By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
This week, a historic cooperation was formed between the internet service providers (ISP) in Belize to collectively establish the country’s first internet exchange point.
Nine ISPs, all competitors, gathered for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the University of Belize’s West Landivar campus on Thursday, where the physical structure will be housed. Those included Belize Telemedia Limited, Speednet, BroadBand Belize, and Network Solutions.
An Internet Exchange Point is a physical infrastructure through which internet service providers agree to exchange local internet traffic between their networks. Traditionally, local internet traffic would need to leave Belize to an ISP in the United States and then get rerouted back to Belize. Once the ISP is completed in Belize, all that local traffic will be routed in country.
Bevil Wooding, internet strategist with the international ICT (Information and communications technology) firm Packet Clearing House, speaking at the signing, said that the event was a major achievement not only for Belize, and an unprecedented triumph for the Caribbean.
“With the Belize Internet Exchange Point local operators can:reap substantial cost savings, provide substantial local bandwidth. Meanwhile, local internet users can benefit from: significantly improve local Internet performance and exciting new opportunities for local content developers and Internet entrepreneurs,” Wooding said.
Roosevelt Blades, chair of the ISP task force explained that the signing of the MOU is the first step in a phased process. The signing, however, bears great significance for the telecommunications sector.
“After the signing of the MOU the ISPs will sign paring agreement, then they will set up a legal entity called the Belize Internet Exchange Point, before the work can begin,” Blades said.
He added that there are future plans to have a similar facility constructed in Belmopan.
Other signatures to the MOU included NetKing Solutions, Centaur Communications Corporation, and Alliance IP Belize Limited.