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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 host Lesroy Williams who as we shall see later had clearly done his research.

The question was fielded by Ervin Williams, Managing Director of the local National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (NTRC), who was a guest along with the Commission’s Chairman Cosbert Manchester and ECTEL Director Quincy Prentice, Nevis Director of Technology, who were there to give some insight to the world of Telecommunications regulation.

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.”

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, they are building a framework, with the necessary policies and procedures. Mr. Williams went onto say that, “while not wanting to speak for the Director of Technology, 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.