Changes are on the horizon to broadband Internet access in Barbados.
Clifford Bostic, deputy chief telecommunications officer in the Division of Energy and Telecommunications, explained that the Government was in the process of ensuring that improvements were made in order to lower overhead costs to Internet providers and the country, while being able to provide greater online protection for children.
Bostic was speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of World Telecommunication And Information Society Day 2014 celebrations
in Heroes Square today. The theme this year is Broadband For Sustainable Development. The island’s Internet providers, along with the amateur radio society of Barbados, came together to showcase and sell their products and services.
“So one of the things that we are working on today is something called the Internet exchange point. What that is all about is how the traffic is exchanged between the service providers.
“Currently, that traffic transits to Miami or New York before it can go from one service provider to another and there is a cost for that international bandwidth. So with the Internet exchange point in place [here] that cost is reduced tremendously because the traffic doesn’t have to leave Barbados at all. So our local Internet exchange point reduces the overhead cost of providing Internet access to customers,” explained Bostic.
He said it was the intention of the Ministry to encourage each regional territory to have its own local Internet exchange point and then move to establish a regional one.
He said all structures, including equipment, were in place and were waiting to be “turned on”. He said, however, there needed to be legal framework put in place to accommodate the development. Bostic said newcomer to the industry, Flow, would also need to be included in the arrangement.
“So we are pretty much trying to make sure that all the telecommunication providers in Barbados are in agreement with the MOU and there are other legal documents like the pairing agreement and by laws to govern how this not for profit organization will function. So we are making sure that engineering wise we are all good, and legal wise we are all good before we launch the Internet exchange point,” said Bostic.
He said with a locally based Internet exchange point there was a better chance of protecting residents and businesses from cybercrime.
He added that there was no need for residents to fear the move, as this should not limit what sites they privately visit or what they were able to put on the Internet.
Bostic suggested, however, that provisions should be made for some restrictions.
“The ITU, and Barbados generally, is interested in child online protection from some of the pitfalls of broadband services. So you have to restrict the sites that children can go to. You have to restrict what is coming to them as well to protect them, but I don’t think the Government will go as far in stopping citizens from viewing what they want to view. It is a matter of protecting our children,” he said.
“I believe the restrictions would extend to businesses so they can ensure that their employees are using the web for what they intend as opposed to for some of the other vices that exist on the web . . . but that is something that has to be debated and an agreement drawn up and so on,” he explained.