[EURO-Discuss] R: Trip to Caucasus - Chapter 3 - Georgia

Roberto Gaetano roberto_gaetano at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 5 23:31:56 UTC 2013

Thanks Wolfgang.
I stand corrected for the balloon.
I heard nothing about governmental control of the media, and based on my
personal impressions, I don't believe there is one.
About the .ru, I have not checked any site, but I exchanged emails with
people having email addresses under .ru, and had no problems. I am under the
impression that the relationship with Russia are normalizing. The fact that
the Russian/Georgian border is now open for all nationalities is an
indication of this.
I heard back then about the cable damage, but I had completely forgotten
about when I was in the Caucasus, and heard nothing about it neither in
Armenia nor in Georgia.

> -----Messaggio originale-----
> Da: euro-discuss-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org [mailto:euro-discuss-
> bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org] Per conto di "Kleinwächter, Wolfgang"
> Inviato: venerdì 5 luglio 2013 17:01
> A: Discussion for At-Large Europe
> Oggetto: Re: [EURO-Discuss] Trip to Caucasus - Chapter 3 - Georgia
> Thanks Roberto for the very informative report.
> Did you hear anything about Internet censorship, governmental control of
> media and the blogosphere in this country? How was the access to the .ru
> domain, which was stopped during the Georgian-Russian war a couple of
> years ago? Is there any discussion about the case where the line to
> was cut (by a digging woman) which led to an Internet blackout in Jerewan?
> See you soon
> wolfgang
> BTW, the Google project is not with satellites but with balloons
> http://www.google.com/loon/. Here is an interesting legal question. The
> balloons are flying 20 km about sea level, that is in the airspace of a
> The border line between airspace and outerspace is about 80 km. However,
> if the balloon is over the ocean (20 km from the coast line of a country)
it is
> not under any national jurisdiction. And the Convention of the Law of the
> has no paragraph to regulate this.
> ________________________________
> Von: euro-discuss-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org im Auftrag von Roberto
> Gaetano
> Gesendet: Fr 05.07.2013 14:37
> An: 'Discussion for At-Large Europe'
> Betreff: [EURO-Discuss] Trip to Caucasus - Chapter 3 - Georgia
> Hi all.
> Following up my previous reports on Armenia and Azerbaijan, I would like
> continue with Georgia. I will also have some final considerations on the
> region, and some recommendations, but that will be part of a future
> message.
> My main contact in the country was Ramaz Kvatadze, from the Georgian
> Research and Educational Networking Association (GRENA -
> http://grena.ge/eng/). I had a very good meeting with him, and other short
> occasional conversations with other folks.
> The main points that came out from the discussion with Ramaz were (to the
> best of my recollection, in random order, after validation by Ramaz):
> ..         There is an ISOC chapter, not member of the At-Large, some
> are participating in ISOC Community Grants programmes.
> ..         The infrastructure is in average good, but there are
> differences between big cities and remote villages.
> ..         While the main problem in the countryside is connectivity, that
> must be improved, the main complaint in big cities is compliance of the
> operators with the promised quality of service.
> ..         The government has undertaken efforts for developing
> as of today there are many applications that allow citizen and
organizations to
> obtain certificates and make declarations online.
> ..         The scientific and research community is not active on ICANN
> matters because there is no benefit associated to its participation.
> ..         The scientific and research community has strong collaboration
> with similar communities in other Caucasus countries as well as other
> geographical areas worldwide, but the main interest and efforts are
> to cooperation with Europe.
> ..         Although Georgia feels strongly more European than Asian, the
> current location in AP as ICANN geographic region is not felt as an
> However, the main goal of Georgia is to become real member of European
> community.
> ..         The adoption of new technologies (mobile telecommunication,
> internet) have been slowed down initially by the monopoly situation, but
> now the competition among operators favours rapid development and
> strong improvement of the infrastructure.
> ..         The main obstacle for further improvement of the ICT
> infrastructure is lack of financial resources, as private business is
unable to
> invest in development in rural/mountain areas as these are scarcely
> populated and there will be not enough return on investment.
> ..         Georgia has good relationships with both Armenia and
> organizing regional meetings in Georgia is easier than in the neighboring
> countries. In fact almost all regional meetings are organized in Georgia.
> To this, I would like to add some personal considerations.
> I have travelled extensively, in cities and in rural areas, and have found
fair to
> good internet connectivity. I have experienced a difference between cities
> and countryside, which confirms the feedback I had from Ramaz.
> However, the improvement of the connectivity seems no simple task, and
> other comments I have gathered from different sources, mainly individual
> internet users, is that the overall connectivity is not the first
priority. From a
> different source, I have learned that Georgia is planning to lay down a
> backbone cable that should connect east and west Georgia running close to
> the southern border (unfortunately, I was unable to get confirmation of
> from other sources). It seems that addressing the risk of a cut in the
> Georgian communication (between east and west Georgia) is a higher
> priority than addressing the connectivity in remote areas. The reason
> appear obvious to people who know the recent history and the current
> threats of the region.
> I am under the impression that tourism, that is a flourishing business in
> Georgia, and rightfully so, can be an incentive to the improvement of the
> internet infrastructure. For instance, my last day was in Batumi,
touristic area
> on the Black Sea, close to the border with Turkey. I have found a large
> number of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, that were offering free WiFi.
> the other hand, I compare this with Mestia, in the Svaneti, another place
> with high touristic potential, but on the Caucasus mountains, where no B&B
> offered WiFi, and I was unable to find any establishment included it. My
> assumption was, although it was difficult to verify this with the local
> that the limited bandwidth in some areas was the limiting factor.
> But, as I said, it is just my personal speculation.
> I had another example of the situation in remote areas travelling to the
> Tusheti area (in the Caucasus mountains, north-east Georgia). The electric
> and telephone lines, installed in Soviet times, were abandoned because the
> cost of maintenance was too high, leaving the whole area without power and
> connectivity. It has to be said that the road itself to Omalo, the largest
> in Tusheti, is passable only by 4x4 vehicles and the Abano pass itself is
> from October to May because of snow. However, the population got
> organized: almost every household has solar cells and is therefore
> autonomous for electrical power, and there are GSM (solar-powered) cells
> that ensure mobile phone connectivity to the valley. I was impressed by
> and thought that this could be an example for other parts of the world,
> where laying cables is too costly. Incidentally, at about the same time I
> the recent news about the experiments on internet connection via satellite
> in New Zealand, which shows that new ways are being explored.
> Talking about mobile phones, there seems to be excellent market
> penetration.
> While it is true that the monopoly situation has slowed down the progress,
> my observation, in cities and also in remote areas, is that the initial
delay has
> been caught up. There is a wide offer, and if you get a local SIM card you
> reload it also at ATM-like machines that are widely available for
> types of payments.
> The last comment is about the geopolitical collocation of Georgia. I have
> say that travelling through the country I had the impression to be in
> Just the signs in Georgian alphabet reminded me that I was in the
> As a matter of fact, this proximity to Europe made me forget to inquiry
> another topic I wanted to get information on: the need, or not, for IDN.
> However, I have the feeling that, while this is probably an issue in large
> the main problem in scarcely populated areas remains the connection.
> Best regards,
> Roberto
> Additional note for EURALO: we need to seriously think about the regional
> distribution of the countries. I have seen the latest recommendation
> (http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-22jun13-
> en.htm),
> maybe we should have a quick check in Durban about the subject.
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