BVI-Tube A Possibility, But We Must “Wake Up”

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It is possible that one day the BVI will have its own local Youtube and possibly become like Singapore, but the Territory has been advised that it needs to move forward with the Internet Exchange Point (IXP) project that has been lingering for years now.

The BVI Internet Exchange Point was established in 2010 to serve as a vital part of the telecommunications landscape. The primary goal was to improve the Internet economy of the Territory, and ultimately reduce costs associated with Internet traffic exchanged between the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Territory by ensuring that the local internet traffic is routed locally.

While stressing the need for an IXP the Junior Minister for Tourism, and Eighth District Representative, Hon. Marlon Penn admonished Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool as well as the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to move forward with the project, which – he stated – has the potential of changing the BVI’s telecommunication landscape.

While speaking in the House of Assembly on 21 March the Junior Minister announced: “I know that the TRC has been working on this Exchange Point since 2006, since the Commission came into play and we are still at the point where we have not developed this exchange. I think it is something that the Chairman and CEO needs to really look to create the required level of connectivity between the carriers.”

Hon. Penn explained that he is very familiar with the possibilities that could be realised with an Internet Exchange Point and ventured into explaining how the BVI’s IXP will change things: “What that (IXP) does is create an environment, a more efficient environment for businesses to start up. For instance persons who are in the film industry, and the music industry have a network within a network to sort of exchange their talents, exchange their products … Persons in the local arena have access to that local content, so you would have a Youtube for the BVI so to speak where you don’t have to use your data to have access to that network. There are so many possibilities from a business and an e-commerce point of view. If we are to get these tools up and running…”

In noting that the project should not continue to linger as it is, the Legislator urged the TRC to consider moving the IXP initiative further: “Minister, Chairman, and CEO I am imploring you to push to get this done. I think it is very important for us. We see a lot of our young Virgin Islanders are into the arts, into the media, and so forth, there is no limitation in terms of what they can achieve, and what they can accomplish. I will encourage the TRC, and the Chairman to push this initiative, because I believe that we have a really good opportunity here.”

The Junior Minister pointed out an IXP has the potential to be an economic booster and used Singapore as an example of what can be achieved: “That is how Singapore transformed their economy through ICT, through the internet; and through technology in general. They are a small nation that now is one of the largest amongst proficient and most efficient nations in the world. It is all driven on the back of technology, and proper structure. We have the ability to do it here as well,” Hon. Penn stated.

In an interview with The Island Sun newspaper last year Mr. Elford Parsons, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of the BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission disclosed that the Government is desirous of exploring the full potential of the IXP offering, and furthering its development.

Mr. Parsons noted that the BVI was in a leading position when it first established its IXP approximately six years ago, but now he said that other jurisdictions are leading in that area:  “Interestingly when it was first conceived back in 2010-2011, I think we were like the second country in the Caribbean who were creating an Internet Exchange Point. Unfortunately a lot has happened since then, and now we are way down the list; so we are keen to re-establish ourselves as a premier destination with an IXP operating in the Caribbean.”

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