet Registries such as LACNIC. A release from ICANN said Chehadé would remain available to support the transition to a new leader after March 2016 as well as to advise the board on the IANA transition.

“I am deeply committed to working with the board, our staff, and our community to continue ICANN’s mission as we still have much to accomplish,” Chehadé told AFP.

“I think this is the right time and the right thing to do.”

Chehadé has also also overseen the launch of new top-level domains, such as .google and .cricket. That process that has increased ICANN revenues under his tenure and brought the operations of the nonprofit agency under heightened global scrutiny.

Chehadé said he has accepted a job in the private sector, outside of the domain name space which ICANN supervises. He said he would disclose the name of his new employer later this year.

Grenada launches business grants for innovators and entrepreneurs

Government to host CARCIP Awareness Day

By Gerard Best

ST. GEORGES – Innovators and entrepreneurs in Grenada will soon benefit from a suite of new grant funding opportunities.

CARCIP Awareness Day is free to the public.
CARCIP Awareness Day is free to the public.

The Grenada Ministry of Communications, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities, ICT and Community Development will launch the business grants and outline the application process at an event called CARCIP Awareness Day.

“Innovative firms and individual drive new products, processes and services that create growth and employment. Innovation boosts productivity, which is the key to faster economic growth and rising living standards,” said Alice Bain, who coordinates the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) in Grenada.

The Grenada government, through CARCIP, has promoted collaboration between industry experts, the private sector and government to generate new opportunities for technology-enabled businesses. The CARCIP Awareness Day will reveal the various opportunities available under the program.

Held at the Grenada Trade Centre Annex on May 19, the event will start with an opening ceremony at 9.30 am, and continue with interactive sessions throughout the afternoon. A slate of technology experts will share perspectives on the potential of telecommunications technology to transform regional business, government and society.

“Technology is a cross-cutting sector and has implications for all individuals and businesses. The fact is that the Internet is growing rapidly and no one should be left behind,” Bain said.

The event is part of the wider ongoing effort by the Grenada government to support Internet-based economic growth, under the umbrella of CARCIP. The objective of CARCIP is to increase access to regional broadband networks and advance the development of an ICT-enabled services industry in the Caribbean Region.

Funded by the International Development Association of the World Bank and coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, CARCIP seeks to help governments and private sector to harmonise the development of critical telecommunications infrastructure across three participating Eastern Caribbean countries—Grenada, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

CARCIP Awareness Day is free and open to the public.