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Growing the local net
In the Caribbean, much attention has been given to making Internet access more ubiquitous and more affordable to ordinary users. Recently, the spotlight has also been on the underlying critical infrastructure to support Internet usage in the region. Governments and Internet service providers been responding positively to ensure that a proper foundation is in place to safeguard the stability and resilience of the region’s nascent Internet economy.
Local problem, global solution
In many countries, poor connectivity between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) often results in the local Internet traffic being routed over expensive long-haul links, simply to return destinations within the country of origin. There Caribbean is no exception to this expensive inefficiency. For most countries in the region, Internet traffic between local ISPs is needlessly being routed as far away as the US and Europe before getting to intended local users. It is equivalent to a commuter in San Fernando, Trinidad being made to pass through Miami in the US, to get to his intended destination in Port-of-Span.
Around 2009 the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) began alerting Caribbean Governments and ISPs to this costly inefficiency, not just as it relates to internet traffic management, but to the region’s overall development agenda.
“Investments in technology initiatives, particularly in the services, tourism and education sectors, are being hamstrung by high costs, low bandwidth and unreliable Internet services. Our member countries complained that they were just not seeing the returns they expected from their Internet-dependent information and communications technology programs,” said Bernadette Lewis, secretary general of the CTU.