Nearshore Americas

A Call for the Caribbean to Improve Broadband Infrastructure

The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) has teamed up with US-based research firm Packet Clearing House (PCH) to advise the Caribbean governments how to bolster broadband infrastructure in the region. At a recent symposium held in St Vincent, PCH has suggested that Caribbean governments must increase the number of local Internet exchange points (IXP) as a first step to increase the Internet speed in the island nations.

An Internet exchange point is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers(ISPs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks. Experts say IXPs ease the movement of data on the network and thereby reduce the average per-bit delivery cost of their service.

“There are over three hundred internet exchange points across the world, but only a handful thus far in the Caribbean region. This has to change if local consumers are to benefit from a faster experience for domestic online services,” said Bevil Wooding, a consultant with Packet Clearing House.

“IXPs are catalysts for internet-based economic activity and the development of local content. They are considered fundamental to internet growth and development.”

The consulting firm is meeting officials in St Lucia and in St Vincent and the Grenadines to help them figure out how they can make use of advanced technology to improve the telecom infrastructure. The Telecom Union (CTU), on the other hand, is organizing workshops in each country to create awareness about the benefits of establishing an IXP for the local Internet network.

Analysts say the proliferation of IXPs could speed up the delivery of Internet-based services such as video conferencing, voice of IP, data backup and online gaming. The initiative to bolster the broadband network is backed by the World Bank. Nevertheless, there are information as to how much money the international bank is lending for the initiative.

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Strengthening the telecom infrastructure is critical to the Caribbean, where governments are pinning hopes on online sector to generate jobs and reverse economic fortunes. According to reports, unemployment is high in most of the countries.

The initiative is part of the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) and is funded by the World Bank.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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