Stephen Lee facilitates a session at CaribNOG 6, Belize.

Over 100 computer networking specialists and enthusiasts gathered in Belize City, Belize for the sixth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG).

The weeklong event drew local and regional participants to Central America’s only English-speaking territory for a series of presentations and hands-on technical workshops delivered by Caribbean and international computer experts.

CaribNOG co-ordinator Bevil Wooding described the volunteer-based group as important to ongoing efforts to strengthen and protect Caribbean computer networks from a host of new threats.

“The headlines have been filled with stories of computer hacking, unauthorised surveillance and damage or loss caused by failed computer systems.”

Wooding explained that “CaribNOG provides unique regional forum for local network technicians and technology professionals to share experiences and build practical skills needed to take the region into the future.”

Etienne Sharp, a Director at Alternative Networks Limited, a Belize-based Internet service provider, was full of praise for the event and particularly for its relevance to Belize.

“This is my first time at a CaribNOG event and I am quite impressed by the approach to sharing knowledge and highlighting important technical issues such as network security, Internet exchange points and IP network design.”

Sharp said that the typical culture in the industry has been for professionals to work in isolation, and the potential for collaboration has been a real eye-opener.

“The sessions spoke to the core issues we face on a daily basis as network administrators and technology specialists. In addition to the high levels of collaboration, I was also glad to see that most of the experts are drawn from right here in the Caribbean.”

IXP coming to Belize
One of the major outcomes of the event was a public announcement by Belize ISPs of their intention to form a local Internet exchange point.

Kingsley Smith, Director of Telecommunications at the Belize Public Utilities Commission shared that the event gave the local ISPs an opportunity to hammer out the issues and draft an implementation plan for facility to exchange Internet traffic between competing service providers.

“This development is expected to provide significant benefits to local ISPs and the Internet users in Belize,” according to Smith.

The Belize Public Utilities Commission was the local host for the event and has committed to assisting the local technical community by facilitating follow up technical training.

CaribNOG 6 was also supported by a number of regional and international Internet development organisations, including the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) and US-based Packet Clearing House (PCH). The next CaribNOG regional event is scheduled for Dominica in April 2014.