Successful IPv6 Deployment in Guyana

01/08/2022

Driven by the local technical community, the efforts of one of the country’s major operators, and LACNIC’s support in the form of strategic visits and training activities, Guyana has started leveraging the value offered by IPv6. 

Thus, this Caribbean country has accelerated IPv6 deployment to keep in step with the strong growth of the local economy and the country’s development.

But what were the reasons behind this decision? Given IPv4 exhaustion, the technical staff at Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT) realized that the only way to continue to create and increase connectivity in their country was through the significant expansion of IPv6.

Guyana has been successful to the point that, today, 23% of users have IPv6, a significant increase over the last three months compared to the numbers just three years ago (0%). GTT —Guyana’s largest telecommunications and technology provider offering mobile, broadband, fixed, enterprise, and wholesale services— has played a key role in achieving those numbers. Decision makers representing various sectors of Guyana, such as government and academia, have also played a relevant role.

Some time ago, many of these actors received a visit from LACNIC CEO Oscar Robles and Kevon Swift, the organization’s Head of Public Security. During each of his meetings with politicians, regulators, government officials, and representatives of telecommunications companies and Internet access providers, Robles stressed that Internet quality and development go hand in hand with IPv6.

Gas, oil, and the Internet. In 2015, Guyana discovered gas and oil in its territory and went from being one of the least developed countries in the Caribbean to achieving impressive economic growth, which has been accompanied by an expansion of the Internet. IPv6 deployment has happened at both corporate and residential level, Swift said.

Maheswar Kataroo, Senior Network Engineer and responsible for IPv6 deployment at GTT, found that the biggest obstacle to deploying IPv6 in their country was the technical community’s lack of familiarity with this new protocol. “Some people believe that managing IPv6 is like managing IPv4.” However, given the new frontiers and the need to improve connectivity in Guyana, the lack of IPv4 resources, and prior exposure to talks on IPv6, technical professionals such as Maheswar and others at GTT decided to receive training on specific topics such as transition tools, which would facilitate their goals of expanding and maintaining their networks. Now, he is a promoter of resources such as the courses offered on the LACNIC Campus.

Alejandro Acosta, R&D coordinator at LACNIC, observed that good coverage rates came hand in hand with GTT, thanks to their deployment of a Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON). “Because they are much more modern, it is much easier to offer IPv6 on GPON networks,” Acosta said, adding that they had done such a good job that GTT had gone from zero to 40% IPv6 traffic, while the entire country had gone from zero to 23%.

“It is a good sign when an operator makes a decision that manages to achieve good levels of deployment and has a positive effect on the entire country,” Acosta concluded.

In the opinion of Swift, these efforts can be traced back to the visit to the country in 2017, the organization of a LACNIC On the Move seminar, the emergence of a local technical community, and, above all, to the fact that connectivity should be the pillar that underpins the country’s growth.

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