Trinidad IXP Symposium Brings Prospect of a Faster Internet Nearer

On Friday, the 25th of September, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) in collaboration with Packet Clearing House (PCH) held a stakeholders symposium at the Hilton conference center in Port of Spain to advance the establishment of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Trinidad. Participants representing Internet Service Providers, Government, Regulators, Civil Society and Private Sector business came together for the half day meeting, designed to raise awareness of the technical considerations and economic and social benefits of a local IXP.

An Internet exchange point is the point where three or more Internet Service Providers interconnect to exchange traffic between their customers. IXPs are catalysts for internet-based economic activity and the development of local content and are considered fundamental to internet growth and development. IXP also benefits local consumers by providing faster experience for domestic online services. There are over three hundred internet exchange points across the world, but only three thus far in the Caribbean region.

The CTU, together with Packet Clearing House, is seeking to address this situation by raising awareness, promoting the benefits of national exchanges and facilitating the development process as part of its ongoing Caribbean ICT Roadshow.

The T&T IXP Symposium, moderated by Bill Woodcock and Bevil Wooding of Packet Clearing House examined how IXPs help stimulate market entry by new ISPs, web hosting and equipment co-location developers and content creators. Participants were also given an overview of international best practice using case studies from around the world. Considerations and strategies for establishing a local IXP were also discussed.

Mr Wooding, who is also Program Director for the CTU’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow noted “The Symposium has been a tremendous success. The collaboration by stakeholders and the consensus achieved have set the ISP community on the right course to establishing an IXP in Trinidad in the near future.” The group agreed that establishing an IXP is a top priority and voiced their commitment to working together to make it a reality. A checklist of practical next steps was drawn up and a working group established to take the process forward.

Packet Clearing House is a not-for-profit research institute with offices in San Francisco, London, and Kathmandu. PCH provides services to the public without cost or restriction wherever possible. PCH staff is drawn from the ranks of senior engineers and executives of Internet and telecommunications networking companies in many countries. Their decades of real-world experience in diverse regions of the world inform the organization’s work, perspective, and ability to bridge disparate communities of interest. PCH conductions workshops and develops and supports a variety of tools and services for the ISP, policymaking, and research communities.

The CTU is a policy formulation body, acting in an advisory capacity to the governments of the region. The organisation was established 20 years ago by regional heads of government to advise the regional governments on matters related to ICT. The CTU has been involved in the harmonization of policies across the Caribbean for the development of the ICT sector. It is governed by a Conference of Ministers from telecommunication and information ministries of the regional governments. Its membership base comprises governments, private sector and civil society organisations.

The Caribbean ICT Roadshow will visit 20 countries over a 10 month period and culminate with a regional ICT symposium in the second quarter of 2010.