A recently launched initiative called CaribIX is bringing together Internet development expertise from around the world to help improve the quality of Internet service in the Caribbean.

Launched on March 21, CARIBIX aims to establish and develop internet exchange points in the French territories of Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy and Guadeloupe. An Internet Exchange Point, or IXP, is a piece of Internet infrastructure that allows network operators to interconnect their networks in order to exchange traffic locally without having to resort to expensive international infrastructure.

The project has received funding from the INTERREG Caraïbes programme, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union. The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) is coordinating the project, with the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) providing support at the regional level.

“Since 2006, the CTU has been promoting the establishment and operation of internet exchange points throughout the region. We are proud to be an integral part of this CARIBIX project, which directly supports the ongoing quest to develop reliable and resilient internet infrastructure in the Caribbean. This will also support the development of the local internet economy of the territories involved and we want to work with them in this regard beyond the implementation of this project,” said Rodney Taylor, CTU Secretary General.

The project’s overall objective is to create an economically viable broadband Internet network and to facilitate the exchange of Internet traffic among the French-speaking territories and other Caribbean jurisdictions. The project is expected to run until October.

“The collaboration between the CTU, local network operators and other regional stakeholders will produce tangible benefits to the entire citizenry of Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy and Guadeloupe. In keeping with the priorities of the INTERREG program, the CaribIX project aims to improve access to critical Internet infrastructure and in so doing create an environment for fostering social and economic development in the islands,” said Mr Gilles Bazajet, Director of the INTERREG Caraïbes programme secretariat.

Among the key stakeholders are project partners in Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy respectively.

“In Guadeloupe, the CaribIX project represents our continued commitment to building out Internet infrastructure that contributes to the digitization of the island. The establishment of an Internet exchange point in Guadeloupe will help increase local routing of the island’s Internet traffic, strengthen on-island network resilience and facilitate the development of a new digital economy,” said Mr. Jean Claude Nelson, 9th Vice President of Région Guadeloupe.

“In Saint Martin, the CaribIX project aims to create a digital bridge to existing internet infrastructure in Sint Maarten, to facilitate inter-island traffic exchange,” said Omar Morales, Chef de Mission, International Relations and Cooperation, INTERREG Caraïbes.

“In Saint Barthélemy, the CaribIX project will help increase local routing of network traffic thus improving the experience of the island’s users of Internet and telecommunications services ,” said Pascal Peuchot, Adjunct Director, Technical Services, Innovation, Energy Transition and Digitisation, Collectivité de Saint Barthélemy.

The CTU will provide technical guidance on setting up and operating internet exchange points in all three territories.

“With COVID-related public health measures affecting many aspects of everyday life, the establishment of IXPs can also play a significant role in the efficient and cost-effective delivery of government services such as e-health and e-education.   IXPs also lay a basis for accelerated digital transformation, including digital entrepreneurship and the development of a local content industry,” said Mr. Gary Kalloo, CTU Director of Business Development.

“The CaribIX project is poised to add value to the wider region. These new internet exchange points in Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy will complement those existing in the rest of the Caribbean. The establishment of an IXP in each of the French countries will ensure that domestic traffic is kept within the national borders and that consumers exchanging domestic traffic are able to continue doing so should there be any failure on the international facilities,” said Mr. Bevil Wooding, Special Advisor to the CTU.