Two years ago, the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CARIBNOG) made its first appearance in Belize at a time when Belize was just starting to break free from the shackles of slow Internet and a lack of awareness of the positives of technology. This week, they have returned, and one might say, things have changed, a lot. Stephen Lee, the group’s program manager, tells us more about what will be discussed.

Stephen Lee, Programme Manager, CARIBNOG: Today Caribnog is a grouping of technical network operators, internet practitioners and the concerns there that we usually discuss there are along the lines of internet infrastructure, security, operating networks and so on. So this we will be dealing with some specific topics tomorrow. We will be discussing security. On Wednesday we’ll be looking at internet infrastructure, internet exchange points, how content is routed on the internet. On Thursday we’ll be talking about cloud. Cloud services as we know are very popular and we want to dive into that and see how consumers and network operators can engage in how to use the cloud, and then Friday will just be a general round up discussion on maybe some of the lighter areas in tech, wireless, some new innovations and so on.

The meeting coincides with a one-day regional gathering of the Latin American and Caribbean Network Information Center (LACNIC), called “Caribbean on the Move,” which engages with the Caribbean Internet Community to share knowledge about its technical services, raise awareness of prime Internet issues such as IPv6 adoption and LACNIC Community policy development, and listen to the Community’s experiences in fostering open, stable and secure Internet development. Founder and executive director of CARIBNOG, Bevil Wooding, says that initial meeting helped put Belize and the organization on the map as a means of human networking among the tech community.

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CARIBNOG: A very important aspect of Caribnog is networking. Not the technical side of it, the human side of it, and that Caribnog 6th meeting here in Belize City expose people to an understanding that there are others like them around the region that they can send an email too or pick up the phone and call. And I think that that has created an increased momentum in the developing of Caribbean Networking. But not just networks, I think that there are some very important end user benefits that we can also track with Caribnog. One is that there is an understanding that there is no need for countries, or citizens, or businesses to settle for inadequate internet connectivity. That there is no need for consumers or businesses to be paying exorbitant rates for internet services. We’re living in a world where increasingly, both the commercial and also the personal aspect of development is hinged on connectivity of the quality of the internet or internet services connected to the availability of devices like mobile phones, smart phones, tablets,, laptops, pc’s. These things are no longer high end options. They are now fundamental parts of what it takes to run a business, or to manage a government, or to take care of a country’s economy.

Wooding, who has been working closely with Belize in the last few years, told us of how CARIBNOG’s discussions help us locally, starting with a key product – Belize’s own Internet Exchange Point which can reduce costs of obtaining broadband services from international sources.

Bevil Wooding, Executive Director, CARIBNOG: One of the important aspects of this meeting, this week is to look again at what the service providers have to do to establish the internet exchange point here in Belize. We also want to look at the issue of content, a number of consumers are expect to have easy access to content particularly foreign content from Youtube videos and services like Netflix and Hulu. There are ways to bring that content closer to home, and in doing that to make it more affordable, and to make access a lot more efficient. Part of what CARIBNOG tends to focus on is how to bring that content into Belize and therefore how to make it more affordable and accessible to more consumers here in Belize, these are very important aspects here in this meeting. There’s another development that has been taking place, both locally and also regionally, and that is the threat of cyber crimes and cyber hacking, or those people who want to use networks for nefarious purposes. We’re looking at the issue of securing networks and for a lot of the attendees in this weeks’ meeting they will be trained in techniques in detecting network threats, and for counteracting those threats using different security action and protocols. That’s a very important party of securing networks. Most computer users are not always familiar with what happens in the back end of that. Educating the personally who are responsible for managing those networks really helps in creating a more stable and secure networks.

The meeting is taking place at the Belize Biltmore Plaza through Friday.