The Telecommunications Authority of Suriname (TAS) recently hosted an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) Awareness Symposium, designed to create greater public awareness of the role, function and benefits of Internet Exchange Points to the development of Internet-based economic activity in Suriname.
Ms. Juanita McLean, speaking on behalf of Telecommunications Minister Falisie Pinas, shared that the Suriname Government views connectivity as the enabler for economic development and sees the establishment of the Internet Exchange Point as a precursor to stimulating greater development of Surinamese content on the Internet.
Internet connectivity has been one of the major challenges in Suriname, which has a population density of less than 3 people per square kilometer. However, approximately 75% of the population live in urban areas along the coast of the 164,000 square kilometers sized country.
The Symposium was facilitated by Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House (PCH), an international not-for-profit research institute which has built or supported more than one third of the world’s existing 300 IXPs. In his feature presentation, Wooding described IXPs as a cost-effective mechanism for achieving increased domestic connectivity, service gains and ICT sector growth.
Mr Stephen Lee, a network specialist and consultant for the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), presented on the technical requirements for establishing an IXP. Both presenters gave several examples of content development opportunities in the form of new Suriname-facing services that can be delivered by government and private industry. The two experts highlighted some of the obstacles that could be expected and also used international references to demonstrate the relationship between IXPs, growth in the domestic Internet economy and national development.
Their audience included representatives from across several sectors, including Internet Service Providers, educators, private sector representatives and government officials, regulators and technocrats. Participants were challenged to consider the possibilities for industry growth and for the revolution of education, e-health, youth empowerment, e-government and telecommunications.
Ms Jetty Olff, Director at the Telecommunications Authority of Suriname (TAS), indicated in her closing remarks that she was very pleased with the outcomes of the Symposium, and she shared that TAS is fully committed to supporting the establishment of an IXP in Suriname.
Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU, stated in her address, “The CTU is committed to raising awareness of the issues and opportunities around the use of technology for social and economic development in the region.” Lewis pointed out that the CTU, through its Caribbean ICT Roadshow, has been on a campaign to increase awareness across the region. She assured that the CTU will continue to work alongside the government and regulators to ensure that necessary assistance and policy guidance is available as needed.
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 Working Group’s first task will be to finalize the governance structure for the Internet Exchange Point (IXP). The introduction of an IXP in Suriname promises to facilitate greater domestic connectivity by allowing for local Internet traffic to be exchanged on a cost-neutral basis between Internet Service Providers.
The one-day event, held on January 26, was hosted in conjunction with PCH, CTU, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations (CANTO).
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.
About Packet Clearing House
Packet Clearing House is a not-for-profit research institute with offices in San Francisco, London, Port of Spain 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.