Jamaica moves to establish Internet Exchange Point

Jamaican Internet Services Providers expressed interest in establishing an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Jamaica at a special symposium on the topic organised by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and facilitated by international experts from the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and Packet Clearing House (PCH). An IXP is a facility that allows local Internet Service Providers to connect their networks and exchange Internet traffic locally, on a cost-neutral basis. IXPs keep domestic internet traffic within the nation’s borders instead of sending it across expensive international links as currently obtains.

“An Internet Exchange Point is especially relevant when one considers the implications in terms of cost, network efficiency and privacy control; the exchange will assist in improving service delivery to end users as well as reduce the costs of exchanging traffic between the internet service providers”, says Technical Services Manager at the OUR, Curtis Robinson .

Two international experts from U.S.-based Packet Clearing House (PCH), the world’s leading implementer of Internet Exchange, were present for the event.  Bill Woodcock, Research Director, and Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, conducted sessions at the event covering the principles, benefits and requirements for establishing local IXPs.

Bevil Wooding explained, “A local IXP is considered a critical facility for facilitating the creation of domestic-focused Internet applications. A domestic IXP can serve as a catalyst for developing local content. They provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and innovators to create local Internet-based services that take advantage of the availability of more local bandwidth.”

IXPs also provide a direct benefit to participating ISPs by lowering their cost of delivering local traffic. “ISPs and consumers benefit from domestic Internet traffic exchange,” according to PCH’s Bill Woodcock, “this is why we are pleased to be working with the CTU to ensure that more countries in the Caribbean benefit from this proven international practice.”

The CTU, the regional inter-governmental body with responsibility for information and communications technology (ICT) has taken the lead in promoting development of the Caribbean ICT sector. According to CTU Secretary General, Ms. Bernadette Lewis, “The CTU sees its support of Caribbean Internet Exchange Point proliferation as consistent with its wider mandate to provide assistance to its members on matters of ICT development, capacity building and the formulation of harmonized Caribbean ICT policies.”

The Jamaica IXP symposium was held on February 19, 2013 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Jamaica ISPs have agreed to form a local IXP Working Group, facilitated by the OUR, to explore the next steps toward establishing a Jamaican Internet Exchange Point before the end of 2013.