CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Saint Lucia is planning to become the next Caribbean country to establish an Internet exchange point (IXP).
That timing seems appropriate. The launch of the Saint Lucia IXP, called SLiX, is being timed as part of Saint Lucia’s celebration 35 years of independence. And SLiX will free the island's local Internet traffic from lengthy, expensive, international routes.
“We are very proud as part of the CARCIP program to be the latest country in the English-speaking Caribbean to implement an exchange point,” said Christopher Roberts, Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Programme (CARCIP) coordinator in Saint Lucia.
The IXP is critical telecommunications infrastructure that allows local Internet service providers to exchange locally-destined Internet traffic between their networks without cost, Roberts explained.
Bevil Wooding, an internet strategist and Caribbean outreach manager for US-based Packet Clearing House (PCH), is the key technical advisor for the initiative. He described Saint Lucia’s new IXP as “a significant step away from unnecessary dependence on foreign infrastructure and a movement toward new levels of technical independence.”
The net effect, he said, will be reduction in the time it takes for data to move between customers of the island’s various Internet service providers. This brings potentially higher connectivity speeds for local traffic and, ultimately, a better quality of service for Internet subscribers.
PCH is a globally recognised expert in the field of IXP implementation, having built or supported more than one third of the world’s 300-plus exchange points.
The establishment of Saint Lucia IXP is also expected to stimulate locally driven, Internet-based enterprise and innovation.
"The ultimate aim of CARCIP is to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development not just in Saint Lucia but across the whole Caribbean. The lessons we learn in Saint Lucia will benefit the entire region,” said Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) project coordinator Junior McIntyre.
CARCIP addresses gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs). The programme 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.
Last September, PCH collaborated with the Saint Lucia-based CARCIP team, hosting workshops for stakeholders in Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Attending the workshops were representatives from Internet service providers, local content providers, academics, business leaders and government officials.