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Caribbean Tech Roundup – Weekend of 18th August 2017

Caribbean Tech Roundup


Welcome to The Caribbean Technology Round Up for the weekend of 18th August 2017, with host Russell Williams.

So When will St. Kitts and Nevis Get it’s IXP?

The question was asked on the most recent edition of ZIZ’s Working for You on Tuesday 15th August, by show presenter Lesroy Williams.

The question was fielded by Ervin Williams, Managing Director of the local National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (NTRC), who was a guest on the show along with the Commission’s Chairman Cosbert Manchester and ECTEL Director Quincy Prentice, Nevis Director of Technology.

In answer to the question Williams said, “St. Kitts and Nevis was the first country in the Caribbean to attack that situation of establishing an IXP – Internet Exchange Point.” We hear more in this clip from Working for You.

Williams, went on to explained what an IXP is and it’s benefits “An IXP is a switch that keeps local internet traffic local. For example if Quincy Prentice wants to send me an e-mail, currently that e-mail goes from here to Miami, switches and returns. If someone in St. Martin were to send me an e-mail it would go to Miami probably via Puerto Rico, switch and then return.”

Likewise if your department in Government was trying to send something to Inland Revenue, is likely to go to Miami, switch and return. Now that’s local data some of it might be private and confidential and you look at it in two aspects. One, where the information is of national interest and private and confidential, why would you want to risk having it traversing other territories to get back to you? When you could safeguard it by putting in an IXP, and having it routed safely within territory or within the region. Secondly, speed of delivery, it would cut the delivery time in nanoseconds.

Mr. Williams, explained that a Committee spearheaded by the IT Department, which is led by Ms. Amecia Mussenden, who is also a Commissioner on the NTRC had been formed to implement the IXP. We have the switch here in St. Kitts, and they are building a framework, with the necessary policies and procedures. While not wanting to speak for the Director of Technology, Mr. Williams went onto say that, “I think we should have the IXP established probably within the first half of next year or before.”

The concern is that by Williams’ own, admission St. Kitts and Nevis was the first country to begin the movement towards implementing an IXP, yet the country is still unable to enjoy any of the benefits extolled! It has already been five long years since Packet Clearing House (PCH) donated the Internet Route Server, “the switch” as the pre-cursor to establishing the first IXP in the region.

In that time a raft of other countries have all beaten us to the punch! Countries as far north as the Bahamas and Haiti to Trinidad & Tobago in the south, all have IXPs. Indeed, of the five ECTEL Member states we’re the only country not to have an IXP in operation! It’s hard to conceive that the operational requirements of an IXP in St. Kitts and Nevis would differ so significantly, that we cannot simply adopt the framework in use by the other four member states.

My guess, better yet my advice to stakeholders in the Federation is to watch and pray, no be vigilant and press the NTRC and Department of Technology to deliver.


Jamaican Community Access Points to be Powered by Solar Energy

Jamaica’s Science, Energy and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley has announced plans for the utilisation of solar energy to power the more than 250 community access points (CAPs) providing public Internet and technology services islandwide.

This, Dr Wheatley said, is in order to reduce the high costs associated with operating the facilities and to ensure their sustainability. He was addressing yesterday’s official opening of the $3.5-million Annotto Bay computer resource centre in St Mary, which was developed by the Universal Service Fund (USF), an agency of the ministry.

He noted that the ministry took the decision to provide solar-energy solutions, following a 2016 audit of the CAPs, which revealed that just over 70 were operating inefficiently, mainly due to high energy costs.

We made a decision that… all sites must have, as a critical component, solar solutions. This is important in order to remove that burden… of the high cost of (electricity) from the communities,” he said. He added that the solar project “is part of the sustainability programme of the USF”. The USF’s Director of Projects, Everold Simms, said that plans are being developed for the initial installation of solar solutions in six pilot centres and, thereafter, an overall rollout of the engagement.

The new CAP in Annotto Bay is the 256th facility that the USF has established and the seventh in St Mary.


Trinidad Parliamentarian Urges Gov’t to Act on Cyber Laws

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is being urged to introduce legislation to protect citizens from the backlash of personal information and compromising photos being posted on social media platforms.

The call comes from Public Services Association president and Tobago House of Assembly Minority leader Watson Duke, who said it was grossly unfair what members of the public had to endure after such incidents.

I am hereby calling upon the executive of the Government of T&T, led by Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, to do the honourable thing and enact law to protect citizens against abuse on social media.

Too much private information on persons’ personal lives is being leaked on social media and creating havoc in the home. Social media should not be used to shame people, but rather for building social relationships.”

Duke’s call came hours after compromising photos of a woman clad in a police uniform was circulated via social media over the weekend.

Following the release of the photos, thousands of comments were posted about the officer’s conduct, with some calling for her dismissal from the profession while also speculating about the effect it would have on the woman’s personal and family relations. The T&T Police Service has since launched a probe into that matter.

Duke said while there were limitless uses for social media, such as education, maintaining relationships and keeping informed of the latest news, “embarrassing people and trying to put people out of work is not the purpose of social media, so therefore I am calling on the government to act with great haste before we have a country of wounded people.”

Contacted on the matter, Public Administration and Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie assured that Government was working on several pieces of legislation to address the issue. In a release yesterday, he said the Data Protection Act and the Cybercrime Bill would effectively address the appropriate management and dissemination of content in the era of new media.

The Data Protection Act seeks to protect the personal privacy and information that is held by public bodies and the private sector. Cuffie said this act contained, “built in safeguards.”