Gustavia, Saint Barthélemy. July 2, 2022—The Saint Barthélemy internet exchange point (SBH-IX) was officially launched on June 30, in a formal event hosted by the Collectivité of Saint Barthélemy in Gustavia. The SBH-IX launch ushers the territory into a more advanced phase of its digital evolution.
An internet exchange point, or IXP, is a piece of physical infrastructure that allows network operators to interconnect and exchange traffic locally without having to resort to expensive international routes. The newly launched SBH-IX will facilitate the interconnection of the networks of the internet service providers within the territory. That increased local routing of network traffic is expected to translate into tangible improvements in network performance, thus improving connectivity and quality of service for network users locally, regionally and internationally.
“Today, the Internet is ubiquitous and Internet access has become an essential service. Much in the same way that everyone needs water or electricity, digital communication services are essential. We have a responsibility to develop the Internet and make it more accessible, not only to our population but also to our visitors,” said Mr. Maxime Desouches, Vice President of the territorial council, Collectivité of St. Barthélemy.
“Because we are a small market, we have taken the lead in this initiative, and the Collectivité will continue to support the establishment of the infrastructure required in order to make access equitable for all prospective service providers on an impartial and neutral basis, so that the Internet access can be made available to all users,” he added.
The SBH-IX launch comes under the auspices of the CaribIX project, which is coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).
“The CTU is honoured to be the implementing partner of the CaribIX project. The commissioning of the SBH-IX heralds a major step towards ensuring secure and resilient critical Internet infrastructure on the island of Saint Barthélemy. It bears the promise to enhance end users’ experience and to stimulate the digital economy on the island,” said Mr Gary Kalloo, Business Development Manager, CTU.
The new exchange is also a critical component of the territory’s disaster risk reduction strategy.
“The implementation of the internet exchange point on the territory provides an additional opportunity to reinforce the resilience and quality of its digital communication infrastructure. The possibility of locally exchanging internet traffic will also offer our population the opportunity to preserve access to local services in the event of a break in the submarine cable servicing the island.”Mr. Fabrice Querrard, Territorial Councillor in charge of ICT, Collectivité of Saint Barthélemy.
Thursday’s launch was followed by the signing of an IXP Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which signifies the willingness of the IXP participants to begin peering.
“There is no Internet without collaboration, and there can be no internet exchange point without collaboration. SBH-IX is a team result,” said Eve Riboud, CEO, Dauphin Telecom.
The formal commissioning of SBH-IX is the fruit of several years of collaboration between government, private sector and technical actors across the English and French-speaking Caribbean. Participants are already looking forward to tangible improvements in Internet services.
“The establishment of an IXP allows content delivery networks, such as Amazon, Akamai and Cloudflare, to set up on the territory, which in turn allows users of the Internet to access those respective services faster and more reliably,” said Antoine Querrard, CEO, Solutech.
The CaribIX project also aims to set up internet exchange points in Saint Martin and Guadeloupe, and promises to deliver better Internet speed, security and service quality across the three territories.
In May, a CTU team of Internet development experts visited Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin and Guadeloupe to conduct strategic consultations in all three territories, in order to provide technical guidance on setting up and growing the new Internet exchange points.
In April, a smaller delegation headed by Mr. Rodney Taylor, Secretary General of the CTU, visited H.E. Xavier Lédée, President of the Collectivité of Saint Barthelemy, Mr. Jean Claude Nelson, 9th Vice-President, Regional Council of Guadeloupe, and H.E. Louis Mussington, President of the Collectivité of Saint Martin.
The CaribIX project received funding from the INTERREG Caraïbes programme, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union. It was formally launched in a virtual ceremony in March and is expected to run until October.