Published On: Fri, Oct 2nd, 2015

Internet Exchange Points critical to the Caribbean Digital Economy

ICTCaribbean nations need to strengthen their Internet infrastructure if the region is to take full advantage of the global digital economy.

This was the view expressed by Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) vice president Mark Vanterpool, speaking at the official launch of CTU’s ICT Week on the 29th September 2015 in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Vanterpool, the Minister for Communications and Works in the BVI, used his country as an example of the benefits of investing in Internet infrastructure. He singled out the role of the local Internet exchange points, commonly called IXPs, as one of the key enablers of the Caribbean digital economy.

He explained that local IXPs reduce costs and increase efficiency by allowing networks to interconnect directly to exchange Internet traffic, rather than having to connect through third-party networks.

“Here in the Virgin Islands, we understood the importance of establishing a local IXP, and today we are happy to say that we have benefitted from having one of the very first IXPs established in the region. This was implemented with significant support from the CTU, to whom we remain grateful,” Vanterpool said.

The BVI’s IXP was established in June 2011 with technical and policy assistance from the CTU and Packet Clearing House (PCH), a US-based non-profit organization responsible for support for critical Internet infrastructure globally.

Vanterpool noted that while the full potential of the BVI’s IXP is yet to be unleashed locally, other countries throughout the region should take steps to adopt their own local IXPs.

“More has to be done to realize the full benefits of this development. Accordingly, I would like to see more emphasis toward adding value to our IXP, by exploring opportunities for data centres, data storage and local content.”

“I urge my fellow member states in the CTU to also implement a national IXP which, when joined with the other IXPs in the region, will be a powerful catalyst for regional growth and development,” the minister added.

Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist and Caribbean Outreach Manager for PCH, confirmed that the BVI was the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to establish a local IXP.

“Packet Clearing House is working closely with the CTU and its member states to strengthen existing exchange points in the region,” Wooding said. “PCH is also collaborating with the CTU and the Caribbean Network Operators Group to support development of new IXPs and strengthening of technical capacity across the region.”

Photo: Mark Vanterpool, Vice-president of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and Minister of Communications and Works, Government of the British Virgin Islands.

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