When some of us in Latin America started to look for support to host an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting in our region, we realized that the challenge was beyond the gathering itself. In those countries where the IETF meets, the local community has additional opportunities to participate (no travel costs, people excited locally helps with additional engagement, universities can benefit with day passes, etc). But in order to be effective, there must be a critical mass already engaged. That was the challenge for the Internet Society as soon as the event was approved by the IAOC.
We used to say that there was a chicken and egg problem. The IETF meets in places “comfortable” to the current participants and, as a side effect, attracts additional participants from those regions. But, even though we have one, we can’t take the other for granted. In 2016, the meeting will be in Buenos Aires, but the local participants must be there too, and they should be already engaged in the IETF in order to benefit with the meeting. We’re now working in the LAC region to raise awareness on the importance of the IETF, to show the value it has for students, researchers and other Internet professionals, showing that the IETF leadership is serious on trying to engage with other regions and took the first step.
The Internet Society is not alone. Alvaro Retana (Routing AD) leads a group in Lacnog (the network operators community for LAC) to help those experts in the region who can contribute to the IETF. There are other organizations doing IETF promotion, such as Lacnic, the Regional Internet Registry for Latin America, and the Caribbean and NIC.br, the Brazilian Network Information Center.
The work plan has two objectives with activities aligned with them: Create awareness and facilitate participation. The groups we would like to engage include Academia, Network Operators, NRENs, and Broad technical community (open source, government, software companies, etc). There are planned activities for those “communities” in several countries. If you live in Latin America and you’re interested in the IETF, feel free to send an email to email@example.com to know what’s going on in your country or to suggest activities we can do there to improve IETF participation in your country.
For those already participating in the IETF mailing lists, we encouraged them to meet locally during the sessions of the Working Groups they’re following. Instead of an individual remote participation, several engineers met in different locations on what we called remote Hubs. For IETF 92 there were 15 remote hubs organized in 7 different countries: In Argentina there were five hubs: two at the network operator IPLAN, two at the ISP chamber Cabase and one at Palermo University, in Bolivia it was organized by the network operator Entel Bolivia, in Brasil at the Mackenzie University, in Chile at the Diego Portal University, in Perú it was at the network operator Entel Perú, in Dominican Republic it was organized by the Internet Society chapter and IPv6-at the INTEC University and in Uruguay one was at LACNIC, the regional Internet Registry and the local network operator Antel organizing two hubs.
The Internet Society is committed to support the IETF leadership in promoting additional participation mainly from those regions not yet engaged. We really appreciate the effort that other organizations are doing and we encourage you send us suggestions for activities or projects that can help on that regard. We look forward to seeing you in Buenos Aires next year.