22 November 2021
1 p.m. (UTC + 1)
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Let's go ahead.
DR. CORRINE CATH: Thanks so much to RIPE for inviting me to give a talk about my Ph.D. research and the questions of the sharp edges of engineering and networking cultures, in which I ask us to really critically reflect on who the enemy in in our communities and who is included more specifically to help make sure the Internet can continue the Internet work.
This is a bit of an introduction. As already mentioned, I am a recent graduate from the Ph.D. programme at the Oxford Internet Institute. I am an anthropologist of technology, which means I study the people behind the rough consensus and the running code.
Now, before I start my talk, I want to quickly draw your attention to this comment made by Dave Clarke, and he made it in 1992 during a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force, a key body that I am sure many of you in this room will have direct experience with, and his statement was meant as a comment on the IETF's cultural practices, in particular to push back on the perceived top‑down imposition of the OS I protocol by an Internet architectural board. What I want to do is use his quote and reposition it to draw some broader inferences about the role of organisational cultures in enabling but also inhibiting the ability of a wide variety of potential contributors to participate in technical debates, including those heard today here at RIPE.
Now, just to clarify, I am aware of the differences between the IETF and RIPE, but I do believe that some of my observations about what I call the sharp edges of IETF culture might also be of interest to the RIPE community. So about today's talk, I will outline the importance of organisational cultures of technical organisations for ensuring that the Internet continues to function well, and without as little hiccups as possible. And I'll do so in four parts.
First, I will sketch who the us is that participates in technical discussions. I'll do so by drawing on the number of recent reports but also academic literature that highlights the importance of diversity and inclusivity of the technical management of the Internet, including the current lack thereof.
Secondly, I'll produce some findings from my Ph.D. reference to some that sometimes technical communities can be their own worst enemy, I'll do so from drawing from my findings on the revenue edge of the cultures of the Internet Engineering Task Force and also sort of ask you will of a us to reflect on how these observations potentially also apply or don't apply in the context of how RIPE works. And a central point that I'll be making today is that the IETF is often praised as being open and accessible and having open and accessible culture, especially through its focus on frank and rough discussions but I also show how these particular working practices can lead to the excluding of individuals and expertise that refuse or won't adapt to its particular organisational culture and how we thereby might be losing out collectively on really important perspectives.
Lastly what I want to do is show how my research speaks to broader themes of conversations also taking place at RIPE especially around diversity and inclusivity. Organisational cultures and other sort of human aspects of the Internet's management are often overlooked but they are really key aspects in defining who is or isn't invited to participate, which I hope we can discuss in the final part of my talk.
Now, I also want to say it's really great to be back at RIPE. In May 2015, I gave a presentation at RIPE based on my then‑master's thesis, for which I looked in the different ways the IETF does and does not consider the impact of their technical decisions on human rights. At the time this was quite a controversial topic and I got some really great feedback, as well as pushback on my work from the RIPE community, which ended up being really helpful in formulating my subsequent Ph.D. research.
At the moment, not everyone thought that RIPE was the right audience for my research or agreed with my conclusions, and in the room in 2015 was Professor Jan Aart Scholte, who is a global governance scholar, who also reference this, and he watched my presentation and after the presentation he came up to me and he essentially told me, you know: I wasn't sure if I was going to tell you this, but I sat next to a technical guy, a network operator, during your presentation", and he said ‑‑ "and you might want to know what he said about your presentation" ‑‑ and he pointed at his notepad and said: "Here, I jotted it down". This network operator, in response to my presentation, said: "Ah, yes, young female anthropologist pushes all the wrong buttons."
And, you know, this network operator's comment implied that it was better to leave the politics of technical work unspoken, a comment that stuck with me so deeply that it actually became the title to one of my Ph.D. chapters, and, as such, it feels really full circle for me to be back at RIPE six years on, now that I finished my Ph.D. and I look forward to seeing how the community responds to my work this time around.
So, a couple of numbers.
It will come as no surprise to this audience that there is a diversity issue in many technical communities. In the Netherlands we see that only 27% of all women enrolling in bachelor programmes go into STEM fields. In the US we see only about a quarter of cybersecurity identifying as women, with the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities being low. RIPE keeps quite limited official participation statistics, but looking and the room and drawing from the efforts of Shane Kerr to measure whether RIPE has a diversity problem, which were his words, the answer seems that there are comparatively little women participating. Similarly, when we're ‑‑ I'm just seeing that someone has some trouble hearing me, but we're going to continue. Similarly, the IETF, you see about 10% of women at any given meeting.
Now, gender is obviously not the only access of diversity that we should care about but I use it as my main example here given that day allows me to do the comparisons across countries and technical communities which is harder to do for other markers of diversity, such as racial or ethnic identity or age. And why does this matter? Why should we care about diversity? I mean, there is a number of well known means that it matters to have a some of diverse people in the room that reflect a broad array of backgrounds and life experience and, given the work that RIPE is already doing on this, some to mention are ‑‑ I mean, then I don't necessarily need to go into depth as to why it matters because the community is clearly already aware and working on this.
What we see is that it's not such researchers and practitioners who are worried about this but industry also worries. The concern around the lack of diversity in organisational cultures that are rough is very much alive within the industry as for instance this blog published by CloudFlare in October of this year shows.
Which brings me to RIPE. So, telling this talk to the larger topic of interest to RIPE and, in particular, your ongoing discussions about diversity, I wanted to talk about one the biggest challenges to the diversity that came up in my Ph.D. research, namely humans, and I knows there is quite a bit of research and discussion about how humans are the weakest link online. I mean, examples of end users have poor security practices, weak passports, or falling for tricks like phishing e‑mails, there is plenty of that. And this is really important work. But I want to actually shift focus away from the users of products or end user practices, and really take a critical look at the individuals. So, everyone in the room today that are developing the policy and technology for network management. And how our sort of collected daily practices which, you know, are also known as culture, can be exclusionary and alienating to individuals who could bring important contributions to technical discussions. What I'll try and do is do that through the findings of my Ph.D. research on human rights within the engineering Internet task force. Again, I want to stress I'm neither here to pick on the IETF nor suggest that RIPE, that the RIPE community suffers from the same kind of cultural challenges as the IETF, but, rather, what I hope is that my observations will generate a positive discussion about what is needed beyond RIPE's work on Code of Conduct to sustain the community long term through a diversity of participants.
So, the IETF up close.
I'm sure many people have already heard of it and in other talks this is usually where I say the IETF is one of the oldest Internet‑standard setting bodies and it's around for over 30 years and it builds crucial technologies that ensure diverse networks and products can interoperate.
But, I won't do that here. As I know, from the IETF ID that Jan Zorz and Chris Grenamen wrote about operators and the IETF, that RIPE is not only well aware of the IETF's existence, but even has pretty strong feelings about it, as the quote I highlight on my slide demonstrates. And given these findings, and RIPE's collaboration with the IETF, I believe the IETF's function and culture should be of interest to this audience.
Which brings me to my Ph.D. research. I did research on the efficacy of human rights defenders working alongside corporate engineers in the Internet Engineering Task Force, and specifically I looked at their effort to develop human rights standards that are what they call conducive to the protection of human rights online or human rights enabling. What I show and argue is that the IETF's culture plays a pretty big role in inhibiting the human rights advocates from getting their concerns included in discussions within the IETF. Primarily as their contributions are seen as outside of the realm of the responsibility of the IETF, or outside of, you know, the interest of many of its corporate participants in growing the Internet and making it faster.
Now, in the process of my Ph.D. research, for which I spent three years at the IETF, I also collected quite a bit of data on the aspects of the IETF culture that make it hostile and particularly to women and minorities. And these findings speak beyond the confounds of the IETF and suggest that we must include organisational cultures in our understanding of how to create pleasant working environments, whether or not we're talking about standards or network management.
Now, a couple of quick words about my methods and how I collected my data and arrived at my findings.
I am an anthropologist of technology and, while anthropology is often seen as the study of human culture in remote locations, many anthropologists are turning a critical eye to their own societies and, likewise, many anthropologists have written about technology cultures and these kind of studies help us answer important questions about how technologies get made, how technical communities are formed, what ties them together, who is included, who is excluded, what technical experts care about and how their particular preferences and values translate to the technology they make.
So, what does anthropology do? Well, we try to understand how people view the world by interviewing people, participating in the world and getting community in their language both spoken and by machines and, as an anthropologist famously said, we make the familiar strange. We do so, the question taken for granted knowledge and understand how it shapes, how technology gets built.
What do anthropologists do? Well, we push buttons, by which I mean we try to ask critical questions about unspoken norms, sharp knowledge and how that steers, how communities self‑organise, including around the development of technologies like the Internet. In my case, it meant submerging myself in the IETF, by attending its meetings over the span of three years, interviewing a lot of people, analysing mailing list conversations and reading as many RFCs as was humanly possible in four years.
And before telling you what I learned about IETF culture and how telecommunications includes important voices that have meaningful contributions to make, I want to take a step back to literature, to sketch an overview of what is already known about tech cultures from the work of other anthropologists, and how that might be of interest to all of you how as it provides an outsider's perspective on your day to day reality which might make some of what is familiar to you strange again.
So we know quite a bit about the dominant cultural practices of various tech communities like those that comprise of hacking, of free and Open Source software, as well as big platforms and the books on my left‑hand side are books on technology that explain how these kind of organisations function. It shows that, you know, from these work we have essentially learned a lot about the values and collective social behaviour of technologists, engineers and network managers and how these drive the technology they have built for us and where their visions of the network should be resonate or come up short.
This existing work also demonstrates how many technical communities maintain cultures that are at best hostile and at worse can be actively racist or misogynist and these social dynamics in the background play a really important role in excluding the participation of particular books, particular women, minority and non‑traditional participants like human rights defendants as well as the perspective they might bring to those conversations. At the same time from an academic perspective, not a lot is known about how these dynamics may play out and this is sort of the knowledge gap that my research aims to address.
So, in the first section of this talk, I provided a broad line of the role of us, the technical communities and the culture of organisation that is we work for in shaping what concerns are consider relevant in networking conversations. What I'll do in the remainder of this talk is present my findings about the exclusionary effects of some of the IETF's inner workings and how this could inform the discussions within RIPE, or, in other words, I'll try and provide some additional details about how sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.
Usually, what I do at this point in my talk is that I sketch a picture of what the IETF is like by taking you there, and I'll do a shortened version of that as I am sure many people here have already been to the IETF.
So imagine you are in a large ballroom of a five‑star Hilton, the air‑conditioning is blazing as you are in Bangkok or Singapore. You forget exactly which one because you are still trying to recover from an awful jetlag that comes with attending an IETF meeting, and front of you is a large scream screen that outlines a proposal by some of individuals in the Working Group you are attending. One speaker in the front of the room is giving his presentation. As he speaks, a queue of individuals forms behind the question microphone. You see one of the speaker's regular detractors queue and you sigh, both in anticipating of the spat that will now erupt and because you know exactly what will happen as these two have been at odds with each other 2004 over two decades. "Hi, Jim," says the person addressing the speaker, "over the past years I have heard you say an awful lot but I think your presentation today takes the cake." This isn't necessarily helpful or helpful at all. We tried this ten years ago and it didn't work for the following reasons:
You zoom out for the rest of the question or statement. As the meeting ends you see the two gentlemen in question engage in further debate, at a tone that makes the hotel staff nervous, unsure if a first fight is about to break out.
This particular thing was written on the number of a basis of instances where I saw at the IETF where its participants got into really heated interactions, in which their personal disagreements clearly entered into these conversations about technology. But, when I read about the IETF in preparation of my field work, rarely did these rough edges of its inner working come up in the literature, quite the opposite actually.
So, when we look at the academic literature about the IETF it's described positively. Yet, I also found it to be a bit homogenous, somewhat insular and conservative and quite a number of different topics.
So, I am going to highlight for you some of the IETF's working practices to demonstrate how these can be discriminatory or exclusionary. The exclusionary aspect of the IETF's confrontational working practices are clearly reflected in the IETF's non‑official tradition of loud men talking loudly. Now, this working practice often arose in my interviews when I asked how the IETF worked and it's also reflected in my previous attempts to transport you to the world of protocols. The IETF's guidance document for newcomers at the time for example warns that participants can sometimes be surprisingly direct, sometimes verging on rude. And I attended multiple newcomer sessions over the course of my field work and I was really surprised about the levity with which newcomers were ushered into the IETF's hostile working culture. One veteran, I mean veteran IETF participant, used to share advice as "don't take it personal, people are just very passionate", to deflect critical questions about the roughness of some of the IETF's way of working.
And many IETF participants actually insist that such acrimonious practices are crucial to developing good protocols because confrontation is often seen as key both at the IETF's social functioning as well as how to develop standards.
Now, within academia there is a theory of ‑‑ that describes that connection. So, Leach and their co‑authors describe the salience of confrontation in the context of Open Source communities as a reciprocal academic because better software is seen as dependent on particular social practices and ideologies whilst these practices and ideologies are given salience by their success in fostering valuable production.
And many of the IETFers that I spoke to saw their confrontational approach in the same way. They felt that good protocols could best be made through butting heads. Sometime they did overlook how its particular working culture made it so that newcomers had to accept behaviour that was well, rough. As part of the course of working in the IETF or, as one the women that I spoke it about her decision to stop attending the IETF said: "There are only so many times I am willing to be mistaken by someone's wife or shouted down when I tried to raise a valid question before I decide that enough is enough. Women get plenty of this in their personal lives; I don't need it in my work environment too."
So what we see is that such a confrontational approach can sometimes be exclusionary, and in particular, some of the women that I spoke to said that it made them feel uncomfortable because it created a climate in which it was really hard for them to address these kind of instances of sexism for instance, as these were dismissed as just loud men talking loudly or passionate behaviour. It also meant that you have to, to a certain extent, endure a particular level of aggression as part of your works. And many individuals are unwilling to do so, and these positions are clearly reflected in my earlier quotes.
Now, why is there this disconnect between my findings and will theity tour in the IETF or even the IETF? Sort of looking back at how much of the literature, as well as the IETF itself, describes the organisation as open and accessible, where does the disconnect between how the IETF's culture is described and how it functions in practice comes from? I think one the things that I noticed that researchers and IETF participants often conflate the IETF's procedural guidelines, so it's open standards and governance, with the nature of its day to day cultural functions and just because an organisation is technically accessible does not mean it's culturally open. And this discrepancy shows the need for further anthropological research, as the dynamics that I witnessed in the IETF are likely to happen in a broader array of organisations.
So what? My findings suggest that while we are quick to blame end users for technical concerns, we're much less likely to turn it the gaze inwards and consider how our actions sometimes cause problems, how we sometimes are the enemy. The disparity between the literature and the IETF's rhetoric, on the one hand, and my findings, on the other, suggest that we know less about the ‑‑ how the sausage of Internet gets made than we think we do.
What I argue is that we need to be more clear identity about acknowledging who is excluded from the participating due to the specifics of our you have regions of our organisational culture users and what prospective valuable perspectives are lost because of it. And if you take away one thing from my talk today, I I hope it's this: Don't mistake the open governance structures of the Internet governance organisations for an accessible culture, and by extension, perhaps question what my findings about the IETF from the ground up mean for work in your organisation.
How do your working practices and unspoken habits enable or curtail the ability for diverse experts to speak up. What topics are you not seeing because of the early introduced CloudFlare concern?
Which brings me to the discussion. Are there any IETFers in the audience today? It might seem I was picking on your organisation. This is not the case. My ethnographic research was on the IETF but the point that I have been trying to make throughout this talk is that it is one amongst many organisations working on keeping the Internet running that have some cultural concerns. What I want to do today is really flip the notion on its head that the rough culture of the IETF are what enable it to do good work. It might also be holding it back from doing even better work.
So the question that I want to leave you with is: Do you recognise your organisation in the patterns that I have sketched today? And if so, are you willing and able to make the necessary cultural changes even if it means giving up parts of an undoubtedly deeply cherished but perhaps here and there somewhat unhelpful culture?
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Thanks, we need to get some people asking questions because we are ‑‑ we can still have some time. So I'm not seeing many, but two, so let me go with Vesna from the RIPE, and she asks: "What is your advice on small steps that the RIPE community can take to become more welcoming and diverse?"
DR. CORRINE CATH: I think one the things that RIPE is already doing is having these conversations within the community as well as making its values more explicit through the Code of Conduct. What I always tend to say, that a Code of Conduct is a really good starting point. But it only works if people feel safe enough to invoke it, if the ‑‑ if there is a broader conversation within the community saying okay, we have this Code of Conduct for when it goes wrong, right. But that is one approach. What do we do and what do we change about how we work so we never need to use it? What is it about our culture that we can improve or change on such as it is welcoming and safe for all participants to work in?
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: It's not like what you should never do but maybe more about what you should do, what probably would do, right, more like rules of behaviour.
Koen van Hove in the Netherlands asks: "What is the main thing individuals within the IETF can do to create a more accessible and welcoming environment?" And then I have one more question.
DR. CORRINE CATH: I mean, I think one of the things to keep it really close to my Ph.D. findings, is to think about how to make those sharp edges of its culture a little bit more blunt. So, for starters, I think that ‑‑ (inaudible ‑ connection lost) they should accept a level of aggression is not perhaps the way to go, and I would say like what can we rethink where you can both keep a critical discussion without necessarily devolving into the kind of, you know, sort of acrimonious discussions that I have seen which can be really debilitating to some and at all times also for the community to think really hard about who is a technical expert? Because I have also had this experience myself, where I'm at the IETF and individuals tend to assume that because of the way I look and because of my gender, I couldn't possibly be an engineer or I couldn't possibly have any kind of technical skills, and that's a problem. It is also about making a cultural shift and open to the fact that folks with technical expertise look in really diverse
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: That's good that you end there. We have Giovane Moura.
GIOVANE MOURA: Thanks for this presentation and again congratulations on your Ph.D. and for the courage to go against the IETF, so scrutinise an entire process. I joined the IETF five or six years ago and I still get terrified just sending mails to the list not only because of the culture but because of the amount of knowledge that is in the IETF because if you make a mistake, that's it. So my question to you was my own experience of terrifying in the beginning, but I sort of grew a thick skin in the process, I learned the hard way. I am not saying it was pleasant but it was the way that I learned. My question to you is: Given that there is so much competition been the IETF, did you find any other community, because I am complete ignorant of that, I don't know any other communities that do similar work that you have real to shout and get your standards standardised and published, that are, let's say, more open, less ‑‑ with less of men shouting, do you have an example that we can learn from? Because, as I am saying I know academia when you present there most people know your work or the IETF, which you know if you make a mistake, you are dead, so I only see the two extremes.
DR. CORRINE CATH: The thing is like, I wonder, I am not sure my work went against the IETF as much as describing what it looks like to a relative outsider. Like I said, to make the familiar strange, because I do feel that sometimes when you place these kind of practices in a different context and the people within them get a different view of oh maybe, you know, this does have some concerns. And I also want to state that a lot of people within the IETF are doing really hard work this on making the necessarily cultural change. I don't want to make it all out I am seeing this no one in the IETF is, because a lot of people are doing the hard work and making the cultural changes. Setting that aside, I do think that in many ways the kind of practices that I describe are more common than not, in many technical communities. But I do feel that there are examples, for instance Python community, that are making really important changes, and I think RIPE is also one of the cultural ‑‑ we see that that's mostly what I want to talk to encourage the importance of that and make sure that's a trajectory that, you know, technical communities seek out so that expertise like of yourself isn't lost and that we can all contribute to these discussions even if we don't have the three decades of experience of participating.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: I said we have about our last question, if you want to ask something, please go ahead and then we switch to our next transition.
JAN ZORZ: So, lots of people is asking what do we need to do? What would you do to make it better? And we actually sent the message together with Chris Grandeman when we wrote operators in the IETF, and I think there is lots of messages there, what is wrong and what needs to be done, but I have a feeling that ‑‑ and I got the information from some of the area directors that basically the IETF, what they did was they read the draft and they said thank you for letting us know, bye‑bye. So, where to go from here?
DR. CORRINE CATH: I can definitely imagine. This is also something I wonder myself like, you know, people said this is incredibly important, thank you, bye‑bye. But at the same time, what I see right now within the IETF, at least within the leadership and a large part of the community, is there is a recognition of our numbers are dwindling, we have a hard time attracting and keeping people. The number of women that participate here is not great and we want our community to keep existing because we want the Internet to keep existing and, for that, we need people who are willing to come to the IETF, right, and not all of that it is driven by culture, of course it's not, but it is a part of it, so I do feel there is a real drive within the IETF to make some changes, to make sure that some of the more toxic dynamics that I described are actively addressed, if only for the interest of its own continued existence.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: It looks like we have got two more people, I'll ask Benedikt to speak and then Joel, and that's it. Sorry, folks, we really have to discuss it further, I agree, but we just don't have enough time in this particular slot.
BENEDIKT STOCKEBRAND: A couple of things. First off, I have been been to a couple of IETF meetings. Second thing, disclaimer: I have a secondary degree in philosophy so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with this work. There are two things that are different between the RIPE community and the IETF. The IETF is largely dominated by Americans, they have a much larger number of participants, they are American who bring their own culture and, at least in some cases, little understanding for the rest of the world, which makes is harder, and, on the other hand, they also have a problem that they also have people from, for example, the Far East, which is such a huge cultural clash that this is really, really really difficult. The RIPE community is a bit more homogenous with that. On the other hand, as a Working Group Chair, even then I sometimes find it important to tell speakers who are not that fluent in English or from a culture that might actually take a direct question as a personal attack, to warn them beforehand and possibly be ready to intervene if things get out of control. But all in all and from what I have seen at the IETF, the RIPE community is a lot easier than on this than the IETF. That's it.
DR. CORRINE CATH: I mean, that's very clear and I appreciate that.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Our RIPE co‑chair, Niall O'Reilly, wants to say something, but I'm not sure if he still wants to. If he does, he can say that now.
NIALL O'REILLY: How many seconds do I have?
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Sometimes we have to break our own rules.
NIALL O'REILLY: I want to thank you, Corinne, for giving us lots of stuff to think about, it was really stimulating. Now I have to do the reading. But I was going to ask a question which maybe echoes a point that Benedikt made, and it's this: The ‑‑ in the Anglophone parts of the world, the politics and the legal system are very much based on a confrontational model and this is seen as the proper way to test ideas. And I am wondering whether the kind of phenomenon that you see in the IETF, that you have looked or you thought about looking whether things are different in ‑‑ the French people talk about the Anglo Saxon legal system, but, as an Irishman, that's not a term I'd like to use, but in countries whose politics and judicial systems are different, are the edges likely to be less sharp or what's the parallel between the IETF and the wider society?
DR. CORRINE CATH: I really appreciate that question, and as someone who comes from a background of working within the field of human rights law, I have, you know, plenty of experience with what that looks like in the judicial system and feels different. Yes, it's also about confrontation and it's about seeking out, you know, the best possible way forward, but it's often less personal. I do feel, in my experience at least, and this is also something that I came up in my data where I spoke to human rights folks, were used to that legal context that you sketch and now most of the IETF saying like it's not that I'm averse to having direct hard conversations about particular topics, but there is a certain level of sort of almost professionalism that I expect in terms of people keeping it about the subject and not the speaker, and that's something where sometimes the lines are too blurred in the kind of conversations that I saw in the IETF, where things tend to become personal when they should stay professional.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: All right. Unfortunately, I have to end this talk of yours. Thanks for your research. Where is Mohamad, so you can go ahead.
I am the Chair of this section and the next speaker is, and about affordable Internet for the community for the community, and you can now start.
SHEIKH MD SEUM: Thank you everyone for giving me an opportunity. Thank you, RIPE.
Let me start? Can you hear me?
MOHAMMAD BOROUMAND: Yes, we can hear you. Yes, everything is okay.
SHEIKH MD SEUM: Mobile broadband in Bangladesh is expensive and volume‑based. Most of the people's primary computing device is a smartphone. There are 105 million Internet subscriber and one month Internet subscription in Bangladesh costs almost 10% of month income of the average person.
One of the reason for this, the advantage has expensive spectrum operation has.... in force so similar market in terms of prices and are dropping very fast.
To solve this expensive mobile brand issue, we helped these tea owners to take a fixed broadband connection, the customer hardware something the Internet for the low income population. You can buy almost one day Internet price with 12 cents, which is ten times lower than Internet prices. The solution are more than 80% of population of the country. We are not an ISP, whether we partner with ISPs who take care of the[...]
Why the solution, you may ask? Because fixed broadband in Bangladesh is very cheap and also it's fast. These are the density and lives moves around here. It is a gathering place of local community, and wi‑fi brings extra footsteps to the wi‑fi tea stall corners.
The way the solution work: We send our custom hardwares to local ISPs and the tea stall owners. The city that a few... various apps, they can log one day and seven day wi‑fi balances to our customers without [something] app. The customer downloads our app and gets access to connect every router in our network.
On the technical side, possibly we use smartphones to access the Janata Cloud. This allows us to overcome the barrier of CGNAT issues. Through similar Internet the smartphone gets all the credentials it needs to operate the whole process and serves the router to be added to join the Janata Cloud. There are three sections in our Cloud: Authentication, authorisation and accounting is hand‑held in one section. There is also a log management section which certificates the security of the user so that, in any kind of security issue, we can easily track the incident. With all these Janata Cloud ensures this connect.
So, we are faster than 4G. We are stable than 4G, we are at least ten times cheaper than 4G. We ensure that the Internet ability for the user and for the first time, the women get Internet education and they can get their livelihood. Also, wi‑fi sales is bringing an extra 10% income of the vendors.
Now, you may ask why this solution in why we are better than 4G? We estimate the density that places the hardware and link capabilities. Also, as we are focusing on low‑income areas, both the radio and physical interference is very low. Most of the content comes in by the user is local CDN‑based, which ensures the highest throughout and local density over the broadband, which 4G can never meet.
We can look at the start, the speed of 4G Internet is very low, which doesn't ensure very good broadband Internet experience. And CDN operators also squeeze every bit out of the spectrum which makes the QS very low.
We launched several.... [something] in 2021. Before these, we used to sell voucher cards and consumers would connect using the numbers on these cards. Now we assign balance to the apps of the tea stall owners, and they refill the balance to customers, the agent sends us money through their mobile money account letting whole process paperless.
Thank you for your attention. Any questions?
MOHAMMAD BOROUMAND: Thank you for your good presentation. I think everybody enjoyed your presentation, and any one any question in the Q&A? We don't have questions, but anyone?
Sorry, we have one from Jan Zorz.
SHEIKH MD SEUM: We don't have IPv6. Around 1% or less than 1%. So we cannot have the CGNAT issue at this moment, that's why we have to use the mobile. Okay, another question?
MOHAMMAD BOROUMAND: It's Gordon Gidofalvy from King Fiber. I believe it's a Canadian company: "Do you also assist handling seyting up the fixed connection to the tea stalls? I am wondering because it doesn't seem an easy task to create that."
SHEIKH MD SEUM: Okay, we don't handle the setting‑up process. We use the app, which is easy and convenient to set up the hardwares. And the local ISPs helps the tea stall owners to set up the process, and the app is made in a very convenient way, so anyone can take the hardware with a few steps.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: I am very have impressed with your project. You made life so much better for people. As Ukraine, we are on the list of the most expensive spectrum, and we have lots of wi‑fi too. Nothing like you. You should export to other countries, I am sure you'll have even more people.
SHEIKH MD SEUM: We are trying to do that, That's why we are sharing with the communities. Anyone who are interested in our process, are welcome to contact us.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Thank you. We are maybe ‑‑ I don't see anybody requesting. Please, people who haven't been asking questions before, don't be shy, you can ask question, it's just as simple as clicking the button on the top left corner right under your name in the Meetecho app, you cannot do this through live‑streaming, obviously, or you can go to the button or type it in with your name and affiliation, it's also below your name with a question mark. And that's, I guess it.
Thank you. I'll be glad to ‑‑
SHEIKH MD SEUM: If anyone has any questions, feel free to e‑mail.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: I now know how the wi‑fi in Bangladesh works. Thanks. It's Michael Oghia next. Please, go ahead.
MICHAEL OGHIA: Can you hear me now? Great. So, funny enough this morning, at about 9:45, I lost Internet connectivity, and then when I went to a coffee shop, the power went out. So, I am actually not going to keep my video on for most of the talk, I am sorry I wanted to just come on and introduce myself and say hi. I am going to keep it off because I am tethering to my mobile device. Just to save bandwidth as our previous speaker was just describing the importance of via and whatnot, I just wanted to say hi, thank you for allowing me to be here and let me get right into it.
So, my name is Michael Oghia. I am the director of external relations for an organisation called the sustainable digital infrastructure alliance which is co‑based in Hamburg and Amsterdam. Well, if anybody recognises my name especially from RIPE Labs, one of the things that I speak about often is the relationship between the Internet and sustainability. And so, in case ‑‑ just as a brief refresher for anybody here who is interested in the topic, most people, when they think about sustainability within the Internet, a lot of times it comes to energy consumption and especially climate impact. The latter is relevant specifically if you are a software developer and you are trying to think about how to make your software greener and of course if anybody here is running an IXP or data centre, energy consumption PUE is one the biggest things you'll come across. It's not just that, there is resource use, water and land, waste generation from e‑waste, pollution and many other forms, there is mineral mining and processing and extraction, there is construction and transportation, again especially relevant to anybody here focusing on real estate, data centres, etc. Of course, there is infrastructure resiliency, sea levels are rising, that means that especially submarine cable landing stations are under threat. Of course, there is data transit and storage. If you have a data centre, you know, in northern Finland or Sweden and you are in southern Greece, that could be a problem for you, especially for how do we get the, you know, your Instagram image from northern Sweden to southern Greece? Of course extensive supply chains, many of which are interconnected, and as we see with the supply chain issues, that is a bigger ‑‑ also a problem for sustainability.
One the biggest problems is that there is a lack of design considerations, as it relates to incorporating sustainability into ICT or to IT hardware design, etc., or software design. There is production consumption, end‑of‑life issues. There is the impact on biodiversity and human communities and of course problematic business models which range for things like not extending the life of hardware because of lack of software support, firmware support, etc. or just the need to upgrade constantly because marketing departments are, you know, always pushing that kind of narrative, depending on the field.
So, what am I doing and why am I here? Apologies for the quick transition, I'll fix that in future slides. So, as I said, the entire digital economy, if we think about it as a grouping of sectors, it's not just one sector, it's essentially 30‑plus industries that are all working together in one way or another to ensure that a foton that's created in a wind park can eventually power a post from your favourite website or, you know, on your laptop or your computer or whatnot and so one the things that we're doing in is try to bring all of these different organisations together, all these different groups to actually think about how we can do that and so, if you think about it from the beginning, if you think about just the enabling infrastructure fringes, it's your buildings, your land, your data centres, it's your power generation, then ‑‑ sorry, not the data centres, then we go up to the data centres, the telecommunications networks, then we think about, you know, virtualisation and where are the technologies working and then we get to the software level, to the platform level etc.
What we have done is we are creating, we have a map that we have created that's essentially bringing all of this together and focus on how do we move sustainability forward in a way that's inclusive of the fact that, yes, you might be working on software but obviously the device that you're working on is connected to the Internet, it's connected to another part of Internet infrastructure, it's connected to a different part of Internet infrastructure. How can we create really systems‑based and holistic approaches to sustainability within the entire sector?
Now, as I mentioned, this is the roadmap that I told ‑‑ that I just addressed, it's divided into six different metrics, including emissions, energy consumption, e‑waste, resource consumption exclusion and socioeconomics, and each of those white bars to the right of it are activities and there is about 22 activities in total and each activity currently has, or eventually will have, a steering group attached to it and one the biggest things that we do is that we make the business case for sustainability, because if anyone is listening to this and saying yeah, sustainability is great but what about the bottom line? That's exactly the point that we agree with as well. Theres no reason why stainability shouldn't also be better for economics and for, you know, as much as we want to protect the environment, we want to protect human communities that rely on the Internet and we want to make sure that sustainability is economical and business‑friendly as well.
(Inaudible ‑ connection lost) then sustainability is not going to be sustainable in and of itself as well. So we are driving sustainability forward with ‑‑ specifically within Europe, we have global ambitions, but we're here now. We were established in 2019 so we're quite young still. We have currently 65 members and partners working across Europe, we have six roadmap metrics in 21 activities and ten steering groups.
One of the things that I spoke about, that I will highlight in just a moment is, for instance, we have been working on, or we have been trying to build support for an open data hub, and we just finished in September a three‑part series on our vision for a sustainable European Cloud, I'll bring you to those in just a moment. Then, of course, if you go online, if you go to the Plenary page, you will find information about us and you can also download this, the slide deck, which will give you some more information.
But the point is, as you can see here, we have quite a number of members that have joined from across the digital ecosystem that are working with us to drive progress forward in our steering groups and specifically that means some of those steering groups are focusing on things like key waste reuse in data centres, others are focusing on things like alternatives for backup power and whatnot. As you can see, one thing I wanted to mention is that how steering groups specifically are focusing on things like maybe making a business case for stainability, others are thinking about what kind of policy in regulatory mechanisms need to be addressed collectively in order for us to move forward, such as finding a way to subsidise heat pumps in data centres so we can reuse that heat more easily. Those are the kind of things that we have been working on.
And so, I just want to quickly move into this because there are three posts that came out within the past six months or so that I wanted to highlight, one of which is that I mentioned we have ‑‑ we are ‑‑ we have announced earlier this year an open data hub because to us one the biggest problems with us with moving sustainability in order is that we don't have enough data. Depending on who you talk to, there is just a cacophony of difference as it relates to, well, where are we actually ‑‑ where are we at the moment? And the problem is, you can't really go forward and benchmark and push the envelope if we don't really know where are we? What is reliable and what's not. And so for us, we would love your support. If anybody is interested in learning more in how we can aggregate data, anonymise it and then help to create benchmarks, not just for the digital industry as a whole but specifically within the data centre space, within networking and other places, so, that is on RIPE Labs, fantastic resource, highly encourage you to check it out if that sounds interesting.
Another initiative that we have launched is we have a vision, we currently have a steering group that is driving this forward to create a blueprint for what we call a sustainable European Cloud. This is ‑‑ we ultimately, if we ‑‑ sorry, I forgot to put on 'do not disturb' ‑‑ ultimately, if we want to create a sense of sovereignty within Europe on the continent as a whole, something that is emphasising privacy, emphasising sustainability, we have to think about how to do that. We have a manifesto that is drawn into three parts and I have summarised that and added to RIPE Labs, I want your feedback on that.
Lastly, another important thing is refurbishing hardware and this is something specifically relevant to anybody here who uses ‑‑ who is looking for new hardware or would like to figure out how to extend the life of the hardware that you already have, or to kind of, you know, save money, especially refurbishing is a really good way to do that, so I have added this recently, just last week, about that, and I would love your feedback about that as well.
And then very ‑‑ let me see how much time I have ‑‑ oh, we ran out. Sorry, I will skip this last slide.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: It's not your fault, we had a longer talk before you, so, please, finish your own talk. Don't worry about...
MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you very much. Then I'll just, for the sake of time, I will just focus on the infrastructure operator recommendation and conclusions that I have, if anybody ‑‑ for those what are interested and it applies to you especially, I really encourage you all to see sustainability as holistic, as understanding that well, yes, we might improve our PUE or we might, you know, do more to decarbonise, but that's just one part of the puzzle. We have to think about energy, not just energy but also land and water use, e‑waste, that sort of thing, we need to go beyond PUE for sure and embrace synergies within the infrastructure. We need to turn by‑products into valuable resources that benefit both the environment and local communities. We need to reuse, refurbish equipment as much as possible and of course sustainability into design, and one of the most important, and this is really relevant to all of you, especially because I wrote a piece about this for RIPE Labs last year, and that's about the, don't underestimate the power of sustainability procurement and collective bargaining. I didn't include that as a screenshot; I should have. But the fact is, you have so much power, especially when it comes to how you spend your money, where you put your euro or whatever currency you work in, that ‑‑ if your ‑‑ if you are going to suppliers and saying, look, sustainability is really important to us, we want you to prioritise that, they will, because they are relying on your money. And so please understand that you have a lot, a lot of power when it comes to that.
And the very last thing I'll say is that if you have any questions and interested in the work we do, I would love to talk to you, some of you may be familiar with Max Schultz, he is our Executive Chairman, but otherwise, thank you very much for your attention and thank you RIPE Committee for allowing me to be here. Sorry that I can't show you my face more.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: That's fine. We have seen you in the beginning. Thanks. I am afraid we cannot allow a lot of time because we have our usual, yet important, break. We do see three in the Q&A, so I am going to read them and you can answer them.
Vesna from the RIPE NCC was first: "Do we know how many of the RIPE NCC members are also SDI members? Do you want to see a show of hands in this chat?"
MICHAEL OGHIA: Sure, is anybody here that's part of our community by chance? If not, that's okay. That's a good reason why I'm here.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: You could chat offline.
MICHAEL OGHIA: Thank you.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Peter Hessler asks: "Are there any members involved in Blockchain and, if so, how do they justify their participation?"
MICHAEL OGHIA: That is a good question. No, I don't ‑‑ not to my knowledge are any of our members are working on Blockchain or ‑‑ working on bitcoin or currencies. We are a member of an organisation called the Crypto Climate Accord, but more of kind of getting a seat at the table, trying to follow along with the proceedings to see how it happens, but of course, yes, if anybody is familiar with ‑‑ I mean, everybody has been reading about it, it's pretty clear that crypto is pretty energy‑inefficient and it's really quite bad for the environment. So this just definitely something that needs a lot of work needs to be done on and hopefully we would love for instance to have a steering group on crypto power use and not just power use but also the equipment, the hardware is incredibly often, you know, it has a very short lifecycle, so how do we extend that kind of hardware, how do we refurbish more, etc., etc., there is so many problems that need to be addressed there.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Actually I think not all blockchains are the same. I know bitcoin is all of, but I know there is some other currencies which do claim better energy efficiency, but yes, that's a big issue.
Jan Zorz asks, I guess the the final one: "Would anyone be interested in sustainability best current operational practice document?"
MICHAEL OGHIA: That's great. I see a lot of people ‑‑ I see a lot of people kind of indicating support for that, and I'd really appreciate that. It's actually something that I wrote about with the procurement document last year kind of doing a B Corp about that, but just having a more support for that here publicly, I really appreciate, and yeah, of course, if anybody has any more questions, if you have something, if something wasn't clear, you'd like some more information about it, please do reach out to us, we'd be happy to do that and I'm sure I'll be writing more for RIPE Labs.
DIMITRY KOHMANYUK: Thank you. I would again thank you, and that wraps up your talk. I would like to remind everybody to rate those talks because it's how PC, the Programme Committee, gets feedback about quality and also we have a Programme Committee member elections, there are two seats opening up, and please e‑mail to pc [at] ripe [dot] net if you do want to volunteer for PC, or if you want to nominate somebody else, please first ask if they do want to be a PC member, if that's so, send us an e‑mail with their name and their affiliation so they can be nominated.
Thanks. And with that, we'll wrap up our session and our next session will be shortly. Enjoy your time and please don't forget to stretch. Thanks.