Building the Central American Internet Community
Guatemalan voices meet for an historical LACNIC event
By Gerard Best
An historic meeting of different sectors of Guatemalan society was recently held in Guatemala City, an event organized by the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry, also known as LACNIC.
LACNIC On The Move Guatemala was the first meeting of its kind to be held in the country and brought together more than one hundred delegates representing the academic, technical, civil and government sectors, who participated in high-level talks and technical training activities presented by experts.
Even though it is the largest economy in Central America, Guatemala faces great inequality, generalized poverty, chronic malnutrition and high maternal and infant mortality rates, particularly in rural municipalities where up to eighty percent of the population is poor. Internet penetration is roughly 25% and subscription rates are still prohibitively expensive, which exacerbates the digital divide.
From 20 to 22 March, LACNIC On The Move Guatemala offered the opportunity of establishing collaborative networks among members of the Guatemalan technical community, including network operators, IT engineers, software developers and even Internet Service Providers competing against each other. The results of this extraordinary meeting were exceptional. Before the end of the second day, many participants had expressed their commitment to working together to establish the country’s first Internet exchange point.
Alfredo Verderosa, Head of LACNIC’s Services Department, described the meeting as an unprecedented success.
“We came here with two goals: creating a meeting place for the country’s various Internet stakeholders and sharing relevant information on technical topics such as Internet governance, the transition to the new Internet protocol, Internet exchange points, and cybersecurity. We are now leaving with the feeling that this event —the first of its kind— was very successful in both respects, as participants showed great interest in generating networking opportunities and learning more about the different technical topics addressed during the event,” he observed.
Another aspect worth noting is that the conference offered multiple global Internet organizations the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the men and women who build, maintain, regulate and use Guatemala’s Internet infrastructure. LACNIC organized this event with the support of the Internet Society and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
“Together, we have been organizing events like this for some time now, as they are very much in line with the spirit of the region’s Internet organizations,” said Rodrigo de la Parra, ICANN Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean.
What made the timing of the meeting even more special is that it coincided with the formal establishment of the Internet Society’s Guatemala Chapter.
Sebastian Bellagamba, Internet Society Regional Bureau Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, encouraged the new local chapter to continue working closely with other relevant organizations for the benefit of the local and regional Internet community.
Initiatives such as LACNIC On The Move have allowed LACNIC to train more than 15,000 technology professionals throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
“We look forward to continue working with other regional organizations to keep developing a more open, stable and secure Internet in Guatemala,” said Sergio Rojas, Registry Service Specialist at LACNIC.
“We would like to thank the ISOC Guatemala Chapter and SIT, the national regulator, for organizing this event with LACNIC. We would also like to thank the Internet Society and ICANN for working together on these issues that benefit Guatemala and the region as a whole,” commented César Díaz, Head of Strategic Relations and Telecommunications at LACNIC.
“We are very happy to have organized this event here in Guatemala”, said José Raúl Solares Chíu, Director of SIT, the national telecommunications regulator. “We look forward to LACNIC’s prompt return,” he added.