The Internet Society has urged internet service providers in Africa to enter into peering and interconnection agreements to improve the quality of services and costs.
By: Thabiso Mochiko
Peering among regional and local internet service providers and network providers will also improve the distribution of content across geographic areas.
Peering is when organisations exchange internet data between their networks. By peering with each other, regional internet service providers and local companies cut out some local data travel nationally or internationally before it reaches the end user. This leads to a more robust, efficient and higher-capacity internet.
The Internet Society and the African Peering and Interconnection Forum will today hold their annual conference in Sandton, Johannesburg. It aims to address the interconnection challenges and numerous opportunities which regional and local peering can offer local companies.
The African Peering and Interconnection Forum aims to foster national and cross-border interconnection opportunities by providing a platform where key players from infrastructure and service providers, internet exchange infrastructure providers, regulators and policy makers can share information and experiences.
Karen Rose, senior director strategic development and business planning for The Internet Society, said yesterday the conference would give African service and network providers a better understanding of how interconnection and peering were being structured and conducted internationally.
“We aim to bring together not only African experts and industry but also international networks operators to share information,” she said.
Dawit Bekele, a representative of The Internet Society, said the conference would try to help African operators to resolve the problem of having to exchange internet traffic outside the continent, by encouraging various network providers to interconnect among themselves. This will reduce latency, which refers to the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to another.
Africa has 26 internet exchanges. But Ms Rose said the increase in internet traffic would drive the growth in internet exchange infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the Internet Service Providers Association of SA has appointed Nishal Goburdhan as its internet exchange manager. He will oversee the operation of its internet exchanges, and ensure that they grow to meet the needs of their users.
Graham Beneke, co-chair of the association’s internet exchange working group, said since 2009, increased competition in the internet industry, coupled with the opening up of the association’s exchanges to more participants, “has led to exponential growth in both traffic and interest in (its) internet exchanges”.
The association operates two of the busiest internet exchange points on the continent: the Johannesburg Internet Exchange and the Cape Town Internet Exchange.
They function as a location for South African internet companies to exchange network traffic in the “most cost-effective and technically efficient way”.
Both exchanges have seen very rapid growth in the past three years, and the launch of a Durban exchange is imminent.