In three years, the region’s Internet traffic “has grown by 150%”


In three years, the region’s Internet traffic “has grown by 150%”

The region’s latest Internet statistics are extremely encouraging. In the past five years, the number of individuals connected to the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean has grown by 12% and, from 2011 to date, Internet traffic has increased by 150%.

Likewise, in the past four years, the number of gigabytes consumed monthly by each connected home has doubled. In 2014, this number reached an average of 3 Gigabytes per month.

Nevertheless, certain major challenges are yet to be overcome, among them the inclusion of the 60% of the Latin American population which still has no access to the Internet. How can this be done? What type of plans should be promoted? Is quality access available to all Latin Americans?  These are only three of the questions that network operators will try to answer at the annual meeting of our region’s Internet community, LACNIC 22-LACNOG 2014, which will be held later this month in Santiago, Chile.

Ricardo Patara, chair of the LACNOG Board, lists the region’s achievements with great excitement, while ceaselessly trying to come up with solutions for those Latin Americans who are not yet online.

In an interview with LACNIC News, Patara addressed the challenges of connectivity, bandwidth consumption, the status of IPv6, and the Peering Forum to be held in Chile. There is still plenty to be done.

– What is the latest data available to LACNOG on the status of connectivity in Latin America and the Caribbean?

Generally speaking, connectivity has increased throughout the region. In the past four or five years, on average, the number of individuals connected to the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean has grown by 12%. This number is very close to the world average.  Overall, close to 40% of the population is connected.

– Which is the most important challenge that the region’s connectivity will have to face with a view to the next 10 years?

– Although the numbers mentioned above are very good as compared to other developing and developed countries, they are not yet high enough. On average, more than 60% of the population has no Internet access. Reaching these people is a major challenge.

Several recent reports and analyses show that mobile access is more feasible thanks to both its deployment speed as well as to the low cost of mobile devices and plans.

However, this comes hand in hand with another challenge, which is to provide quality access for the entire population. This has to do with end-to-end access and public IP addresses, as well as with regional interconnection to allow “localizing” content and even lower access costs.

– Do you know how much traffic has increased within the region?

– According to several studies, the region’s aggregated traffic is approximately 6,000 Gbps and has experienced a growth of more than 150% during the past three years.

– Has traffic increased within individual homes? How much bandwidth consumption is due to video traffic?

– There are studies that show that the average monthly consumption per connection (in Gigabytes) has doubled over the past four years, having reached 3 Gigabytes/month in 2014.

Consumption due to video traffic can represent more than 30% of total traffic.

– What can you tell us about the status of IPv6 implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean?

– In terms of the number of IPv6 addresses that have been assigned, we are doing well as compared to the rest of the world. More than 67% of the region’s Autonomous Systems have been assigned IPv6 blocks. This means that an important step towards deployment has already been taken.

In terms of the effective use of the new protocol, there is still a long road to travel. Peru, however, is an example worth highlighting, as more than 7% of the traffic received by its servers is received via IPv6.

– Are there any public policies in place within the region aimed at encouraging the adoption of this new technology?

– Initiatives have been developed in several countries such as, for example, Cuba, where the government requires that all equipment purchases must include IPv6 support. In other countries, governments are working together with operator groups and associations to set deadlines for deploying IPv6 for new users as well as for updating network equipment to include IPv6 support.

– How does our region compare to others in terms of IPv6 deployment?

– If we look at the number of assigned IPv6 addresses, the region is doing pretty well.

More than 67% of the region’s Autonomous Systems have IPv6. In this sense, Europe is the only continent that is doing better than Latin America and the Caribbean.

LAC has also assigned more IPv6 addresses than North America and is barely behind the Asia-Pacific region in this area. Peru stands out as regards to IPv6 utilization, as in other LAC countries less than 1% of total traffic is IPv6 traffic. The global average is 4%.

– Do operators believe there is a risk of an Internet “blackout” (failure to grow) if the process of IPv6 utilization is not accelerated?

– No such risk exists. The Internet continues to grow both in terms of infrastructure and number of users and services.

In June 2013, LACNIC entered a phase during which limited numbers of IPv4 addresses can be assigned. Europe went through a similar situation in 2012, while Asia did so in 2011. Even so, no collapse or blackout occurred.

There is, however, a strong concern that, without IPv6 deployment, the cost of Internet growth – handling and adding new users, deploying new services, etc. – will be higher now that IPv4 addresses are scarce.

Providers without IPv6 addresses must implement translation mechanisms, which are expensive and demand greater control on the part of user access.

Failure to deploy IPv6 means implementing more and more translation and, consequently, increased network operation costs.

Deploying IPv6 while simultaneously implementing the translation mechanisms that are now necessary means that, as more IPv6 services become available, less investment in translation will be required and thus costs will be lower.

– The event that will be held in Chile includes another edition of the Latin American Peering Forum, which aims at promoting interconnection among the region’s major Internet service providers, content providers, and Internet exchange points. What can you tell us about this experience? What are your expectations for this new meeting?

– In fact, this is the third edition of the Peering Forum. The first formal meeting was held in Curacao during LACNOG2013. However, the efforts aimed at bringing together individuals and organizations interested in establishing peering in Latin America and the Caribbean has been around much longer. The idea was born within LAC-IX and later adopted by LACNOG.

The experience has been very positive. We think we’ve managed to increase interest among ISPs and CDNs on the need to establish peering connections at Internet exchange points (IXPs) as well as at private level. For many medium and small sized ISPs, this is their first experience in contacting an IXP, a CDN or another ISP for the purpose of establishing a peering agreement.

The goal of the first editions of the Peering Forum was to provide the opportunity for ISPs, CDNs, and IXPs to meet and share their contact information. The goal of these later editions is that participants will use the Peering Forum as a focal point for setting up their peering agreements.

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