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RIPE is a large and diverse community of network operators and others working on Internet coordination and governance. While most of its work takes place on mailing lists, the community comes together twice each year for a busy week of plenary presentations, working group sessions and ad hoc discussions… that is, until COVID-19 changed everything.

RIPE 80 had been scheduled for Berlin in May, but with the pandemic quickly escalating around the world, a tough decision was made to cancel the meeting in early March.

But what next? While most people haven’t heard of RIPE, its coordination and policy-setting work is important for stable Internet operations. COVID-19 has made this more important than ever, as a stable Internet is what has allowed many of us to stay in touch with loved ones, access important information and continue working from home.

A lot of quick coordination behind the scenes meant that the RIPE Meeting was able to go ahead, albeit as a slightly shorter meeting (three days instead of the regular five), with a few tweaks to the meeting agenda to suit the medium, and a rather extreme interpretation of the term “social distancing”.

Nevertheless, the RIPE community’s first fully-virtual meeting was a great success – kicking-off with 1,745 attendees on the first day (1,000 participating via Zoom and several hundred more using an alternative web stream option). By the end of the meeting, there were 2,000 attendees registered.

Among the topics covered in the working group sessions: a look at developments since the RIPE NCC reached the end of its IPv4 pool in November 2019 (an average of five /24 allocations are now being made each day via a new waiting list); an update from Europol on COVID-19’s impact on the nature of ransomware, DDoS, phishing and other cyber-crimes; a discussion on some of the challenges affecting IPv6 deployment; and a peek at the redesigned RIPE stat interface that will launch at the next RIPE Meeting (the jury is still out on whether this will be a virtual or physical meeting).

Hans Petter Holen, Managing Director of RIPE NCC, is enthusiastic about how the meeting worked. “RIPE 80 attracted an overwhelming response from the industry, much more than we had anticipated. Efforts like as this are important to ensure the continuity of the RIPE community’s work on Internet coordination and policy-setting, in light of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to thank everyone who joined for helping to make the meeting a success.”

RIPE 80 was part of RIPE NCC's wider efforts to support the Internet community. The RIPE NCC contributes to a stable and resilient Internet by providing IP address registration, maintaining key infrastructure, and contributing to the security of Internet routing.

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