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Open Internet Standards 8 May 2015

How is Latin America contributing to the Internet standardization?

Sandra Céspedes
By Sandra CéspedesAssistant Professor, Universidad de Chile

The Internet, as we know it, stands over a set of open protocols and procedures that are defined by Internet Standards. The volunteer adherence to such standards has guaranteed compatibility of networking software and applications, and has allowed for the development and rapid growth of the “network of networks”.

One of the core standardization bodies behind the development of standards is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The group is open to anyone who wishes (and has the knowledge) to participate through reviewing, commenting, and proposing new specifications. However, according to statistics provided by the IETF Chair, Jari Arkko [1] , the top ten countries contributing to the publication of RFCs (that is, the formal documents where the standards are specified) are all in regions outside Latin America. The leading countries are USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

The trend, however, is starting to change. Institutions and professionals from all over the world have realized that an active participation from all regions is key for the Internet to remain open and inclusive.

Taking a look at statistics that consider all documents submitted to the IETF, that is, published-standards and under-review specifications, it is encouraging to find that, among 70 different contributing countries, seven Latin American countries make their presence:

  • Argentina (23 documents)
  • Brazil (7 documents)
  • Chile (5 documents)
  • Uruguay [2] (2 documents)
  • Cuba (1 document)
  • Colombia (1 document)
  • Ecuador2 (1 document).

The Internet Society, aware of the limited role that emerging and developing economies were playing in the IETF, decided to open a program that supports engineers from under-represented regions to attend the IETF meetings. Several Latin American engineers have already benefitted from the program and that is reflected in the statistics. In addition, there is the IETF-LAC group, which helps promote the IETF in Latin America and the Caribbean, discuss Internet Drafts (I+D), and coordinate activities in the region related to the IETF.

Together with the aforementioned initiatives, it is important that engineers receive support from employers, Universities, and Governments, in order to improve the Latin American presence in the Internet standardization process. Only through an increasing involvement, our region will come to have a better understanding on the impact of global Internet standards and the way professionals from our region can foster a global participation.

If you want to participate in the IETF-LAC group discussions, you can subscribe to the mailing list:

Info about fellowships to attend the IETF from under-represented countries can be found here:

[1] http://www.arkko.com/tools/docstats

[2] Uruguay and Ecuador do not show up in the statistics due to a misinterpretation of postal addresses.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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