Steps are being taken to improve local internet access, national cyber security and increase foreign investment appeal, through the creation of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Barbados.
In a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Deputy Chief of the Telecommunications Unit, Clifford Bostic, explained that the IXP would allow a local exchange of traffic between internet service providers (ISPs), instead of the current process where information is routed overseas and returned on island.
???The driving force behind the IXP is simply to expand the land grab for internet access in Barbados by setting the framework for lower costs….Now is a good time…now that the country is going through economic difficulties…so that when things become better, when the economy starts to grow, you have the footprint for doing business at a much lower cost. [We will also be] putting a Computer Incident Response Team in place so that you’re protecting your data and protecting your citizens from cybercrime,” he advised.
Revealing that the IXP should be operational by May, Mr. Bostic explained that ISPs and similar entities would ???no longer have to pay for international bandwidth out to Miami or New York in order to exchange traffic between their customers in Barbados???. He added that should translate into reduced operational costs for ISPs, which should lead to greater bandwidth and other products at affordable rates for customers.
Speaking about the changes internet users could expect, the Telecommunications Unit Deputy Chief said that persons using it primarily to send and receive email would not detect any drastic changes, but those who are browsing websites that are located in Barbados would notice faster access.
Mr. Bostic also said that it was expected that the Caribbean, through CARICOM, would formulate a strategy for regional IXPs, so that traffic originating from and destined for the Caribbean would remain in the region, thus creating faster access for users and greater appeal for foreign investors.
???Companies come into the Caribbean and they don’t just want to set up a business in [one country], they want to spread out across the Caribbean. So, if we can get to a point where we establish the IXPs, both national and regional, that would stimulate better indices…and encourage foreign companies [to come],??? the Deputy Chief surmised.
Telecommunications Officer, Alicia Trotman, added that the IXP would also be of great benefit because ???Barbados has no jurisdiction over where its [internet] traffic goes…So, if someone decides to look in on our traffic, we can’t do anything about it. Whereas, if we keep our traffic local, we have more control.???
She further explained that the Exchange would also serve research purposes, as ???In Barbados and the Caribbean, we don’t collect enough data on our internet traffic. And having an IXP here, in terms of research… [on] how the internet grows and functions, we can then collect stats from [it].???
The IXP is the product of a partnership between the Telecommunications Unit, the Data Processing Department, local ISPs and Packet Clearing House, a nonprofit institute that offers support in the establishment of IXPs. The IXP will be managed by a non-profit entity called the Barbados Internet Exchange (BARIX), which will comprise members from ISPs, nonprofits and other relevant institutions.