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Growing the Internet 12 June 2019

Caribbean Community Gathers Together to Discuss Improving Connectivity in the Region

By Shernon OsepaFormer Director, Caribbean Affairs and Development

Cooperation has been key to expanding Internet access around the globe. Ten years ago, the African region created AfPIF, a space focused on collaboration about among regional actors on topics related to peering and interconnection. Inspired by that project, in 2014 I approached Bevil Wooding to create a similar space for the Caribbean.

In recent years, the Caribbean has been losing its traditional industries, such as sugar and banana production. In this context, the Internet can be seen as a good opportunity to leverage the local economy. Fortunately, the idea gained the support of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG). That’s how the Caribbean Peering and Interconnection Forum (CarPIF) was born.

From its inaugural meeting in 2015, CarPIF has sought to bring together key infrastructure, service, and content providers to improve network interconnection, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of Internet users and services in the Caribbean. This year, the meeting will be held from 12 to 13 June in Grenada, with the aim of highlight the active role played by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in the successful deployment of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in countries like Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“CarPIF plays a key role in bringing together different parties to form the relationships and agreements necessary to increase local traffic exchange across the region. This event presents an opportunity for Grenada and the region to showcase the steps being taken to accelerate Internet development in the Caribbean,” said the CaribNOG Executive Director and co-founder of CarPIF, Bevil Wooding.

“In addition, the forum addresses the peculiar policy and regulatory challenges that have made Internet connectivity, access, and affordability difficult in some Caribbean countries. Removing barriers to infrastructure development, content availability, and Internet traffic distribution can have a significant and positive on Internet growth in the Caribbean, along with the benefits of economic development and social empowerment that follow.”

A very important fact unique to the Caribbean region is its vulnerability to natural disasters. Raising awareness on the need to build resilient telecoms and Internet infrastructures is very important. IXPs can play a key role to keep local communications ongoing during a natural disaster. Collaborative spaces such as CarPIF stress the importance of deploying strategic partnerships – because nobody Internets alone.

Internet exchange points provide a vital way to increase the affordability and quality of connectivity in local communities. Read the Internet Society’s policy brief on IXPs.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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