Caribbean Small Islands

The island nations of the Caribbean have suffered historically from high communication costs and market dominance by a small number of regional operators. The lack of competitive markets has resulted in relatively few ISPs and IXPs emerging in the region with IXPs existing, at present, only in the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, Grenada, St Maarten, Curacao and Dominica. Exchanges located on St Maarten (OCIX) and Curacao are the largest in the region with peak traffic of about 430Mbps and 3.8Gbps, respectively.

However, several other Caribbean countries, including Barbados, St. Lucia, Jamaica, and St Kitts and Nevis, are in the process of establishing local IXPs with technical assistance from Packet Clearing House (PCH)[1], a U.S.-based research non-profit working to improve interconnection, and with support from the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, a regional ICT policy development agency.

Through a regional outreach initiative, branded the Caribbean ICT Roadshow, the CTU and PCH have been raising awareness of the purpose of IXPs and their potential benefits to development in the region. As a result, two IXPs emerged in 2011, BVI-IX in the British Virgin Islands and the Grenada Internet Exchange Point (GREX).  These IXPs were “turned-up” on following a watershed agreement to exchange local traffic from the region's largest ISPs, which had traditionally been reticent about exchanging local traffic. The governments and national regulatory agencies played roles in supporting the IXP implementations, while CTU and PCH aided the process with technical and policy recommendations and interventions to help bring the service providers into agreement.

Since then, the Dominica National Internet Exchange Point (DANIX) was launched in early 2013.  Working groups to help set up IXPs have been established in St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, St Lucia, Suriname, and Barbados. Root domain name server copies have also been set up in St Maarten, Grenada and Haiti.

[1]    Much of this section is based on PCH's Bevil Wooding article: