[At-Large] Trip to the Caucasus
roberto_gaetano at hotmail.com
Thu May 23 18:37:05 UTC 2013
I took the chance of a non-ICANN-related trip to Caucasus to contact the
internet people, and specifically the At-Large structures, in the region.
I was not on any official ICANN mission, but believe that it is worth anyway
to write a short report of my contacts and personal considerations.
I am addressing this to different mailing lists with separate messages, to
I had a very interesting meeting in Armenia, hosted by ISOC AM, with the
The main points that came out from the discussion were (to the best of my
. The fact that the development of the internet in Armenia is
consistently more advanced than in some neighboring countries (for instance,
there are 3 ALSes) depends on a mix of elements, including the presence in
Armenia of highly skilled ITC professionals as well as the vision that has
identified since the early days the potential of the internet. This
experience will be very difficult to replicate in other countries, at least
in the short term.
. Thanks to the early vision, Armenia has developed the
"multi-stakeholder" concept also in the management of the internet at the
national level. The ccTLD operator, the ISPs, the At-Large structures,
commercial organizations, the government, are tightly collaborating, and
there is also the initiative of a permanent IGF forum in Armenia. This has
allowed to have very advanced positions in international fora, where all
stakeholders are contributing, and we do not have the situation that can be
seen in other countries, where the government is imposing its view.
. Looking at the map of the world, and the location of the ALSes, it
appears clearly that there is a wide area, namely the former Soviet Union
states in central Asia, where there is no ALAC presence. This is felt to be
tightly correlated with the fact that the position that these countries
bring in the international debate are only depending on government opinions.
In order to promote ICANN's multi-stakeholder approach, ALAC should make an
outreach effort to these countries with the objective of gaining members.
The general opinion is that this will be a difficult objective to achieve,
but nevertheless it is strategically important.
. The current location of Armenia in APRALO is creating serious
problems. It should be noted that the Armenian ccTLD operator is a member of
CENTR (the European ccTLD operators organization), ISPs are getting their
addresses from RIPE (the European Regional addressing organization), but the
Armenian ALSes are forced to be associated to APRALO. Considering the point
above, i.e. the Armenian multi-stakeholder model that brings together
different interests to cooperate at the national level, we have the strange
situation that national domain names and IP addresses depend from Europe,
while At-Large structures depend from a different region. Moreover, there
are at the At-Large level cooperation projects ongoing that are coordinated
by the European Union, and the location of Armenia in the AP ICANN region
does make little sense, if any. For instance, if EURALO develops itself as
the partner of the European Union for such European projects, it would be
extremely impractical to have participating ALSes being in a different
region. Further considerations have been the location of Armenia in Europe
in a number of different international organizations.
. Armenia, being part of the former Soviet Union, has kept a network
of contacts at the technical level with other operators that are part of the
Community of Independent States (CIS). One example is also the Regional
Commonwealth in the field of communications (RCC -
http://www.en.rcc.org.ru/index.php). This network is also important in the
discussions related to internet governance and for the decisions in the ITU.
. One question was raised, about what can ALAC do for the users.
This is a key issue, because it is hard to motivate individuals and
organizations to join ALAC if the only thing that they get is the
opportunity to participate in policy development. Budget should be earmarked
for initiatives that are useful for the internet users, like training.
To this, I would like to add some personal considerations on the development
of ICT, and specifically Internet, in Armenia.
I have travelled extensively, in cities and in rural areas, and have been
staying only once overnight in a place without internet connection, and only
once in a place that had internet connection but not WiFi. Please note that
I have never stayed in fancy hotels, but rather in hostels or guesthouses,
always in inexpensive places. This gave me the feeling of the ubiquity of
the internet in Armenia.
Besides internet, I witnessed the diffusion of mobile communications. It
seems to me that everybody has a mobile phone. I have seen not only bus
drivers talking on their mobiles (a plague that I see very often in my
country), but also shepherds in the countryside with mobile phones.
Considering that the next frontier of the internet is mobile devices, this
Unfortunately, I failed to ask confirmation at the meeting with ALSes, but
my impression is that Armenia took advantage of the progress in technology
in the years of their independence, and moved straight to new technologies,
when telcos in Europe and US (for sure this was the situation in Italy 20
years ago) were resisting change in order to protect and further exploit
their investments in previous technologies.
Another simple example of how the internet is affecting common behavior is
the police. This is the only country where I have seen police cars
displaying instead of the simple "Police" word in the local language the url
of the police web site: www.police.am. It might be the case in other
countries as well, but I have noticed it here for the first time.
More information about the At-Large