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).