Nicolás Antoniello “15 years represents almost half of the time that the Internet has been around”
Nicolás Antoniello obtained his degree in Engineering practically at the same time that LACNIC was born. Back then, the Regional Internet Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean piqued his curiosity.
Soon after, Antoniello joined the voices at the LACNIC forums and began proposing regional and global policies while also working on Internet governance issues.
Considering his experience as chair of the LACNIC Public Policy Forum which kept him in permanent contact with the community, Antoniello highlights the role of the regional Internet ecosystem over LACNIC’s 15 years of existence.
What was your relationship with the world of ICTs like 15 years ago?
Fifteen years represents almost half of the time that the Internet has been around. As for me, 15 years ago I was working towards my degree in Engineering and wanted to apply all the knowledge I was acquiring and pursue other topics in which I was also interested, such as Internet governance, data networks and protocols. I began working as an engineer at the Operations Center of ANTEL, Uruguay’s state-owned ISP, where I fully entered the world of networking and the Internet. Back then, I remember practically all Internet providers offered dial-up services (modems and data rates of 44,100 bauds, a data rate unit which is no longer in use). We were just beginning to deploy the first DSL services in Uruguay, with all the problems and challenges that this “new technology” involved. I remember that in those years I was already participating in some regional and international networking and Internet discussion forums, some of them created within the framework of LACNIC.
When and how did your relationship with LACNIC begin?
My relationship with LACNIC began when the organization was created in Montevideo back in 2002, though at that time it was more out of curiosity about the Regional Registry, the work they were doing, and what they were looking to do from and for the region. And all I can say is wow! This vision and my own expectations, as well as those of the organization, its objectives, achievements and community have truly evolved in the 15 years that followed.
What roles have you played within the LACNIC community? Did they meet your expectations? What aspects would you highlight?
I have been active within the community since the very beginning, first through the discussion forums, later collaborating with the policy development process and submitting some proposals. Between 2009 and 2015, I had the opportunity to serve the community as Public Policy Forum chair and co-chair. I have attended most of the regional events that have been held (currently twice a year), actively engaging in multiple activities, particularly as an instructor for some of the technical tutorials. I have also had the chance to shepherd some policy authors and help them submit their first proposals. I was one of the co-founders of the regional Network Operators Group, which was promoted by LACNIC, ISOC and the community itself, and I have been traveling this long and challenging road with LACNIC ever since. I continue to participate in every policy forum and as a tutorial instructor. Right now, I am also serving as a community representative on the “new IANA” —or PTI as it is known after the transition— review committee.
As for my expectations, not only have they been met but I personally believe they have been exceeded. Chairing the Policy Forum, for example, is an invaluable experience from many points of view, as it is a task which is carried out in close cooperation with the community, by the community and for the community. In the case of our region, I feel that the community is one big family: every issue has been debated with the seriousness and objectivity it deserves, we all learn from each success and each mistake, and each and every one of us contributes according to their role and possibilities. I’ve witnessed how we all set aside the fact that we belong to a specific country, company or organization and work together to find the best solution to the any emerging issue, with the common goal of Internet development and access for all throughout our region.
What role do you think the LACNIC community has played in the management of number resources over the past 15 years?
I believe that LACNIC and the LACNIC community are the main drivers of Internet development and sustainability at regional level. The community conceives, debates and implements the policies that govern the assignment of the region’s most relevant Internet resources (IPv4 and IPv6, Autonomous System Numbers). But it does not limit itself to this task alone. There are also countless projects, training activities, discussion forums, active participation at international level, and many other things that have made our community very active and helped us gain global recognition. This recognition is an achievement not only of the community itself but also of LACNIC, the organization that brings us together. This ecosystem and these development processes are what we call “bottom-up,” which means that the community plays the leading role and provides the drive needed to make things happen. And we are all part of this community.
What are the LACNIC community’s identifying features?
In addition to what I already mentioned in my previous answer, I would add that over the past 15 years this community has learned to work together and to take advantage of its synergies. We’ve learned that making mistakes and correcting them to achieve better results is normal and even healthy. We’ve learned that by joining efforts we are capable of doing anything we set our minds to. I think it is a community that has matured immensely over the years, as has LACNIC. It is truly a pleasure to work with and to be identified and committed to this community.
How do you envision Internet governance 15 years from now?
If there is something I’ve learned over the years, it is that any expectation one might have had regarding the Internet has been dwarfed by reality. I can (or would like to) imagine our entire region connected and everyone being able to access the Internet. Coupled with the billions of devices that are expected to become part of the Internet over the next 10 years, this will bring about multiple challenges, problems that will need to be solved, and a need for policy development and management. The Internet and its governance are in constant evolution because of changing needs and exponentially increasing possibilities. The community’s role in this evolution is undeniable. Because the Internet respects no geographical boundaries, I believe that in certain cases we will need to consider governance models that are even more globally coordinated. However, there is only one network, so there is only one world from the point of view of the Internet. I have always said that one does not simply connect to the Internet but that, once each person (or device) is connected, they become a part of the Internet. While this may seem obvious, it is one of the key concepts that will define its future: the idea that all of us are the Internet.