By Dana Niland
Caribbean nations must strengthen their Internet infrastructure in order to take full advantage of the global digital economy.
This was the message was expressed by Mark Vanterpool, Vice President of Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), at the recent official launch of CTU’s ICT Week in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Vanterpool cited his experience in his capacity as Minister for Communications and Works in the BVI, noting in particular the implementation of local Internet exchange points (IXPs) as one of the key facilitators of the Caribbean digital economy.
Local IXPs, he explained, reduce costs and increase efficiency by allowing networks to interconnect directly to exchange Internet traffic, rather than having to route through third-party networks.
“Here in the Virgin Islands, we understood the importance of establishing a local IXP, and today we are happy to say that we have benefitted from having one of the very first IXPs established in the region,” Vanterpool said. “This was implemented with significant support from the CTU, to whom we remain grateful.”
The BVI established its IXP in June 2011 with technical and policy assistance from the CTU and Packet Clearing House (PCH), a U.S.-based non-profit organization that works to support global Internet infrastructure.
According to Vanterpool, though the BVI’s IXP is yet to reach its full potential, other countries should begin taking steps to adopt their own IXPs.
“More has to be done to realize the full benefits of this development. Accordingly, I would like to see more emphasis toward adding value to our IXP, by exploring opportunities for data centers, data storage and local content,” he said.
“I urge my fellow member states in the CTU to also implement a national IXP which, when joined with the other IXPs in the region, will be a powerful catalyst for regional growth and development,” he said.