Belize’s internet providers make history

All Internet providers in Belize have come together to form a non-profit company called the Belize Internet Exchange Point (BIXP) in order to vastly improve internet based services in the country. BIXP was launched on Wednesday, April 16, making Belize the only country in the Caribbean in which all Internet providers are connecting at the same exchange point.

An Internet exchange point is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers and content delivery networks exchange Internet traffic between their networks. Before the BIXP switch was flipped, traffic from Belize had to go through international points. At the launch on Wednesday, Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist contracted by the Public Utilities Commission, did his best to explain the importance of a local internet exchange point to a group of laymen. “Imagine you want to get sugar across the fence to your neighbour,” said Wooding, “you had to take the sugar, put it on a plane to Miami and from Miami it would be shipped back to your neighbour.” One does not need to be genius to understand how inefficient that is. “With BIXP,” explained Wooding, “you can now take that sugar and hand it to your neighbour across the fence.”

The primary role of a local internet exchange point is to keep local traffic within local infrastructure. It provides more security for sensitive data. Traffic no longer has to access international points; therefore, there is less chance of information being intercepted by foreign entities. Quality of services will also be dramatically better. Wooding said, “It is a definite yes to faster internet.” Lower prices will depend on the service providers but the average per-bit delivery cost for them will definitely decrease.

BIXP is stationed at the University of Belize compound in West Landivar. Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, said, “In order for our country to be competitive in the region and the world we must be innovative with this technology.” Like Wooding, Faber is challenging Belizeans to be content producers instead of mere consumers. There is a huge market for local content, starting with the internet users in country and extending to foreigners interested in the Belizean way of life. Creating content means uploading videos, developing apps and websites, etc.

The BIXP taskforce was formed in September of 2013. Making history on Wednesday took hard work. Representatives of Government, PUC, UB and especially the internet service providers were key to the launch of a local exchange point. There were doubters. “People said the population is too small,” said Wooding, “and they said there was not enough traffic… but haters will hate.” Now that BIXP is a reality, the top content delivery network companies have expressed interest in setting up a local point. The possibilities are endless.

Shane D. Williams   

Show More
Back to top button