(pour la version française veuillez cliquer ici)
It appears as though some CIRA members thought it would be a good idea to have me on the board at CIRA. Having recently been approached to participate in the Montreal Internet Exchange that CIRA is initiating, I thought that I'd look into this a bit more.
Here begins my path down the nomination and now the election process as a member nominee.
In truth, I received an email late one night at around 10pm asking me to be a member nominee. After reading it and seeing that the nomination window closed at something like 8pm the next day, knowing that the next day was already booked solid, I didn't give it much attention. So tomorrow rolls around, I get through the day and I have about an hour before its closed. So I figured what the heck lets at least answer the questions a-la-fast-fast, I figured I'd get laughed at or something. I think my answers weren't the best. Have a look here. The nomination process came and went and lo and behold I made it to the final round which is where we're at now. I figured I should apply myself and so a new blog is the best place I could think to put some additional thoughts down.
So here goes.
I started by reading up on the latest on goings, speaking to a few people in and around that scene. I came to the thought that though CIRA's core mandate is to run the CA registry, it is very well positioned to influence and help with things like internet exchanges (TekSavvy is one of the largest members by internet traffic volume of the Toronto internet exchange or Torix, we pass roughly 4.5gbps of traffic at peak). I got to thinking that since I was approached for exactly this reason that there are surely many similar areas where an entity like CIRA can really help and that are in fact aligned with TekSavvy's traditional positions over the years.
So here are some of my thoughts;
I take the view that CIRA has a responsibility beyond simply managing the CA registry. Further more is that I feel compelled to contribute on this front. I'd like to contribute for a number of reasons but here are the primary ones; I love the internet. I know a ton about it. I have lots of resources I can bring to the table. I think a portion of our customers that are very savvy can help bring some enthusiasm and attention to important issues. Most of all, I think CIRA can play a role in ensuring fairness and openness in today's digital age. I believe it can be an important factor in improving Canada's digital standing in the world. All with the aim of benefitting you and me! The average Canadian who thinks that something is really wrong here in Canada. It can and should be better!
I believe that CIRA should be promoting, facilitating and supporting initiatives that maintain and improve the infrastructure of the Internet in Canada, such as:
- responsible management of the CA top-level domain
- encouraging diversity of IP interconnect within Canada
- promoting awareness of infrastructural changes in the network (e.g. IPv6)
- monitoring and consulting on regulatory developments
- encouraging operator dialogue on operational/technical matters
- establishing performance metrics of the Canadian Internet
Responsible management of the CA top-level domain means efficient and practical interaction with registrars, tracking best current practice as deployed elsewhere and making improvements to meet it, and being a voice in relevant standards bodies and industry groups promoting Canadian interests and sharing Canadian experience. I think CIRA do a pretty good job at this today. I also think CIRA's attendance at ICANN, RIPE, DNS-OARC, etc meetings and their work deploying DNSSEC fits the bill very nicely. There's also the economics of it all, improving efficiencies and costs even further is always a reality. If lower prices are achievable, than great, we should always be on the lookout for new ideas to be as competitive as possible.
Canada is a big country, and topologically looks a lot like a northern spur out of Seattle and another spur out of Chicago/New York. This dependency on US networks has implications, e.g. the transfer of data with privacy implications outside Canadian jurisdiction, performance and reliability. Whilst the ideal of Canadian-to-Canadian traffic staying within Canada's borders needs to be balanced with commercial reality, there are initiatives that CIRA could provide to make things better. The recent launch of a CIRA-supported exchange point in Montreal is an example -- CIRA can provide accounting, legal and marketing support without reducing the ownership of the infrastructure by local communities. Even measuring the degree to which Canadian-to-Canadian traffic crosses the border would help frame the problem.
CIRA ought to be promoting events with a Canadian focus which draws operators together and lets them talk. Whether this is of the form of the Canadian Internet Forum or whether it's more grass-roots than that, the fact is that today operators and business owners who serve different markets really don't have established relationships. CIRA should explore ways to give network operators a better chance of forming relationships with other providers within Canada; the results will be better technical coordination, better shared understanding of the market environment and more opportunities to work together to find innovative, new solutions to common problems.
Finally, there is no good way for anybody to gauge the quality of the Internet in Canada from year to year, and hence no good way to tell whether the current market and its regulatory regime is working the way it is intended. I'll even go further, or the way it should work. Having spent way too many hours with lawyers picking fights at the CRTC, this is exactly the kind of information that would help bring a better understanding to fundamental issues that are so clear to some of us but so difficult to articulate to others. Issues like whether the state of rural internet access in Manitoba is better, cheaper or more available today than it was two years ago; there's no way to tell what IPv6 deployment looks like, or DNSSEC validation, or speeds available to the home in urban areas, or how performance to common content or to other Canadian users is changing over time. How many independent ISPs are there in Saskatchewan? How many communities have high-speed access to the Internet in Ontario north of Georgian Bay? Having a comprehensive report available which allowed these kinds of trends to be identified would feed into future policy development and allow their implementation to be measured regardless of ones stripes.
So those are my thoughts, they're important to me, I hope they're important to you too. If they are, I ask for your vote.
Here's how you do that - You need to have a .CA domain name (i.e. teksavvy.ca). If you don't have one.. well, TekSavvy can hook you up. That's not what this is about though. If you have one of those then you need to register as a member. You can do that here.
Have your say in shaping our Internet and our future. Vote for me online from noon (12 p.m.) ET on September 19, 2012 to noon (12 p.m.) ET on September 26, 2012.
p.s. I'll be in Ottawa on the 18th for the AGM. See you there.