by Gerard Best,
LIMA, Peru—A top executive of the non-profit that oversees all the Internet addresses has described the Caribbean as “significant” to the governance of the global Internet.
Rodrigo de la Parra, vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), said the sub-region’s geopolitics give it “strategic” importance and the potential to punch above its weight on the global stage.
“If you look at the Caribbean in terms of population, it’s not that representative, but if you look in terms of the nations, it’s huge. It’s perhaps even larger in number than the rest of the Latin American region,” de la Parra told the Guardian.
The demographic diversity of the small-island states’ relatively small populations makes them “unique” and more representative than their larger, more homogeneous Central and South American neighbours, he said.
De la Parra was speaking in an interview during an annual gathering of the Internet community organised by the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC) in Lima, Peru.
The weeklong event was “an opportunity for stakeholders from the Caribbean served by LACNIC to update themselves with regard to current issues” affecting the region, said ICANN Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Caribbean, Albert Daniels. Hundreds of delegates gathered from May 18 to 22 for talks on Internet governance and other issues affecting the evolution of the regional Internet.
Not only is the Caribbean quite significant, de la Parra said, but its significance is growing. The region’s resident expertise and capacity have been increasing substantially, in large part through the efforts of active agencies on the ground, such as the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).
“In terms of Internet governance, the Caribbean is an example to the world,” de la Parra said, adding that the work of the CTU has set the region apart.
“The Caribbean Telecommunications Union has been the leader in the world in the discussion of Internet governance. Even at the global level, there have been fewer Internet Governance Forums than in the Caribbean, and the CTU is leading these efforts.”
In addition to its Caribbean Internet Governance Forum, the CTU pioneered the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, which has become a global model for building basic digital awareness and enhancing advanced technical capacity in rural or remote areas.
To ensure the continued expansion and security of the Internet in the region, de la Parra said, bodies like ICANN must continue to work alongside the CTU, the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), the Internet Society (ISOC) and other key regional Internet organisations, such as the two regional Internet registries with responsibility for the Caribbean—LACNIC and the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).
The two Caribbean RIRs collaborate on a range of initiatives to improve the regional Internet. In July, they are to host a meeting of Caribbean ministers with responsibility for Internet and telecommunications in Miami, as part of an annual industry conference held by the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations (CANTO), a regional association of service providers.
The main goal of the meeting is to encourage high-level decision-makers to deploy the latest version of Internet Protocol, called IPv6. Caribbean Internet service providers have been relatively slow to adopt the new technology. Studies 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.
The current Internet Protocol, called IPv4, does not have the amount of address space necessary to deal with the rapidly increasing number of connected devices that send and receive information online. ARIN’s stock of available IPv4 addresses is expected to run out soon.
“We’re sponsoring a ministerial breakfast to do outreach on IPv6 targeted at the top-level—the ministers, the CEOs—about why it’s important to transition to IPv6,” said Leslie Nobile, Senior Director of Global Registry Knowledge at ARIN, told the Guardian.
The two RIRs work together in the region on an informal basis, driven by a recognition of the benefit of their collaboration to the communities that they serve, Oscar Robles, LACNIC Executive Director, told the Guardian.
“We met in some of the regional forums, and we realised that we were doing similar things, so we said, ‘Let’s coordinate,’ We said, ‘Let’s work together, rather than compete,’” Robles said.