Caribbean Connectivity: St Lucia Launching Internet Exchange Point

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Above: St Lucia

By the Caribbean Journal staff

St Lucia is planning to become the latest Caribbean country to establish an Internet exchange point (IXP).

The launch of the Saint Lucia IXP, called SLiX, is being timed as part of Saint Lucia’s celebration of 35 years of independence.

What the establishment of the IXP means is that Internet traffic originating from St Lucian Internet service providers (ISP) will now terminate on another local ISP’s network without having to go through lengthy, expensive, international routes.

The new IXP is part of a wider Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme initiative.

“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 Saint Lucia, in a release.

The IXP is a critical component of telecommunications infrastructure that allows local Internet service providers to exchange locally-destined Internet traffic between their networks without cost, Roberts said.

Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist and Caribbean Outreach Manager for US-based Packet Clearing House, 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.

“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 Saint 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 programme was allocated a total disbursement of $25 million USD, including loans to the three countries 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.