With broadband service slow and unavailable in much of the country, Belize is gearing up to build its first Internet exchange point (IXP) in a bid to persuade more people to sign up for superior service.
According to the Trinidad Guardian, major telecom operators have reached an understanding to participate in the construction of the IXP, which eases the movement of data on the network and will thus reduce the average per-bit delivery cost of the service.
An Internet exchange point is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) exchange traffic between their networks.
IXPs avoid the need for data to travel to other countries to get from one network to another, thus reducing latency. Today, many ISPs in the region need to pass the data through networks in the United States before rerouting to their consumers in island nations.
The companies that signed the deal include Alliance IP, Belize Telemedia, BroadBand Belize, Centaur Communications Corporation, Network Solutions and Speednet.
The World Bank has already lent a huge sum of money to fund IXPs across the region, with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union(CTU) teaming up with U.S.-based consultancy firm Packet Clearing House (PCH) to advise regional governments on bolstering the telecom infrastructure.
Over the past two years, dozens of IXPs have surfaced in several Caribbean countries including Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic.
Analysts say the proliferation of IXPs could speed up the delivery of Internet-based services such as video conferencing, voice of IP, data backup and online gaming.
Although Belize is a relatively wealthy country, its telecoms service is poor by regional standards. According to telecom research firm Buddecomm, there is little or no demand for fixed-line service, with the majority of the population subscribing to mobile service. The mobile sector account for about 90% of all phone subscriptions in the country.