(AUDIO AVAILABLE)The Telem Group made an important announcement on the launching of a new service aimed at St.Maarten & the Caribbean at the Smitcoms Building on Friday 10th July 2009.
During the launching ceremony Commissioner of Telecommunications & Leader of Government Mr.William Marlin officially welcomed the Management & Personnel of Telem Group, while Deputy Lt. Governor Mrs.Millicent De Weever was called to perform a symbollic launching.
St. Maarten has taken a major step in providing direct internet access for the Caribbean region with the pioneering launch of the region’s first internet exchange.
The exchange was officially launched at the Smitcoms Building, Harbour View, Friday, July 10th with the touch of a button by Deputy Lt. Governor Millicent Deweever and at the end of a two day workshop to demonstrate the benefits of the internet exchange to telecommunication companies on the island.
The launch was witnessed by Commissioner responsible for telecommunications, William Marlin, along with Commissioner Theo Heyliger.
Also present as a presenter, workshop participant and guest speaker was Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU) Ms. Bernadette Lewis.
According to Ms Lewis, the initiative taken by the TelEm Group and Smitcoms N.V. to make the exchange available to telecommunications companies on St. Maarten and the wider Caribbean is a major step in recognizing the importance of direct internet links for the region.
She said the service will allow Internet Service Providers to route their traffic via a special root server located in the region. This will mean cheaper upload costs for the ISPs and in some cases no cost at all.
TelEm Group’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa said the two day workshop, which began Thursday and ended Friday was very successful and was technically at a very high level.
He thanked a number of presenters and participants who traveled from overseas to talk about the new project and also to take part in the launching ceremony, in particular, Mr. Roque Gagliano of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), for assisting with the installation of the new root server.
"St. Maarten is now officially an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) which translates into direct network access for users and internet service providers on the island and in other islands in the region," continued Mr. Louisa.
He said due to the limited space available at the workshop, a viewing room was provided in the Smitcoms Building so that company technicians could follow online via special online streaming arrangements. Other technicians in the TelEm Group were also able to follow from their own desktops at other locations, also by streaming online.
The LACNIC official said the local exchange on St. Maarten represents the first DSN Root Server in the Caribbean (Seventh for the Latin American and the Caribbean Region) giving the island its own Internet Exchange Point (IXP)
He said further that the new server will provide direct access to the internet by Caribbean users and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
The companies and organizations giving presentations over the two days are: ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers); ISC (Internet Systems Consortium); LACNIC (Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry), PCH (Packet Clearing House) and the CTU Secretary General Ms. Bernadette Lewis.
Among the various companies represented as participants are: Dauphin Telecom, E-Computech, Microdevice, UTS/Caribserve, Tieline, Eutel N.V., Scarlet, Caribbean Cable Communications, East Caribbean Cellular (ECC), RBTT Bank and St. Maarten Cable TV.
Commissioner Marlin congratulated all those involved in the new initiative and commended Smitcoms for setting the island on the road to becoming an internet hub.
Responding to his first public welcome as commissioner of telecommunications for the TelEm Group Mr. Marlin assured that his attention will given to several issues once he has sorted through a very busy workload.
He said one of his early tasks upon taking office was to request a comprehensive report on developments within the company and preceding a meeting with the CEO Pieter Drenth and quite recently, a meeting with the Supervisory Board of Directors of the TelEm Group.
Commissioner Marlin said he is well aware of the public discussions about partnering or sale of the company, and he has assured that these issues will be addressed by him before long.
Meantime Commissioner Marlin wished the company much success in the future and continues to impress on management and staff the importance of telecommunications to the island.