Thursday, February 22, 2007

Internet workshop

Last week a workshop was held here in Guyana which was a milestone in the development of internet governance in the region. It passed almost unnoticed. Not really surprising since the internet infrastructure involved is not much understood by users and is largely hidden.
The workshop was on DNS (Domain Name Service) and was for those in the Caribbean involved in running the various country 'top level domains' or ccTLDs which allow internet addresses (domain names) ending in .gy (Guyana), .tt (Trinidad), .jm (Jamaica) etc to function. Pretty technical stuff but very necessary if the Caribbean is to catch up in terms of e-commerce and such like.
The countries represented were: Bahamas, Bermuda, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Monserrat, Trinidad. Cuba had been expected but, I heard, had a problem due to the new Caribbean visa introduced to help travel for the Cricket World Cup and alas did not make it.
Those present reported their status. Most were running their own name servers which meant that they were able to manage their country domains and deal with requests for domain names. Two countries were yet to reach this position and were planning to reclaim control (redelegation) from an overseas company to which it had previously been given. Most countries had some issues to discuss either technical or administrative. In many cases difficulties were arising because of lack of interest by the respective government. Fortunately this is not true in the case of Guyana, at present, where an oversight committee is actively working on policy and other issues.
The rest of the four days was spent going through technical aspects of setting up, running and testing name servers, policy issues and so on. See here for the workshop web site.
The workshop is one of a series run jointly by ICANN, ISOC and NSRC. The instructors were very helpful and are giving on-going support and assistance where needed. ICANN in particular is helping with redelegation issues.
The instructors seemed well-pleased with the organisation of the workshop by the University of Guyana IT Centre staff and complemented participants on level of functioning of their servers (while acknowledging there is much to do).
It was great to see the Caribbean administrators and technical staff here in Guyana. Several admitted misgivings on hearing the workshop was to be in Guyana but said they were glad they came since they found it different from what they expected and very much enjoyed their stay. Hopefully the experience will lead to much greater cooperation across the region in this sector and there are signs of that happening already.

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