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Saint Martin Launches Smart-IX Internet Exchange Under CaribIX Project

The recent launch of a new internet exchange point in Saint Martin has propelled the territory towards a better, faster and more resilient Internet.

The French Caribbean territory’s new IXP, called Smart-IX, was launched in October under the auspices of a recently launched CaribIX project, which is coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), supported by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), funded by the INTERREG Caraïbes programme, and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union.

“In Saint Martin, Internet access has become absolutely essential to the everyday life of our population and our visitors. The Collectivity of Saint Martin will continue to support the establishment of underlying Internet infrastructure on an impartial and neutral basis so that access can be made available to all users,” said Mr. Alain Richardson, 1st Vice-President of Saint Martin.

The small island has an interesting geography with some unique Internet governance implications. The northern French part is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic. As part of France, the French part of the island is also part of the European Union. The southern Dutch part comprises Sint Maarten and is one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

“Through the CaribIX project, our aim is to create a digital bridge to existing internet infrastructure in Sint Maarten, to facilitate inter-island traffic exchange. The growth of Smart-IX will redound to the economic development of the island,” Richardson added.

The Smart-IX launch came after a long period of strategic collaboration between government, private sector and technical actors across the English, Dutch and French-speaking Caribbean.

The official commissioning included the signing of an IXP memorandum of understanding, which signifies the willingness of the first Smart-IX members to begin peering. Signatories included Eve Riboud, CEO, Dauphin Telecom; and Kendall Dupersoy, CEO, TELEM.

More participants are expected to join as Smart-IX continues to develop and grow.

A CaribNOG team of IXP development experts visited Saint Martin from October 17 to 21 to conduct hardware installation, software configuration and human resource development.

“Smart-IX’s installed hardware includes a Cisco ASR router, two Cisco Nexus switches, and two Dell management servers, as well as a Fortinet firewall for secure access to remote management. The infrastructure will support IPv4 and IPv6. IXP Manager software was also installed for infrastructure management and traffic monitoring. ” said Stephen Lee, CaribIX Senior Technical Specialist and CaribNOG Program Director.

CaribIX also aims to set up and grow internet exchange points in Saint Barthélemy and Guadeloupe and promises to deliver better Internet performance, resilience and security across the three territories.  In July, Saint Barthélémy completed a critical step in the growth and development of its new Internet Exchange, called SBH-IX, when operators met to sign a memorandum of understanding signalling their agreement to begin peering.

There are hundreds of IXPs in the world, with more than a dozen already in the Caribbean, including Belize, Curacao, Grenada, Haiti, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, St Maarten, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, and ongoing development work in Guadeloupe and St Kitts.

By Gerard Best, Development Journalist

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