Ricardo Patara: “LACNOG already plays a leading role within the regional Internet community”

01/08/2014

The Latin American and Caribbean Network Operators Group, LACNOG, has become a key player in Internet development throughout the region. Initially created as a forum for exchanging information among experts, this group has become a source of knowledge for the entire regional community on issues related to network operation.

Ricardo Patara, LACNOG chair, is preparing the community’s upcoming meeting – which will be held in Chile in October – at a time when the region is faced with a unique opportunity to move forward with IPv6 deployment. “We have the advantage of being one of the industry’s ‘youngest’ regions, and this gives us the opportunity to include the new protocol in our plans from the very beginning,” said Patara.

LACNIC News discussed this and other topics with Patara.

How has LACNOG, the community of Latin America and Caribbean network operators, grown? How many of the region’s organizations and professionals are now part of LACNOG?

LACNOG has grown exponentially. We started out as a mailing list, but in 2010 we organized a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, which was co-located with LACNIC and the local Brazilian network operators group.

Three years later, LACNOG has already taken center stage and become the most important regional event for network operators – more than 400 participants attended its 2013 meeting.

In addition to our annual meeting, the mailing list continues to be an important tool for solving problems and sharing knowledge. The list has also grown significantly and now has more than 800 subscribers (*).

Which issues or critical aspects have been detected in relation to the region’s networks? Has regional coordination managed to diminish the problems faced by operators?

The problems network operators face in their daily work are very similar in every region. This is what makes coordinating and sharing information within these groups so important.

Highlights of the topics we’ve discussed include IXPs, secure routing, network prefix hijacking, spam, and IPv6 deployment.

Exchanging knowledge, for example, about IPv6 deployment has helped many other providers deploy the new protocol in their networks, or at least motivated them to begin planning their deployment taking into account other successful experiences.

There are no more IPv4 addresses; now, the challenge to use IPv6. Is the region prepared for this? Have efforts in this sense been enough to avoid holding back Internet development?

Latin America and the Caribbean are not completely prepared or ready for IPv6, but we are not far behind as compared to other regions. Certain providers, including some in Peru, are already appearing on international statistics as having high levels of native IPv6 traffic.

There are efforts both on the part of the operators’ community as well as on the part of leading regional organizations such as LACNIC, ISOC and others who have implemented training activities, produced documentation, etc.

What we see is that IPv4 exhaustion has not slowed down the Internet, as it continues to grow in terms of its number of users, providers, services and applications. However, if we do not adopt the measures needed to deploy IPv6 as soon as possible, the ‘cost’ of this growth will be much higher.

We have the advantage of being one of the industry’s ‘youngest’ regions, and this gives us the opportunity to include the new protocol in our plans from the very beginning, both when purchasing new equipment and when training our professionals.

In your opinion, has the desired level of connectivity been achieved in Latin America and the Caribbean?

I would say it has. Back in the day, the main method for interconnecting networks located in different countries of our region was through links in Miami/USA.

Although many networks still connect through these links, many others are already cooperating and exchanging traffic within the region. Many other agreements are being negotiated.

There is much discussion going on at LACNOG regarding Traffic Exchange Points as a way to optimize communications and keep traffic within the region.

Practical results of these discussions can already be seen.

What is LACNOG’s point of view on the net neutrality debate?

This topic is relatively new and very important. It is also quite broad.

The group has discussed several specific topics, particularly those involving network operations.

One of the topics brought up by LACNOG at NetMundial was that networks should not be held responsible for the traffic that uses them. In other words, neutrality is a must and operators should not be charged with ‘controlling’ what is sent through their networks.

What are the key topics that will be discussed at the LACNOG meeting in Chile? Is there anything you would like to highlight about this year’s Network Operators Forum?

We have just published a call for presentations detailing our interest in multiple aspects of network operation.

We’ve noticed strong interest in topics such as IPv6 deployment, IXPs, CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), and secure routing.

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