FRIGATE BAY, St Kitts – 27 August, 2010
New Push toward establishing domestic Internet Exchange Point
FRIGATE BAY, St Kitts – The establishment of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) within St Kitts & Nevis must be a top priority if the country’s technology-based development agenda is to be fully realised.
This point was highlighted by international Internet Strategist Mr. Bevil Wooding at the St Kitts/Nevis national symposium on Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) hosted last Friday by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in collaboration with US nonprofit research institute, Packet Clearing House (PCH).
The event was designed to create greater public awareness of the role, function and benefits of Internet Exchange Points to the development of internet-based industry targeting domestic services and content. An Internet Exchange Point is a facility where domestic internet traffic is exchanged between service providers at no cost.
Drawing from compelling international examples, Wooding highlighted several opportunities for the development of local content in the form of domestic services delivered by government, schools, businesses and media houses. He also pointed out some of the obstacles to this being encountered across the region.
“Citizens have a right to the same tools and technology used to facilitate the development of the domestic internet economy as exits in other jurisdictions. Government, regulators and service providers have a duty to ensure that citizens are not denied this right,” Wooding stated.
Participants, ranging from internet service providers, educators and business reps to government officials, regulators and technocrats, were challenged to consider the possibilities for industry growth and for the revolution of education, e-health, youth empowerment, e-government and telecommunications.
Attendees acknowledged that establishing a domestic IXP could bring tremendous benefit to the Federation. However, many noted that the recognition of the value of an IXP to national development did not seem to be enough motivation to move key stakeholders to decisive action. Several in the audience bemoaned the fact that it has been over a year since the issue was first raised and, even though all the elements are in place for establishing an IXP in the Federation, the dominant telecommunications service provider seems to be dragging its feet and frustrating the process.
Government Minister with responsibility for Information Technology, Glen Phillip, reiterated Government’s commitment to supporting the establishment of an IXP in St Kitts as a national development priority. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU, pointed out that the CTU through its Caribbean ICT Roadshow has been on a campaign across the region. Lewis gave the assurance that the CTU will be working with the government to ensure that necessary assistance and policy guidance is available as needed for the establishment of an Internet Exchange Point in St Kitts and Nevis. She stated, “We are committed to raising awareness of the issues and opportunities around the use of technology for social and economic development in the region.”
The Symposium concluded with participants agreeing to advance the process through the establishment of a special Working Group representing the interest of all stakeholders. The first task of the group will be to finalize the governance structure for the Exchange and to have that ratified. Wesley Wharton Director of Technology for the Federation was nominated to coordinate this process.
About Caribbean Telecommunications Union
The CTU is a policy formulation body, acting in an advisory capacity to the governments of the region. The organisation was established 20 years ago by regional heads of government to advise the regional governments on matters related to ICT. The CTU has been involved in the harmonization of policies across the Caribbean for the development of the ICT sector. It is governed by a Conference of Ministers from telecommunication and information ministries of the regional governments. Its membership base comprises governments, private sector and civil society organisations. The Caribbean ICT Roadshow will visit 20 countries over a 10 month period and culminate with a regional ICT symposium in the second quarter of 2010.
About Packet Clearing House
Packet Clearing House is a not-for-profit research institute with offices in San Francisco, London, and Kathmandu. PCH provides services to the public without cost or restriction wherever possible. PCH staff is drawn from the ranks of senior engineers and executives of Internet and telecommunications networking companies in many countries. Their decades of real-world experience in diverse regions of the world inform the organization’s work, perspective, and ability to bridge disparate communities of interest. PCH conductions workshops and develops and supports a variety of tools and services for the ISP, policymaking, and research communities.