Saturday, 21 April 2018

Q and A with CANTO

Tell us briefly about what CANTO does?

CANTO is a non-profit association made up of operators, organizations, companies and individuals in the ICT (telecommunications) sector. The association has a Caribbean focus as it relates to ICT issues for the region with a global perspective. The policy strategy of the association is directed by a board of directors appointed by the membership. This strategy is executed by the staff of a permanent secretariat located in Trinidad and Tobago. The association’s activities are financed through the contributions of the members as well as other revenue generating projects.

Is CANTO involved in the forming of the CARICOM Single ICT Space?

CANTO supports CARICOM by providing a space on our platform and assisting in the general public awareness by promoting the initiatives to our membership and other stakeholders.

List 5 major achievement over the last 3 years for CANTO?
  • Successfully lobbied through the CANTO chair for future mobile services in the UHF Band to go forward to the World Radio Conference.
  • Initiated code of practice on Safeguarding the Open Internet. CANTO shares with the Policy Makers, Regulators and Operators a common responsibility to promote growth and development of the sector; this code of practice demonstrates a voluntary obligation towards preserving the open internet on behalf of the operators in the region. Based on the principles of self-regulation, the code promotes constant dialogue with all stakeholders and encourages good business practices.
  • CANTO encouraged the BVI regulator to accept a voluntary code of practice rather than introducing new regulation.
  • DPR project on risk management. A joint initiative with United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and CANTO Disaster Recovery Planning Working Committee.
  • Proposal and policy papers ranging from Broadband, OTT and Environmental Sound Management from the eight (8) working committees.
What is CANTO's position on Net Neutrality in the region?

In February 2013, CANTO published to all regulators and policymakers proposals on how Internet penetration can be accelerated in the region in its paper, ‘Incentivising Broadband Investment in the Caribbean Region’. CANTO’s research suggests that Internet penetration can be accelerated in the region by encouraging roll-out of the network by deploying:
  • Import Duty Relief;
  • Consumption Tax Relief and Tax Credits;
  • Reduced License Fees or Licence Fee Waivers for a specific period;
  • Universal Service Funds;
  • Human Resourcing;
  • More Government Services Online.
The industry through CANTO has signalled its intention to continue the dialogue with the Caribbean ICT Ministers through a collaborative approach to dealing with these kinds of issues in the region. Chairman of CANTO Julian Wilkins in an interview with the Antigua Observer stated that: "This was part of the principle of net neutrality that telecoms operators were willing to sign on to, but cautioned that if more "strict net neutrality" began to prevent operators from charging differently, according to their classes of Internet customers, the sector would take a blow".

CANTO is a telecoms organisation but the Vision and Mission relates to ICT in general, can you expand on this?

CANTO is a dynamic association. This means that the organization is constantly evolving to reflect the nature of the business of our membership and the sector which it serves. CANTO endeavors to be all encompassing in a sector that is always expanding and has a vision of inclusiveness. In short, we consider Telecommunications and ICT are interconnected and can no longer be viewed as two separate sectors.

List some issues that are on the front burner for CANTO at the moment?
  • Net Neutrality
  • OTT
  • Disaster Response Management
  • Digital Transformation
What are some customer gripes in the telecoms space?
  • Net Neutrality
  • OTT
  • Regulations
  • Spectrum Management
I see "CANTO Telecoms Boot Camp" on the website, can you give more info on this and when is the next one?

This was a very successful telecoms forum targeting new and seasoned telecommunications professionals. We are currently reviewing our training program and we invite readers to stay connected to our social media for more information on upcoming programs. We will offer two excellent courses at our upcoming 34th Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition in Panama ( 23 rd - 26 th July) at the behest of our members: (1) Step up leadership forum and (2) GSMA lead forum -
Leveraging Mobile to Achieve SDG Targets.

More info on the SONAR app and when will it become available to public?

The sonar app is in the testing phase and the team is seeking funding for the pilot projects from a few members, namely Haiti, St. Maarten, Belize, Suriname and Jamaica.

Why is LTE slow to arrive in Trinidad and is that something that CANTO is looking into?

CANTO's objective is to provide a platform whereby our members and suppliers can network and do business. The decision to adopt any type of technology is dependent on the operator’s strategic plan and their respective regulatory framework. That being said some of our members in Trinidad have already deployed LTE 4G.

Blog editor note - Sent this follow-up question and will update this blog post when and if I get a response - Why is TATT taking so long to announce LTE spectrum awards?

Anything else you would like to add?

Join us at CANTO 2018 the 34th Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition in Panama from 22nd -25th July, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Panama. Meet, network and create new business at a premier ICT event for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Person Profile - Ajmal Nazir, Technologist


Ajmal is speaking at the upcoming ICT Pro TT conference. His session is entitled "What is blockchain and decentralisation, and what does it mean for everyone". Blockchain and related Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are hot topics these days and I am guessing his session will get a lot of interest. I listened to him at the recent TTIGF forum and I feel like he is well positioned to speak on this.

His speaker profile highlights his formal education and various work he has done in the local (Trinidad) tech space. What caught my attention was his work with TATT and TTNIC. TATT is lacking in many areas especially from where I sit as a local tech blogger and they need to better respond to feedback and better manage their communications channels. TTNIC charges too much for .tt domain names and purchasing and managing a .tt domain name is too much of a hassle and not competitive. These things are hampering uptake and means we are not fully utilising our ccTLD and being denied the benefits of this. TTNIC has explanations, none of which I am buying. The other of his work that caught my attention was with TTIX. I applaud the progress made with this and the usefulness of this. From my questions to Ajmal I learnt that a second IXP was built in south for redundancy and also to be used by the niche operators in that area and an upcoming agenda item is for TTIX to apply for and receive its own IP address space (IPv4 and IPv6) and ASNs.

I asked him, "What are 5 concrete things we should do right now in the tech space in Trinidad and Tobago?" and this was his response, "Make use of the USF; Embrace blockchain; Introduce programming skills at school; Push e-governance harder, currently there is too little and too slowly; Make public sector data available to the public (open data policy)" and I agree with all of these. I also asked him about the snail pace roll-out of IPv6 in Trinidad. He thinks that there is little value in moving faster. He also mentioned that customers that want to get IPv6 are able to do so and this I did not know and will research.

His connection with Trinidad started in 2004 through work and investment. Since then he has been back and fourth and in the last 5 years he has settled down and started a family, making Trinidad his home. A main focus for him speaking at the conference on blockchain is to create dialogue and initiate thinking beyond that of what is current. He says he keeps up-to-date about the tech space in Trinidad through his work and his professional network. I applaud him for his participation in the local tech space and taking the time to help me get this blog post done. If you want to see more blog posts in this format let me know. This was a first for the blog and somewhat of an experiment.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Q and A with UWI Computing Society


Tell about UWICS?

UWICS is a club centered around technology, we are fascinated by its uses to do productive and entertaining things such as using drones for photography, automation systems and even video games. We encourage our members to take steps toward using fascinating technology in their everyday life or even contribute to creating new exciting tech.

What are some of the activities of UWICS?

Activities include sessions where members share their experiences using different technologies throughout their projects such as using the Unity game engine, web design and basic programming skills. There are other events such as our annual Runtime Programming Competition and Project Month which involves groups of our members attempting to incubate some form of software or hardware.

Are there enough (local) internship opportunities for Computer Science students? Is this something that the group would be tackling?

We don't directly tackle internships but our activities provide people with knowledge and opportunities to work on projects that may give members an advantage in an interview as it will separate students who just go to school and get their work done as opposed to students who actively take an interest in learning new technologies , practice presentation skills and work on mini projects to add to their portfolio.

What are the most difficult CS courses are why so?

The most difficult CS courses are Data Structures and Design and Analysis of Algorithms. These courses teach the importance of developing efficient code to get the job done. They are difficult because they encourage students to think in a way that they may not have previously had to in order to develop complex algorithms and get a deeper appreciation for problem solving. Another difficult course is Internet Technologies which focuses on web development. This course enforces the skill of learning new web technologies in short time periods and acclimatizes students to the environment of constantly changing methods and techniques of achieving different tasks on a web page. This is an important skill which breaks the mindset of needing to be taught something when there are lots of resources for one to teach oneself, which is necessary in constant web technology environment.

What is the difference between the BSc Information Technology and BSc Computer Science degree at UWI?

Computer Science more deals with creating software and developing algorithms and IT deals with applying software and hardware tools in real word situations.

Is there gender imbalance at UWI for Computer Science students?

Yes. I would say there is a gender imbalance as the club consists mostly of male members which is a common phenomenon in the ICT field. For this reason we have had sessions relating to gender diversity and promoted events such as International Girls in ICT Day which is a women only hackathon.

What are the challenges facing Computer Science students at UWI?

The biggest challenge faced by Computer Science students is the unsurety of where the market in the economy lies for our skills. Many who are passionate about coding wonder if they will end up in a career that involves developing software or some other sub field related to computing.

"Aims to educate its members about the role of computing, information and technology in everyday life." is stated on your fb group, can you expand on this?

People in the workplace often talk about social media being a big distraction for their employees and it can be observed that the majority of people are familiar with using technology of this sort. These technologies can be used for productivity rather than distraction as well as other technologies such as simply understanding how web pages work or basic programming knowledge. We try to encourage development of skills that can be useful rather than distracting.

Is there enough and good WIFI coverage at UWI and how would the group propose to fix this?

In the recent years the WIFI across UWI has been pretty decent. It is not the fastest in the world but it is great for the times when one has work to get done on campus.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Q and A with Cloud Carib


Briefly tell us about Cloud Carib and what sets you apart?

Cloud Carib is a trusted cloud provider in the Caribbean and Latin America. Headquartered in The Bahamas, we are focused on delivering secure and hybrid infrastructure solutions and managed services to the region through locally operated data centers in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, Panama and Ecuador. Our services and solutions are built with privacy, data sovereignty and performance in mind, ensuring business-critical applications are always secure and available. Our focus on delivering secure cloud solutions combined with our team of technical experts enables regional organizations to confidently leverage cloud technology, improve the performance of their ICT environment, and focus on providing value to their end-customers instead of worrying about maintaining infrastructure.

Cloud Carib is focused on building a team of experts from the region and around the world, and bringing them together to solve problems and deliver service excellence to our clients. Our team loves to tackle complex problems within the most challenging environments. This is what truly sets us apart.

What would you say to customers who are doubtful about moving to the cloud?

Moving to the Cloud can seem like a daunting task, especially if your organization lacks the adequate expertise, time and resources to do so. Working with a regional cloud services provider can alleviate this burden, and provide the necessary technology, tools and experience to smoothly transition your environment to a cloud-based model. Cloud technology enables organizations to be more collaborative amongst their business operations, and responsive to market demand and resource fluctuations. It also provides expertise on tap, enhanced security and more control over costs. The cloud revolution is here to stay, and organizations need to acknowledge that if they wish to remain competitive, relevant and innovative within this region.

The telecoms companies in Trinidad and the Caribbean provide cloud solutions and how would this be different from what you offer?

Telecoms in the region are primarily focused on providing cookie-cutter approaches to cloud solutions. Traditionally, they also limit the choice clients have in terms of choosing an appropriate carrier for their internet and communication needs, forcing organizations to only use their network. Cloud service providers are carrier-agnostic and provide more choice to create a truly customized environment that meets an organizations specific needs.

Your thoughts on mobile and containerised data centers and its usefulness to the Caribbean?

The deployment of mobile and containerised data centers is nothing new. The reality is that the practice stems from the drive to provide component or modular based designs within data center facilities. This is driven by the speed of aging out data center facilities post build. The rate of transformation is immense on what can be done today in terms of compute to power density. The area required to house 750 kva of compute resources previously required many thousands of square feet of facility space and today two racks will suffice. Space is no longer an issue; the problem is power consumption or the power-density ratio. Older facilities are simply aging out faster as the power, cooling and core designs cannot keep up with the power-density requirements. The best use case for containerised or mobile data centers is for short-term emergencies or as a part of a modular design for component-based facility construction.

Can you talk about green energy as it relates to cloud computing providers?

Data centers consume raw power and there is an active practice to reduce power waste, but power is the principle requirement for compute resource. The industry is making every effort to be energy efficient and green. Those adopting green practices tend to leverage Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE), airflow containment and other design features to optimize energy utilisation. Cloud providers may leverage their own facilities or leverage other facilities as the data center industry should be considered separate from the provision of cloud services. The data center industry has a significant portion of the market supplied by technical real-estate
companies – those that specialize in supply of data centers as a facility offering. Cloud service providers, telecommunication companies, and other organisations consume the facility as a service.

Tell us about the Cloud Free Trial (linked on your website) and who can sign up for this?

Our cloud free trial is geared towards organizations curious about cloud technology and how it can work for their business. They usually do not have any cloud experience, and are looking for the adequate expertise to get started. After a visitor completes the form, it is forwarded to our Sales team who will review their information, verify it is correct, and reach out to schedule a conversation to discuss their specific requirements. If there is alignment, we’ll facilitate a cloud trial period and consult the organization on how cloud can enhance their environment.

Does your services cover website hosting for the average business? (I am also a web developer)

Not directly. We provide the underpinning service that enables hosting. An example is that we can provide you as a developer a virtual data center (vDC) where you can host servers and, on that infrastructure, provide webhosting to your clients.

You mentioned cloud-first in a recent blog post. Can you help us understand what cloud-first means?

The concept of a cloud-first strategy is one where government officials, policy specialists, and regional financing agencies aid in advancing transformation. These people tasked with regional development must embrace cloud to truly provide transformational benefits to their citizens.

There is no longer a rationale for insourcing ICT for governments and most organisations that are not specialised in technology. The global consensus by the world's leading governments and the fortune 100 is to fully adopt cloud into every aspect of their operation. No longer can governments and businesses afford the cost of simply keeping up to the exponential rate of change within the ICT industry. Only by embracing a cloud-first strategy can leap-frog opportunities of advancement and cost savings be realised.

Is the state of internet in the Caribbean (subsea connections, IXPs, speeds, cost, etc.) enough to support this push to use the cloud?

Cloud Carib provides service from five data centers within the Caribbean today and we have plans to add an additional three to five in 2018. We are confident of the underpinning technologies within the region or we would not be building a Caribbean and Latin America focused business. There are significant subsea cable networks within the region and associated route diversity through carriers.

Although the cost of power and connectivity remain high within the region, the demand for service allows for competitive pricing which makes the Caribbean a perfect match for data residency.

Anything else you would like to add?

Cloud Carib hopes we can entice more companies within the region to form and provide cloud services and application services from the region. This region has developed trust over many decades by hosting company and personal assets for many. Cloud services provides the perfect option for hosting of data trust repositories where people can protect their information in jurisdictions where privacy, confidentiality, and trust are paramount. For more information on Cloud Carib, please visit cloudcarib.com