BVI News

Twice the price -Telecom firms making life harder

It is actually not true to say the internet is up and running in the BVI; it is not up and running – Bevil Wooding

By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Journalist

Telecommunication providers in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have refused to use interconnection arrangements in the territory that could make internet cheaper and faster for their customers, said Internet Strategist and Advisor to the Caribbean Telecommunications Union Bevil Wooding.

He said the technology that facilitates cheaper and faster internet speeds is called an Internet Exchange Point (IXP).

It was first set up in the BVI some six years ago.

Effectively, the IXP allows networks to interconnect and exchange information without first having to go through one or more third-party networks in other jurisdictions.

“That means anybody running services that are connected to the exchange point can access those services at a cost that is significantly lower than the very expensive international transit cables that you used to connect in New York, Miami, Paris, and London – which is exactly what is happening now. Most of the traffic goes outside of the territory,” said Wooding, who has helped to set up and monitor IXP in the BVI over the years.

Ahead of the launch of an upgraded version of the IXP technology locally, telecom providers are being told to connect, stay connected, and stop depriving customers of better internet services.

“They (Flow, CCT, and Digicel) stopped pairing [to the IXP]. So it is actually not true to say the internet is up and running in the BVI. It is not up and running. Pairing is what you call the connections that take place at the exchange point – these no-cost connections,” Wooding explained.

“When I say they stopping pairing, it means that, instead of sending the traffic to the exchange point [in the BVI], they continue to send it back up to Miami.”

That results in local customers being charged double to use the internet, Wooding said.

“You are paying twice. You’re going to send it out to be exchanged in Miami or some other place only to be brought back in to be consumed by a user. That is the issue that the local IXP is designed to solve… By launching a local exchange point in the BVI, you are giving local [internet] traffic a local option for being exchanged to get to a local consumer. So any application – whether it’s government services, whether it’s media, whether it’s somebody running security cameras that track the movement of families or personal possessions, or it’s the security services trying to keep control over the borders and over secured facilities – those things don’t need to go outside to come back in,” added Wooding.

He further stated that local telecommunication providers should get on board, especially with the impending upgrade to the IXP in the territory.

“We are saying enough is enough. It is time for better, faster, cheaper, local internet. The citizens deserve it; the internet users deserve it,” Wooding further said.

During a press conference last week, he stated that the locally based IXP is being upgraded with – among other things – better equipment.

“The bottom line for all of these changes is that the internet exchange point is going to get a lot closer to its promise of providing faster and lower cost traffic exchange… Now they’re in the process of configuring the new equipment and configuring the new services around the inter-exchange point. So, stuff has been moving and you can look forward to another announcement – we are hoping – within the next several weeks about the re-launch of what we call in the BVI, X2,” Wooding said.

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