This component will support priority connectivity gaps in St. Vincent through several activities as detailed below:
a) Broadband Backbone Network - This activity will focus on the development of a high speed broadband backbone network to connect major populated areas to existing regional broadband networks, as well as increase cross-border connectivity with neighboring Grenada. The broadband backbone network would provide affordable regional connectivity to the entire population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It would also extend to the Argyle international airport and strategic seaport locations on the island and would be further leveraged as the primary backbone for a National Research and Education Network which would be linked to the Caribbean Regional Research and Education Network (C@ribNET), which is coordinated and managed by CKLN. Financing of the connectivity infrastructure would be based on a competitive “least-cost” subsidy under a public-private partnership model, and payments would be triggered by demonstrated delivery of pre-defined “outputs”. The Project will support: (i) financial, legal and regulatory services to design and implement the "PPP" subsidy mechanism, including the tender documentation and tender process; (ii) consultant services for environmental screening; and (iii) the services of an independent verification agent to certify that winning bidders have fulfilled the “outputs” of their service agreements. The principles underlying this component include: (a) private-sector led supply of the infrastructure, supported by least-cost public subsidy, and (b) infrastructure shall be provided on non-discriminatory, open access and competitively neutral basis.
b) Government Network -The network is expected to provide a unique opportunity for key government agencies (including seaports, the new airport, Community College, Teachers and Technical Colleges, security/emergency response agencies) to connect directly to each other through a Government Wide Area Network (GWAN). The Government will also install and commission a new Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange (IP PBX) system in all its Ministries and Departments. This IP PBX will require some minimal upgrade of the current network infrastructure and software to improve government communications. It is expected that private networks developed at the national level will connect to each other to create a regional network that will improve communication between government agencies in the region. This is critical for the small and vulnerable islands in the region and in line with the regional integration agenda.
c) Internet Exchange Point (IXP) – The project will support the installation of a national IXP in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to facilitate regional and local interconnection of Internet traffic. This will allow information to be channeled in a more efficient way by ensuring that traffic stays local without the need to transit third party countries before coming back, and thereby avoiding payment of high international bandwidth costs. This could result in improved access speeds and reduced latency as well as reduced costs to the consumer. Support includes equipment as well as structuring of ownership and management of IXP. It is expected that the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ IXP will eventually be part of a fully integrated Caribbean Regional IXP which will ensure that traffic in the region remains regional, thus further reducing the cost of connectivity and increasing the quality of service.
d) Enabling Environment - This activity is design to strengthen the legal and regulatory environment to harmonize the same at the regional level, and to provide effective regulation for the benefit of end-users, including infrastructure sharing and open and non-discriminatory access to the Internet Exchange Point (IXP) and network infrastructure.