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Investments lead to regional African interconnection

o Rebecca Wanjiku
30.04.2011 kl 19:31 | Computerworld Kenya

A decline in bandwidth costs and investment by international companies has led to increased direct interconnection among Eastern and Southern African countries.


A decline in bandwidth costs and investment by international companies has led to increased direct interconnection among Eastern and Southern African countries.

Previously, most online content was directed through Internet exchange points (IXPs) in Europe but the trend is changing in favor of regional and local traffic exchange for African ISPs, mobile phone service providers and government agencies.

The Kenya Revenue Authority, for example, is connected to the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP). Government agencies are offering services online, which has led to more people accessing the Web.

Google, SEACOM, Cisco, Dimension Data, Internet Society and Internet Solutions are some of the companies driving the growth of interconnectivity in the region by channeling content locally and building Internet Points of Presence (PoPs).

SEACOM has made a significant investment since debuting its submarine fiber optic cable two years ago. Last year, the company announced that it was hosting KIXP in Mombasa, and two weeks ago it teamed up with Cisco and Dimension Data to launch an IP platform for content exchange content among nine African cities.

Cisco and Dimension Data were involved in the design and deployment of the IP network and the faster download and streaming speed is expected to raise demand for local services and content as companies push services beyond urban areas.

Entry of the SEACOM and the TEAMS fiber optic cables in Eastern Africa has led to affordable connectivity and growth in competition from mobile operators, who have now become large ISPs because of their extensive network coverage.

"Reduction in cost of bandwidth and competition has led traditional ISPs to explore ways to lower operational costs and offer efficiencies to consumers who are now more demanding than ever before," said Michuki Mwangi, CTO at KIXP.

KIXP has rapidly grown as a regional point of exchange for ISPs in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Mozambique.

Internet Solutions is one of the larger ISPs exchanging content at KIXP and is looking at gaming and cloud services to increase the amount of capacity it handles.

"Internet Solutions will host gaming servers that will allow local gamers to connect locally and to incentivize the uptake on this, IS will allow free access to these servers," said Collin Mamdoo, chief operations officer at Internet Solutions Kenya.

Even though regional and local data exchange is growing, a big part of the African content is still hosted abroad because of lower costs and the perception that hosting abroad is more reliable than hosting locally.

Internet Solutions is involved in a campaign to encourage businesses to explore local solutions such as hosted PABX (private automatic branch exchange) solutions, outsourced security and other applications provided under its cloud services portfolio.

The decision by Google to host cache servers with local ISPs is one big success for the regional service providers.

"We see a direct correlation between an increase in KIXP capacity to an increase in our service portfolio," added Mamdoo. "Kenyans are certainly waking up to the reality that high-end, robust cost-effective and reliable professional services are available locally, thus negating the need to access these services internationally."

Keywords: Telecommunication  Internet  
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