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CarPIF Regional Connectivity Meeting to Address Affordable and Resilient Internet Access

The Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada has been selected as the venue for the fifth regional meeting of the Caribbean Internet Peering and Interconnection Forum, CarPIF, set for June 12 to 13. The annual international event, which draws Internet giants like Facebook and Google to the region, is focused on developing the Internet in the Caribbean by improving policy and building relationships between network operators and content providers.

The announcement was made by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) and the Internet Society, co-organisers of the yearly event that brings together policymakers, regulators, private sector leaders and academics.

“CarPIF plays a key role in bringing together different parties to form the relationships and agreements necessary to increase local traffic exchange across the region. This event presents an opportunity for Grenada and the region to showcase the steps being taken to accelerate Internet development in the Caribbean,” said Bevil Wooding, CaribNOG Executive Director and co-founder of CarPIF.

“In addition, the forum addresses the peculiar policy and regulatory challenges that have made internet connectivity, access and affordability difficult in some Caribbean countries. Removing barriers to infrastructure development, content availability and Internet traffic distribution can have a significant and positive on Internet growth in the Caribbean, along with the benefits of economic development and social empowerment that follow,” he added.

Launched in Barbados in 2015, CarPIF promotes the development of Internet exchange points and of regional and international interconnections between Internet service providers, content delivery networks and other content and network service providers.

“We will be building on the momentum of past meetings where major international Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Akamai have participated alongside our regional and national internet service providers,” said Wooding, who also serves as the Caribbean Outreach Manager for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).

By staging CarPIF in Grenada this year, the organisers hope to highlight how the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has been leading by example in the successful establishment of Internet exchange points in countries like Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Increasing Caribbean interconnections requires collaboration and partnership among a diverse set of stakeholders,” said Brent Mc Intosh, the local event coordinator and Head of Regional IP Operations at Cable and Wireless.

“Hosting CarPIF 2019 provides Grenada and the OECS with the opportunity to showcase local initiatives aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of Internet services in the region. This is important because improved Internet services facilitate greater social and economic development,” he said.

The meeting is also significant because forum celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2019.

“From its inaugural meeting, CarPIF has sought to bring together key infrastructure, service, and content providers to improve network interconnection, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of Internet users and services in the Caribbean,” said Shernon Osepa, Regional Affairs Manager for the Latin America and The Caribbean Bureau of the Internet Society, who together with Wooding co-founded CarPIF.

“One important factor in the Caribbean region is its vulnerability to natural disasters. Raising awareness of the need to build resilient telecoms and Internet infrastructure is very important. Internet exchange points can play a significant role, to a certain extent, to keep local communications ongoing also during a natural disaster,” Osepa added.

Event organisers said the Internet Society, CaribNOG, Packet Clearing House and ARIN intend to deepen the strategic partnerships cultivated with local and regional stakeholders such as the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and the OECS Commission.

“The relationships cultivated in the CarPIF community are crucial to the ongoing development of Internet Infrastructure and services, and the acceleration of digital innovation and inclusion in the Caribbean,” Wooding said.

More than 100 participants from the Caribbean, North America and Europe attended the 2018 CarPIF in Belize City, Belize. Organisers will hope to surpass this in 2019.

By Gerard Best, Development Journalist

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