Dominica Moves to Develop Domestic Internet

ROSEAU, Dominica – The Minister responsible for Telecommunications in Dominica, Ambrose George, has declared his Government’s intention to facilitate the establishment of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Dominica. This move is expected to bring significant benefit to Internet users and entrepreneurs. Speaking at a recent Caribbean Internet Exchange Point Awareness symposium hosted by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and US-based nonprofit research institute Packet Clearing House (PCH), Minister George noted that IXPs were an important facility to encourage domestic development and economic growth.

“Countries all across the world have realised and exploited the benefits of IXPs. Establishing an Internet Exchange Point in Dominica is expected to bring several benefits for our Government, as well as for our citizens and business community.”

The minister described the IXP as a facility that allows for the free exchange, or peering, of domestic Internet traffic between Internet service Providers (ISPs).

Symposium participants, including the two major Internet Service Providers LIME and Marpin Telecoms, agreed to form a working group to consider the information presented. The working group also committed to collaborate on defining the next steps toward establishing an Internet Exchange Point in Dominica.

The Symposium, which was held at the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica’s capital city, Roseau,  was attended by a wide cross-section of the stakeholder community including officials from the Government, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), the private sector, media houses, ISPs, as well as students from the Dominica Community College. The event was facilitated by Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist with PCH, and Stephen Lee, a US-based ICT expert.

Wooding, who delivered the feature presentation at the Symposium, described IXPs as an internationally recognised mechanism for achieving cost and service gains and ICT sector growth.

“Accelerating the spread of the Internet in the Caribbean, encouraging development of Internet-based services and reaping real social benefit is dependent on reducing Internet connectivity and bandwidth costs and improving quality of service across the region,” Wooding said.

He described building an IXP as a technically trivial exercise, but he noted that building the level of trust and collaboration required between stakeholders is not always straightforward.

Wooding, who also serves as the Program Director for the CTU’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow, noted that over the past sixteen years, PCH has built or supported more than one third of the world's 300 IXPs.  His presentation drew from several international examples to demonstrate how IXPs can be practically leveraged in the region to address the issue of local content development, community empowerment and new types of Caribbean innovation and entrepreneurship.

Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU, reiterated her organisation’s long-term commitment to regional development, stating, “The CTU will continue to seek out and partner with organizations that demonstrate a sincere commitment to national development.”

She added, “Through the CTU’s Caribbean ICT Roadshow we plan to expand our outreach to Governments and to help policy makers understand the changes to the regulatory and business environment that an IXP can bring.  We are also prepared to work with ISPs and industry stakeholders to identify new opportunities for technological innovation across the Caribbean.”

About Packet Clearing House

Packet Clearing House is a not-for-profit research institute with offices in San Francisco, London, Port of Spain 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.

About Caribbean Telecommunications Union

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.