Can telecommunications regulators from across the Caribbean see beyond their national interests and present a unified regional response to a common challenge? The recent announcement by Cable and Wireless (CWC) of its proposed US$3 billion acquisition of Columbus International could prompt them to try.
If approved, the deal will make CWC the Caribbean’s largest wholesale and retail broadband service provider. But the acquisition requires regulatory approval in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados. Continue reading How will regional regulators respond to CWC’s acquisition of Columbus?
The recent establishment of an Internet exchange point (IXP) in T&T is a necessary step in strengthening the country’s local Internet economy. But it is not enough, says Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House (PCH).
“The launch of the local internet exchange point, TTIX, is definitely a positive step for internet users and in the development of the Trinidad and Tobago internet economy. However, the launch of an IX is not enough to guarantee its success,” Wooding said, speaking with the T&T Guardian after taking part in a panel discussion on IXPs as part of the Internet Society’s (ISOC) INET TT Forum, hosted by the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) on October 8 and 9. Continue reading TTIX key to internet economy growth
Called TTIX, the local IXP brings together seven of the country’s Internet service providers (ISPs). Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), Digicel, Massy Communications, Open Telecom, Greendot, Lisa Communications and Flow have signed on to the local exchange point. Continue reading T&T launches internet exchange point
Mobile telecommunications operators in the region will continue to take advantage of consumers until stronger regulatory frameworks are built to protect Caribbean citizens. Regulators across the region must take decisive action to protect consumer choice, and the neutrality of the Internet across the Caribbean.
Saint Lucia celebrated its 35th year of independence with a bold step toward improving the quality of Internet services for its citizens. On February 28, the island joined the growing list of Caribbean countries reaping the benefits of a local Internet Exchange Point, or IXP.
The Saint Lucia Internet exchange, called SLiX, was launched under the umbrella of a broader World Bank-funded Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP), coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and with support from Packet Clearing House (PCH). The IXP is a critical component of the overall project, which seeks to increase regionwide access to and uptake of broadband Internet service.
The CTU has been engaged to coordinate CARCIP, which is a partnership between the World Bank and the governments of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The programme aims, ultimately, to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development and technology-driven service delivery throughout the wider Caribbean. Through the World Bank’s International Development Association, CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU to execute a number of regional ICT-related development projects.
The groundwork for the project was undertaken by the CTU, which has been advocating the need for proliferating Caribbean IXPs since 2006. The CTU’s aggressive public education activities on IXP principles and strategic partnership with Packet Clearing House (PCH), a globally recognised non-profit institution in the field of IXP implementation, have played a significant role in the establishment of every IXP in the region.
IXP key to Internet economy
Dr James Fletcher, Minister of the Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, delivered the keynote at the SLiX launch.
“With the establishment of this critical component of Internet infrastructure within our own shores, Saint Lucia has taken a significant step away from dependence on foreign-based service providers,” Fletcher said.
As part of the larger goal to fully develop the domestic Internet economy, Fletcher’s ministry collaborated with PCH, which has been directly involved in setup of more than one-third of the world’s 300-plus exchange points.
Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist and Caribbean Outreach Manager for PCH described the launch of SLiX as “an important milestone for the country’s growing Internet economy”.
Wooding, who played an instrumental role in the process, explained that the establishment of a local IXP in St Lucia is expected to stimulate locally driven, Internet-based enterprise and innovation. SLiX will create a pathway for the emergence of a local crop of innovators and entrepreneurs to build applications, and launch new services that target local Internet users, he said.
“Look out for a new range of Internet based apps for education, broadcasting, health-care, business, government services and other areas, to take advantage of local Internet traffic exchange.”
Competitors working together
The launch of SLiX also means that, for the first time, Saint Lucia’s local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have agreed to exchange locally-destined Internet traffic between their respective networks without cost.
The arrangement, common in developed markets, is expected to improve the speed, reliability, security and resilience of the local Internet, said Wooding, who played an instrumental role in the process.
Geraldine Pitt, Chief Executive Officer of LIME St Lucia said her company was “delighted to collaborate with the Government of St. Lucia on the creation of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP).”
LIME, a major regional telecommunications provider, has committed to using its participating at the new IX “to enable local consumers to benefit from a faster experience for domestic online services”, she said.
Columbus St Lucia Country Manager, Jesse Edwards, underscored the sentiments expressed by his LIME counterpart, stating that Columbus, LIME and their respective customers stand to benefit from the launch of St Lucia IXP.
“Columbus is very committed to IXP development in the Caribbean. We actively support IXs and peering in all the markets we serve. The collaboration between LIME and Columbus to establish SLiX is strong testament to our ongoing willingness to work together in the interest of developing the St Lucian market and creating new opportunities for the wider Caribbean market,” Edwards said.
Christopher Roberts, local CARCIP coordinator, echoed the importance of competitors collaborating for the greater good.
“The establishment of the Saint Lucia IXP is a triumph not of technology, but of the spirit of cooperation between stakeholders in a highly competitive market,” he said.
“It speaks to what can be accomplished when individuals and corporations–and even fierce competitors–agree to collaboration in support of mutual interests and in the wider public interest.”
The CTU and PCH have headed the campaign to bring Internet service providers, governments and regulators to the table to improve regional Internet performance, traffic routing efficiency, resilience, and cost by keeping local traffic local.
“This new local IXP ensures that locally generated Internet traffic destined for customers on-island will now remain in-country, rather than having to go through lengthy, expensive, and sometimes insecure international routes,” said Wooding.
SLiX is the Caribbean’s seventh exchange point to be launched since 2009. Around the region, the launch of exchanges in the region has seen all-round improvement for service providers and Internet end users. Saint Lucia is now poised to reap similar benefits, Wooding said.
“With the declaration of Independence 35 years ago came the responsibility to build a nation. So too, with the establishment of SLiX comes the responsibility to now deliberately build the domestic Internet economy. By launching SLiX, St Lucia has taken a significant step toward charting its own digital destiny.”
The Caribbean region, known for the creativity of its people, will next week make a significant move to harness that innate innovativeness.Next week, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) will hold the first in a series of workshops intended to highlight ways for people to creatively apply technology to solve problems in their everyday lives.
The technology innovation workshops, which start in St Lucia on February 10th and 11th, will also take place in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the next two months. The workshops are part of the broader World Bank-funded Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP), coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), which is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
CARCIP addresses gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs). CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.
Through CARCIP, the governments of the three countries have been working toward harmonising the development of their telecommunications infrastructure to maximise synergies and avoid inefficiencies.
CTU Project Coordinator Junior McIntyre described the scope of the overall CARCIP project as “comprehensive”.
“The ultimate aim of CARCIP is to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development not just in St Lucia but across the whole Caribbean. So the lessons we are learning in St Lucia will benefit the entire region,” he said.
St Lucia to launch IXP
Shortly after the St Lucia workshop, the island is expected to launch its first IXP, on February 26th. An IXP is a component of critical telecommunications infrastructure that works to improve the efficiency of Internet traffic routing. Internet users can therefore benefit from higher speeds and greater affordability.
Last September, CARCIP and the CTU worked with Packet Clearing House (PCH), the world’s leading implementer of IXPs, to organise back-to-back two-day workshops with stakeholders in St Lucia and St Vincent to discuss implementation of local IXPs. The workshops included Internet service providers, local content providers, academics, business leaders and government officials, and focused on the role, value and requirements of a local IXP.