By Elesha George
The 18th regional Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) meeting brought together at least 30 ICT specialists, engineers and telecommunication representatives on day one of its three-day meeting at the Jolly Beach Resort yesterday.
The meeting, the first to be held in Antigua and Barbuda, was launched under the theme “Securing Caribbean Networks”, as focus will be placed on a range of stability, security and resiliency issues that are central to Internet development in the Caribbean region.
Network resiliency and security is expected to be a priority concern of the meeting, prompted by the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes in 2017.
CaribNOG Programme Director, Stephen Lee said the group has already “engaged in very specific initiative towards improving resiliency.”
Unlike other forums, CaribNOG aims to create an amicable and informal space for operators to meet. Lee explained that the group wants to bring together engineers and ICT professionals so that they can build relationships in a more relaxed environment and get to know each other in a “non-confrontational way”.
“We know across our region we generally have these incumbent telecoms operators and small operators who generally don’t talk to each other because there is hostility. CaribNOG is a forum in which regardless of which group you belong to and which operator and what side of the spectrum you fall, people are talking to each other and are helping each other. And coming out of those things we actually have very real relationships that are built where one engineer is able to call another engineer and talk about a problem on the interconnection of their networks. If that is happening and we’re sharing information with each other and through that allowing the regional infrastructure to get built up and improve, then CaribNOG is doing its work,” Lee explained.
Esworth Martin, the General Manager of Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), welcomed the meeting, acknowledging the need for partnership in the telecoms industry.
“The Internet has essentially become a utility,” he said, “and as the CEO of a utilities company, I’m very familiar with the distress encountered by consumers when life’s basic necessities are not available. Network operators like APUA understand that much more goes on in the process of providing a reliable and secure internet. Expanding this discussion beyond the walls of our company allows the experiences of our partners from across the industry to add insight and expertise.”
In his address, keynote speaker, Telecommunications Minister and current President of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) Melford Nicholas said without CaribNOG Caribbean Islands cannot meaningfully create a single ICT space in the Caribbean.
“I understand and the government of Antigua and Barbuda understands that CaribNOG is not merely about computer geeks, technical acronyms and training workshops. As President of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, I am keenly aware of the important role CaribNOG plays in accelerating the increase of the Caribbean’s capacity to manage and treat with the development of the Internet and all of the applications associated with it across the Caribbean.”
Nicholas revealed that CaribNOG is currently helping the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to conceptualise and design an Internet exchange point (IXP) for Antigua and Barbuda, as a further thrust to effectively distribute national resources among operators so that they can effectively co-exist and compete in the market place.
CaribNOG was established as an initiative of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in 2007 to support the development of the Internet networks and network engineering in the Caribbean region, primarily through building the relationship between the operators of the networks.
The group meets twice every year.