St .Lucia is planning to become the next Caribbean country to establish an Internet exchange point (IXP).
That timing seems appropriate. The launch of the St. Lucia IXP, called SLiX, is being launched as part of St. Lucia’s celebration 35 years of independence. 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, CARCIP coordinator in St. 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, is the key technical adviser for the initiative. He described St. 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 recognized 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 St. Lucia’s 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 St. Lucia but across the whole Caribbean. The lessons we learn in St. Lucia will benefit the entire region,” said 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 program was allocated US$25 million, including loans to three countries including St. Lucia, and a grant to the CTU. Through CARCIP, the governments of the three countries have been working toward harmonizing the development of their telecommunications infrastructure to maximize synergies and avoid inefficiencies.
Last September, PCH collaborated with the Saint Lucia-based CARCIP team, hosting workshops for stakeholders in St. 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.