‘When it comes to bringing about high-speed internet in Curaçao, we provide an important added value’. It sounds so simple, but what Nico Scheper, director of AMS-IX Caribbean, has pulled off is a real tour de force, even though he remains very modest about it himself. ‘Our task is nothing more than to facilitate digital infrastructure on the island, making internet accessible, reliable and easy to use.’
Thanks to the arrival of the Internet Exchange in the Caribbean in 2008, developments in the digital economy have been rapid. Over the past few years, the volume of internet traffic has doubled and a new type of service has emerged.
‘Until a few years ago, we had to stand in line to submit our tax returns,’ says Scheper, ‘but now we can do that online. The same applies to internet banking, taking out an insurance policy, reading a newspaper, watching Netflix, or simply viewing a restaurant menu.’ New digital services are reinforcing mainstream services, creating new economic opportunities for local residents. As a result, Internet usage is increasing rapidly. The more digital the economy, the more demand there is for fast and accessible Internet. Partly because of this boom, Internet in Curaçao has become the third mainport, alongside the international airport and transhipment port. The so-called Digital Port. Due to the unique facilities of the Internet Exchange, it has succeeded in attracting international businesses such as Google, Facebook and Netflix.
In 2004, a group of visionaries decided to investigate whether it was possible to use Curaçao as a hub for Internet traffic between South America, Europe and the United States. This seemed like a logical step, given that the region already fulfilled this function in the air and on water through its major international air and sea ports. Nico Scheper was involved in this innovative project from the outset. The AMS-IX (Amsterdam Internet Exchange) soon came on board, not least because of their expertise in deploying internet exchanges in Amsterdam and Hong Kong. ‘We use the same high-quality international technology, and are as Internet Exchange part of the digital ecosystem.’
The number of internet connections on the island has risen sharply and will keep on doing so. And this growth is set to continue. Because the Caribbean internet market is a relatively small one, Scheper is looking for partners beyond Curaçao. ‘It would be great if we could also serve Latin America, so this is a market we are currently focusing on.’ In the meantime, Scheper is keeping a close eye on his core business and AMS-IX Caribbean is helping to ensure that there is a reliable and open internet in Curaçao 24/7.
- Extract from the "Technology & Innovation" edition of the Visions on Curaçao publication.
Read the full publication here.