By Gerard Best
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- The Caribbean region, known for the creativity of its people, is now making decisive moves to harness that innate resourcefulness.
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 Saint Lucia on February 10 and 11, 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 Saint Lucia but across the whole Caribbean. So the lessons we are learning in Saint Lucia will benefit the entire region,” he said.
Saint Lucia to launch IXP
Shortly after the Saint Lucia workshop, the island is expected to launch its first IXP, on February 26. 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 Saint 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.