Barbados to host first-ever regional Internet peering forum

If you live in the Caribbean, you don't need to be a computer expert to know that the region's Internet services need to improve.

If your connection falters so often that you've long since stopped calling customer service for redress, then you’ve got a pretty good idea about the challenges of regional connectivity.

Or if you’ve ever tried to launch a web-based startup, but have found yourself at a competitive disadvantage simply because download or upload speeds aren't cutting it, then you have already have a decent understanding of why the region needs more robust Internet infrastructure.

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Grenada Hosts Successful CaribNOG Meeting

Grenada played host to the latest gathering of Caribbean techies and computer network engineers this past week, staging the fourth regional gathering of the Caribbean Network Operators Group. The week-long event drew over 100 participants from across the region and around the world to the tiny Eastern Caribbean island nation for a series of presentations and hands-on technical workshops.

At the opening of the event, CaribNOG coordinator Bevil Wooding described the group as a “unique forum for regional network technicians and technology professionals to share experiences and build practical skills.” He explained that one of the main goals of the volunteer-based group was “to build a regional community of technical experts capable designing, building and supporting the technology infrastructure needed to take the region into the future.”

Brent McIntosh, a senior network engineer at Columbus Communications spoke in glowing terms about his first time experience at CaribNOG. “This has been an excellent forum for highlighting important technical issues such as network security, Internet exchange points and IP network design. The sessions have been extremely relevant to the issues we face on a daily basis as network managers and computer specialists. I was also glad to see that most of the experts are drawn from right here in the Caribbean.”

Clair Craig, a doctoral researcher and an IT services manager at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus was also quick to praise the presenters. Craig said “The high quality of the technical content presented was a major highlight of this CaribNOG meeting. But what struck me even more was the willingness of the presenters to share their knowledge and experiences. Every network engineer in the Caribbean should be part of this CaribNOG experience.”

CaribNOG program lead, Jamaican-born, Stephen Lee indicated that CaribNOG “participants typically include engineering and network administration personnel from ISPs, Universities, private sector and government.”  Lee, the CEO of the network services firm ArkiTechs Inc. added, “Participating researchers also present summaries of their work for feedback from the technical community.”

CaribNOG events are also being supported by a number of international Internet development organizations including, the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) and Packet Clearing House (PCH).

The next CaribNOG meeting is scheduled for Barbados from the 24 – 26 April 2013.

Grenada On Drive to Increase Local Internet Content

ST. GEORGES, GRENADA The Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada is embarking on a drive to increase the amount of local content available to Grenadian Internet users. Speaking at the launch of the re-located Grenada Internet Exchange Point, Hon. Nazim Burke, Minister of Finance and Energy stated that the Government of Grenada is in full support of initiatives to create Internet-based content that specifically targets the needs of Grenada and its citizens.

The Grenada Internet exchange point is a facility that allows Grenadian ISPs to keep domestic Internet traffic in country instead of routing it through the US or Europe. According to Aldwyn Ferguson, head of the Grenada National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), “the Grenada Internet Exchange Point and the new local DNS Root server copy are important steps in our efforts to improve the quality, efficiency and resilience of Internet services in Grenada.”

Ferguson commended local service providers Cable & wireless Grenada Limited trading as LIME and Columbus Communications (Grenada) Limited (FLOW) for working collaboratively to implement the new facilities. He also singled out Ms. Bernadette Lewis of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and Mr. Bevil Wooding of the US-based non-profit Packet Clearing House for providing the technical assistance and training support.

The Grenada NTRC played the role of facilitator in guiding the project from concept to implementation.

Minister Burke urged the Grenada NTRC Commissioners and staff to continue the process by working on local content initiatives. Describing the establishment of the local Internet exchange point as an important first step, Minister Burk stated,

“At this point we may not have a large market, or much content, or many users, but we are building for the future. The Grenada IXP provides a pathway to technology-based innovation, access, and choice for the national community.”

He said the Government has been hearing the laments of innovators and mobile application developers who have been clamouring for higher bandwidth for their local applications services.

“As more citizens go online, as Governments move to e-government,  schools to  distance learning,  traditional media go to e-publications and broadcasting and ICT based industries are spawned,  local content for domestic consumption will grow    and the value of an Internet Exchange Point as critical internet infrastructure will be better understood across the region.”

Minister Burke believes that the Grenada process can be replicated in other Caribbean territories. He said other Eastern Caribbean Governments have already been in contact with the Grenada NTRC to get information on setting up Internet exchange points and strategies for encouraging development of local Internet content.

Grenada's IXP Shows Growth, Delivers Improved Internet Service

ST. GEORGES, GRENADA. 22-11-2012 - Grenada Internet Service Providers touted the benefits the Grenadian Internet Exchange Point (IXP) is delivering to their networks and their customers at a Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) regional meeting in Grenada. Senior representatives from LIME and Columbus Communications described the improvements in local Internet traffic routing and local content delivery experienced since the Grenada IXP was launched in May 2011.

An Internet exchange point is a physical facility that allows ISPs to exchange domestic Internet traffic locally instead of through more distant facilities in the US or Europe.

James Pitt, acting General Manager at LIME Grenada explained, “The Grenada Internet Exchange Point and recently implemented DNS Root server copy are important steps in a collaborative effort between LIME, Columbus and the Grenada NTRC to improve the efficiency and robustness Internet services in Grenada.”

Speaking to CaribNOG’s technical audience of over 100 computer network specialists and enthusiasts drawn from across the Caribbean, Pitt described lower network latency, reduced average-per-bit-delivery costs, improved traffic routing and greater incentive to serve local content, as some of the key reasons Grenada has implemented an Internet exchange.

Columbus Communications Regional Manager Network Services, Brent McIntosh, supported his LIME counterpart. According to McIntosh both Columbus and LIME benefit from the Grenada IXP.

“The collaboration between LIME and Flow to establish the Grenada IXP in May 2011, and then to migrate it to a neutral facility at the Grenada NTRC this year is testament to our willingness to work together in the interest of developing the Grenada market.”

McIntosh told the CaribNOG gathering that the collaboration does not end with the Grenada exchange point.  Both organizations will be encouraging and supporting the development local content that can take advantage of the local IXP.

CaribNOG coordinator Bevil Wooding, an Internet strategist at Packet Clearing House commended the Grenada ISPs and encouraged local content providers to take full advantage of the local IXP and DNS Root server. “Opportunity beckons Grenada as it builds out its domestic Internet ecosystem. Companies, schools and entrepreneurs can now provide new local services based on bandwidth-intensive applications like video and audio streaming; VoIP; domestic data backup; new e-government services; distance learning; e-health; and other Internet-based applications that can leverage the local IXP.

The Caribbean Telecommunications Union and the US-based Internet-support non-profit, Packet Clearing House, have been promoting the proliferation of Internet Exchange points in the Caribbean. The initiative has received support from the CTUs member Governments and, increasingly, cooperation from regional Internet Service Providers.

There are now six operational Internet exchange points in the Caribbean, located in the British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti and St Maarten. Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago are in the process of setting up local exchange points. There are over 250 IXPs globally, most of which are located in developed countries.

Grenada Internet Exchange Point Relocation

Grenada Internet Exchange Point and DNS Root Server Ceremony

Remarks by
Mr. Bevil Wooding,
Program Director, Caribbean Telecommunications Union;
Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House

At the
Maurice Bishop Highway, Grand Anse, St. George's, Grenada

Wednesday 21 November 2012


On behalf of the Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Ms. Bernadette Lewis and Packet Clearing House, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Grenada on the relocation Grenada Internet Exchange point and the activation of a local instance of the DNS Root Server.

For the past five years the Caribbean Telecommunications Union together with Packet Clearing House, has been promoting the proliferation of Internet Exchange Points in the Caribbean.

Today, we can declare with confidence that Grenada is serious about ensuring that its citizens have the proper enabling environment to pursue its ICT-based national development goals.  In the process, Grenada is also sending a clear signal to the region that technological success can be achieved where there is vision, leadership and collaboration.

Within the global Internet community, IXPs are proven to be essential to facilitating Internet-based economic growth. There is a saying that IXPs take 20% technical engineering and 80% social engineering. This means that building an IXP is a technically trivial exercise. However, as I am sure all those who were part of the process will attest, achieving the necessary focus and collaboration between the stakeholders requires new levels of cooperation and trust.

The official launch of the Grenada Internet Exchange Point today is a major achievement not only for the country, but for the Caribbean. The precedents and lessons learnt from the Grenada process are already being applied in other countries of the region. This should underscore for us all, how significant this occasion is, and how important the Grenada Internet Exchange Point is to building the domestic Internet economy.

Exchange of local traffic is fundamental to developing the kind of domestic-based activity necessary to spark new levels of indigenous innovation, local content creation, and industry growth.

And this is exactly where the focus must now shift to – Industry growth and economic development.

The CTU and PCH have already provided hardware and technical training and the DNS Root Server copy as part of its contribution to the establishment of the Grenada Exchange. Now, I want to affirm our commitment to working with local stakeholders as well as other regional bodies such as CaribNOG (the Caribbean Network Operators Group) to strengthen the peering facilities, build technical competence and stimulate the development of local content.

The CTU and Packet clearing House are also committed to supporting you in educating stakeholders on how to capitalize on the opportunities an IXP presents; to promoting internet innovation and to encouraging youth in responsible and beneficial use of the Internet and its resources. This is what we do in other locations across the world. We will be happy to provide this ongoing support and training to the people of Grenada.

Opportunity beckons Grenada as it moves to take full advantage of the new IXP. Companies, schools and entrepreneurs can provide new local services based on video and audio streaming; VoIP; domestic data backup; new e-government services; distance learning; e-health; and other applications that depend on local traffic exchange.

The vision of being able to properly deploy local Internet-based applications and services is now a reality. In this regard, we can look at the IXP launch a small, but vital step, in the journey toward the development of the Grenada Internet Economy.

To the Government of Grenada; to Dr. Spencer Thomas, Chairman Grenada NTRC, Mr. Aldwyn Ferguson, Coordinator NTRC, the Commissioners and the hard-working team at the Grenada NTRC; to the local ISPs – LIME and Columbus Communications (Flow Grenada) – I again say congratulations!

Keep in mind, however, that the journey has only just begun. Now, I encourage you to apply even greater levels of leadership, collaboration and determination to keep the process, the progress and the promise moving onward.

Thank you.