Rob Allen
Karin Ahl

Q&A with new Netnod CEO, Karin Ahl

Karin Ahl became Netnod CEO in May 2023. In this Q&A, we discuss her background in the industry, her thoughts on the latest trends and her views on what makes Netnod unique.

1. Before Netnod, you were President of the FTTH Council Europe. Can you tell us more about your role there? 

As President of the Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Europe, I represented the organisation in Brussels and Europe while also participating in the global alliance. I worked together with the Director General of the FTTH Council Europe to run the organisation and represent the needs of its members. I worked in two main areas: policy, that is influencing decision makers ranging from vendors to governments and regulators; and taking care of the membership base which included around 300 operators, academics and government representatives. We ran an annual FTTH conference that grew on a yearly basis to around 3 500 attendees. My focus was on the whole decision-making process defining how and why to build out fibre and the complicated process of securing and administering funding. This work is very similar to what we’re doing at Netnod today with our time distribution services.

2. You’ve already been working with Netnod for some time. How did you first come to work at Netnod?

I was brought in to work at Netnod as the Head of Netnod’s Time Services. Over time, I became more involved in the business development side. There were many similarities here to my previous roles at FTTH and RALA AB especially in regard to working with public authorities and policy makers.

3. What excites you about your new role at Netnod? What makes Netnod unique?

Everything! It’s an honour to be in this position, to get the chance to help take Netnod further, and to see how we can develop across all our service areas. I am looking forward to working more closely with the whole Netnod team, the Board and Netnod’s owners, the TU-Foundation, to make sure we continue to fulfil Netnod’s vision and mission. I am keen for us to explore new cooperation and partnership models across all our business areas.

Netnod is unique in the range of expertise we have across our interconnection, DNS and time service areas. Netnod is also unique in that we provide services of critical importance to both private and public sectors while also playing a crucial, neutral role in helping to drive policy, ensure good governance and support best practice across many technical areas.

4. What are the most interesting trends you see in terms of the Internet infrastructure in Sweden and beyond?

There is a growing interest in time services and an understanding that these are critical not only for digital products but also for society as a whole. Across Europe, we are seeing a lot of interest in the kind of national time service that Netnod has built in Sweden together with RISE and PTS. I gave a recent presentation on this at RIPE 86 in Rotterdam and we have had a lot of interest from governments and regulators interested in how a similar type of service could be of benefit. 

When it comes to DNS services, it’s becoming more important to understand where to be present and to see what different providers bring in terms of added value. There are a lot of interesting discussions taking place around developing services and the protocols these services use. Netnod proudly co-hosted a DNS Hackathon together with the RIPE NCC and DNS-OARC to delve deeper into these areas. 

We are seeing more people asking for the Netnod IX service across Europe and there are interesting developments in the market taking place in Africa and South America.  

5. Netnod is focused on working for the good of the Internet. How does the current security situation in Sweden and Europe affect the Internet industry in general and Netnod’s work in particular?

Security is a central topic for nations, regions and for organisations like Netnod that work at the core of the Internet. We are focused on security best practices together with helping to inform policy positions that represent the best interests of our customers and the technical community here in Sweden. In that regard, we play an important role in policy, regulatory and security discussions and continue to receive funding from the Swedish government and foreign ministry to support the work we do here. 

I would like Netnod to continue building a strong financial platform so we can reinvest in future activities and further work for the good of the Internet. This is something that the Netnod Management, Board and owners are equally committed to and which will be a main area of focus as we move forward. 

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