Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development

In South Asia an Online Training Course Equips Engineers for the Future

The Internet Society, in partnership with South Asia Network Operators Group (SANOG) recently concluded a five-week, hands-on training course for entry level network engineers and system administrators from South Asia. The online course Introduction to Network Operations, which took place from June 15 to July 19, prepared professionals to take advantage of the new opportunities created by the Internet. The training provided practical learning about UNIX/Linux, networking, and the Domain Name System (DNS) to over 40 participants from Research Education Networks (RENs), government institutions, network operators, universities, and private institutions. SANOG subject matter experts Thilina Pathirana from Sri Lanka and Gazi Zehadul Kabir from Bangladesh moderated via Moodle, an e-learning platform.

Skills and Knowledge for Digital Transformation

The course aimed to prepare young engineers for the future. The technical skills and hands-on knowledge enable them to build expertise to advance professionally in their chosen field of network and system administration. The course also served as a common platform for South Asia community members to actively interact, exchange knowledge, and learn from one another.

For participants, the course was a great learning experience. “It was the best online course I had yet,” said Afaq Ahmed from Pakistan. For young engineers Shreekar Tiwari from Nepal and Randhir Kanojia from India, the course provided practical experience and skills to lead digital transformation in the region.

Immediate Rewards

Deepthi Gunasekara, an engineer from Sri Lanka, excelled during the course. She was offered a job by the Lanka Education And Research Network (LEARN) in Sri Lanka. She is now an Assistant Engineer at LEARN, a National Research and Education Network (NREN) that not only interconnects educational and research institutions across the country, but provides network-related services.

“It was an excellent experience on learning and implementing DNS. Internet Society Network Operations course was very helpful for me, especially [as] it brought an opportunity to uplift my professional career [and earn] a new job,” said Deepthi.

Course moderator Gazi Zehadul Kabir, a member of the National Network Design Committee of Bangladesh, was thrilled to learn a freshly-mentored engineer got a job. He said the course enabled even greater interaction with course participants online. “The Internet Society brought a new era for us with this online course, where [we were] more closer to students,” said Gazi.

For more that 15 years he has been part of the South Asia technical community. He is happy to have this opportunity to pass on skills he curated over the years to young people. His wish is that the Internet Society should continue strengthening the capacity of the South Asia Internet community to take advantage of future opportunities.

Learn more about Introduction to Network Operations.


Image by Kimberly Farmer via Unsplash

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development

Partnering with Euro-IX on Infrastructure Development, Routing Security, and More

We can only be successful in creating an Internet for everyone if everyone is part of the effort. That’s why the Internet Society is thrilled to be entering into a partnership with the European Internet Exchange Association (Euro-IX).

The partnership was made official with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 14 July. This formal agreement builds on an existing collaboration between the two organizations, who have worked together since 2012. But, whether it’s helping to bring cheaper and faster Internet to the world through the data provided in the IXP Database or making the Internet more secure by supporting the Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS), our work has only just begun.

Kjetil Otter Olsen, the chair of Euro-IX said, “The Internet Society has been an excellent supporter of Internet exchange points (IXPs) for many years and has lent the support of its teams across the world to promoting the benefits of peering for Internet networks and the end users of those networks globally.

“Signing this MoU, on behalf of Euro-IX and the community of IXPs we represent, reflects our shared commitment with the Internet Society to continue this work into the future.

“This MoU extends our existing relationship to continue to promote key projects that will improve routing security via the MANRS program and automated and accurate data collection from IXPs via the IXP Database (IXPDB), as well as to share ideas, experiences and collaborate on new projects for the betterment of the Internet and IXPs.”

Sharing and collaboration are key to creating a robust and secure Internet, which is accessible to all.  

“One of the most amazing things about the Internet is the people behind it,” says Michuki Mwangi, Senior Director for Internet Technology and Development. “Our shared belief that it takes a community to build the Internet is why we will be able to reach our goal of bringing a fast, affordable and secure Internet to the world. I’m excited to see what this partnership will bring.”

We’re stronger together than we are apart. Let’s keep teaming up to create an Internet for everyone.

Internet Exchange Points are vital to bringing faster and more affordable Internet to people. Learn how you can support them!


Image by Max Böttinger via Unsplash

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development

IXPs: Keeping Local Infrastructure Resilient during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven how important a strong Internet infrastructure is.

Internet exchange points are a vital part of that. They are key to bringing better, faster, and more affordable Internet to people.

Recently, the Asia Pacific Internet Exchange Association (APIX) and the Internet Society did a comprehensive survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on IXP operations in the region.

IXPs from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, and Australia provided data. Here are some of the key findings.

What is an Internet Exchange Point?

If you want to see your neighbor, taking a route that sends you across town and back again is not the quickest or most efficient way to get there. And yet, in many parts of the world, that is what happens with Internet traffic. IXPs help create shorter, more direct routes for Internet traffic.

Read the Explainer

Changes in Internet Traffic

There was a significant increase in Internet exchange traffic, between 7- 40%. Traffic patterns during the pandemic show that there is either no difference left between peak and off-peak time or the peak time has increased from a few to more hours.

The increase is highest for various types of traffic including video conferencing, online gaming, Internet banking, online shopping, and video streaming platforms (Amazon, Netflix, YouTube).

Impact on IXP Operations

There was no downtime recorded for IX traffic operations, but due to lockdowns their physical technical support, maintenance, and work on upgrades did suffer. The technical teams continued the management and operations work from home. As lockdowns are opening their support work is gradually coming back to normal.

There were no changes in peering policies, but some of the emergency actions (policy/industry) included:

  • The national broadband network (wholesale L2 network provider) in Australia gave a 40% uplift on all traffic, for the same price.
  • YouTube degraded their video quality from HD to SD in Japan, which helped eyeball networks.

Sharing more, the IXPs said some of their members required urgent upgrades to 10 or 100 GE (Gigabit Ethernet) ports. While they described this time as a great period of cooperation among peering community, IXPs and operators should plan ahead and prepare.

Learn how IXPs in Asia-Pacific support the local Internet infrastructure during COVID-19. Watch the webinar with some of the leading IXPs in the region:


Internet Exchange Points are vital to bringing faster and more affordable Internet to people. Learn how you can support them!


Image by Brazil Topno via Unsplash

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

Eighty for Africa: Kenya and Nigeria’s IXP Success

Ten years ago the peering community came up with a vision: We wanted 80 percent of Internet traffic to be localized by 2020. I must admit, over the last decade there were times I wondered if it was possible.

But Kenya and Nigeria have just proven that it is – all thanks to the help of Internet exchange points (IXPs). A new report, Anchoring the African Internet Ecosystem: Lessons from Kenya and Nigeria’s Internet Exchange Points Growth is a case study on how they did it.

What Changed in Kenya and Nigeria

In just eight years a dedicated community helped Kenya and Nigeria to boost the levels of Internet traffic that is locally exchanged from 30% to 70%.

That happened because of a vibrant community of people united around a common cause: bringing faster, cheaper, and better Internet to their neighbours. They did this by focusing on their local Internet ecosystem that is dependent on the IXP.

Building an IXP takes humans and tech. We often say it takes 80% human engineering and 20% network engineering. It certainly is no easy task. Building a strong local Internet community facilitates this collaboration and results in neutral, even, and good local governance and understandings.

Why IXPs Matter

In Africa, too much of our Internet traffic has to travel too far. This results in higher costs and slower speeds, especially compared to Europe.

IXPs are like markets, malls, or international airport hubs. They attract and bring large and small traders or airlines closer to a location which results in better experiences and at a lower cost for those who are near such facilities.

According to the African IXP Association, there are 46 active IXPs across 34 African countries. South Africa has the most, with six IXPs, followed by four in Tanzania and three in Nigeria.

IXPs are a critical piece of technical infrastructure that help improve Internet access by keeping local Internet traffic localized and, because of that, faster and more affordable. IXPs are anchors for the Internet ecosystem and the key to unlocking the potential of the Internet in Africa. But to truly work and be effective long term, they need people:  Engineers, service providers, content developers, and supportive government officials, who share the belief that a strong, collaborative community can leverage the Internet ecosystem on the local IXPs.

See the Difference They Made in Kenya and Nigeria

We started to follow the story of IXPs in Kenya and Nigeria eight years ago.  It can be found in this 2012 report.

In addition to the ratio of localized traffic flipping from 30% local/70% international in 2012 to 70% local/30% international today, there were also cost savings. In Kenya, KIXP grew from carrying peak traffic of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) in 2012 to 19 Gbps in 2020, with cost savings quadrupling to USD six million per year. In Nigeria, IXPN grew from carrying just 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) to peak traffic of 125 Gbps in 2020, and the cost savings increased forty times to USD 40 million per year.

(You can see more differences here.)

Eighty For Africa

While the rapid pace of Internet ecosystem development in both Kenya and Nigeria since 2012 underscores the important role played by IXPs, this could not have been possible without stakeholder relationship building, infrastructure development, fostering community mobilization, collaboration, trust, and capacity building.

In my time in working as part of the Internet community, I always find myself humbled by the incredible people who are making a difference where they live.

Eighty for Africa is possible. And we can get there, together.

Read Anchoring the African Internet Ecosystem: Lessons from Kenya and Nigeria’s Internet Exchange Points Growth

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development

In a Time of Crisis, A Global Lockdown Needs a Digital Unlocking

We welcome this guest post from DE-CIX Group, an Organization Member of the Internet Society.

We are at a very special moment in history right now. Never before in modern times have we seen such a global impact and a global response to a crisis which largely ignores geopolitical borders. The COVID-19 outbreak and its repercussions have put cities, countries, entire regions on hold.

One saving grace of this crisis is that the global digital infrastructure – the terrestrial and mobile networks, the data centers, the undersea cables, and the satellite connections that support the global Internet – is by now well enough developed for people in many countries to stay in constant contact despite isolation.

This means that, today, lockdown does not necessarily need to mean shut down.

Digital applications are key to enduring the crisis

Digital communication is vital to this. It enables companies to send their workforce home to work. It enables people to stay in contact with loved ones they can’t meet with. It enables children and students of all ages to continue with their education. Even the researchers who we all pin our hopes on finding a vaccine are using digital applications to remain in contact and share data in their efforts to understand the virus.

So digital applications that enable communication and collaboration are key to enduring the current crisis. But even the best application cannot perform if the underlying digital infrastructure is not as solid, resilient, and secure as possible.

Digitalization – and therefore reliable digital infrastructure – is the only answer

Therefore, one answer to some of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic – and the modern world in general – is sophisticated digital infrastructure, because this allows the use of smart digital applications and solutions which will make people’s lives better.

As a result, the interconnection community – more than ever before – must deliver continuous and high-performance connectivity: everywhere, for everybody, and for everything. This community, and the infrastructure that they build and care for, is just as critical as other critical services in a crisis. It is essential that this digital infrastructure is as global, open (neutral), resilient, scalable, and secure as possible, in order to deliver the many and varied services needed by people, institutions, and businesses.

As an element of this crucial digital infrastructure, Internet Exchange Points like DE-CIX are key to improving the quality of performance of digital applications and digital communication – for businesses, for medical facilities, for education, recreation/entertainment, and for news and media outlets – for all users, wherever they are.

Digital communication on the rise

As a global operator, DE-CIX’s Internet Exchanges on four continents are all recording the same trend: Internet traffic is growing, together with demand for quality. While different regions are at different stages of development, depending on when the COVID-19 infections began to take off in their locality, the trend is valid from North America to Europe, to the Middle East, and on to the Indian sub-continent.

Three types of Internet traffic in particular have risen substantially: traffic from collaborative communication tools has doubled since the crisis began, as has traffic from streaming services. This is significant of both enterprises and the education sector migrating their activities online. Added to this, we see around a 50% increase in traffic from online gaming. Everywhere, we see a similar demand for reliable digital infrastructure.

Communication behavior will significantly change in the long term

Many business decision-makers are beginning to recognize the long-term benefits of profound digital transformation. Companies are taking a long, hard look at how they manage their offices, how staff interact, how teams collaborate, what business travel is actually essential, and whether meetings can be reconceived to be more productive. They are becoming aware of how the move online can unlock the potential to save money and increase revenue.

Meaningful investment decisions should be made in the future

We have to learn out of this so we can make meaningful investment decisions in the future. Digital infrastructure is the enabler of this long-term transformation, and it helps to ease the pain of today’s lockdown. The Corona crisis throws into stark relief the regions that have solid, reliable digital infrastructure, and those regions of the globe that remain underserved. The digital divide must be eliminated so that all communities can in future have access to information, access to digital communication tools, and access to digital content. The Internet industry must take as their mandate the goal of a minimum level of digital infrastructure everywhere.

Nothing will be the same after COVID-19. The current global crisis will change our life going forward, and to survive in the present and prepare for the post-Corona future, this global lockdown needs a full digital unlocking.

Resilient infrastructure depends on a resilient community. Learn about IXPs and how you can make a difference.


Image by Flo Karr via Unsplash

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

Central African Peering Forum: A Defining Moment for Peering and Interconnection

The first-ever Central African Peering Forum comes at a defining moment for Internet peering and interconnection. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have implemented measures to restrict people from moving from their homes, while only allowing essential movements and services.

But life cannot stop.

Kids still need to study and attend school. People still need to access financial services, conduct personal and business transactions, access government services, pay their taxes, and access health services. Most importantly, people need to access accurate and timely information. But now these services must be provided at a larger scale – via reliable Internet infrastructure. Moreover, some of this content and these services do not exist in digital format. They need to be created, sometimes in the language of local communities.

COVID-19 has uncovered gaps, missing elements, and key challenges, which need to be addressed so that life can smoothly transition to the new normal. Failing to address these challenges may result in severe socioeconomic consequences.

We are now a few months down the path since lockdown measures have been implemented in most countries. It is time to reflect on the lessons learnt so far, with respect to the reliability of the Internet infrastructure, local content infrastructure development, last mile infrastructure, and on possible policy interventions that could help address the gaps. Are we building resilient Internet infrastructure that can sustain and even thrive in crisis times?

This question has inspired the first Central African Peering Forum. The forum is dedicated to helping people connect to faster and more reliable Internet though peering.

Peering is the voluntary interconnection of two Internet networks for the purpose of exchanging Internet traffic, without going through an intermediary network. Peering takes place at Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). It helps keep domestic Internet traffic local by offloading traffic from expensive international links onto affordable local links. As a result, Internet Service Providers can offer a better experience and save costs.

The Central African Peering Forum will take place on 27 May.

If you’re dedicated to building the Internet in Africa we would love for you to attend so we can focus on solutions together. Whether you’re a business owner, technology expert, or user, your views count.

Beyond the “traditional” peers like Internet Service Providers, there are other network operators that can take advantage of Internet peering. This includes content service providers like newspapers and entertainment, content delivery networks (CDNs), financial service providers like banks, government e-service platforms, etc. We believe this virtual event will greatly benefit all of the participants, both through the quality of the presentations and the discussions that will take place.

We can’t wait to see you join us online!

Regional Solutions from Local Challenges

It’s our hope the Central African Peering Forum will shed light on the particular challenges the central African region is facing during these challenging times – and develop real solutions. Some of these challenges are common across the region, and perhaps globally. In many cases, a solution exists and could be applied with little adaptation to the local context.

Let’s look at one example: Education

How can local infrastructure (local content and hosting infrastructure development and last mile access infrastructure ) be developed to take care of local needs?

What is the link between the educational/academic content and the homes where the kids are staying? Moreover, what kind of equipment do students use to access that content? Are the current Internet bundles (volume-based packages) suitable and affordable for such needs?

On the other side, having the adequate infrastructure in place is not enough: tutors (i.e., parents and caregivers) need to be educated, sensitized, and trained on how to educate kids in this new environment.

Using our shared experience, we hope to draw up recommendations and try to address those problems with policymakers, regulatory authorities, who are in charge of consumer protection, and local players, such as Internet service providers, data center operators, and content and hosting providers across the region.

Your Perspective Counts

Wherever you are in the Central Africa region, please register and give us your perspective, ideas, and recommendations! It’s important to have different local perspectives at the forum to develop solutions that last.

Discussions will revolve around Internet infrastructure, Internet Exchange Points (IXP), last mile access infrastructure, local content and hosting infrastructure (data centers), regulations, and policies.

This forum welcomes everyone: consumers, end-users, and direct and indirect players in the Internet ecosystem. Together we can come up with strong recommendations for our region. Recommendations that make a real difference.

Join Us!


Image from 2019 African Peering and Interconnection Forum ©Nyani Quarmyne/Internet Society.

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

Are We Ready to Work from Home in the Middle East?

Even before COVID-19, political and economic scenes within the MENA region were changing. Differences across economies, politics, religion, and even the weather kept governments occupied.

Amid all that, the region has been shaken by COVID-19 as nations have moved operations into the home.

Looking at this from a technology perspective, we must ask ourselves: Are we ready for this? Are we able to transfer all our businesses and schools to our homes? Do we have an adequate Internet-based economy and good quality connectivity to back up the huge demand?

There’s no question that the Internet provides significant economic and social benefits. COVID-19 has made that especially clear. For many parts of the world, it has allowed us to carry on. But for the first time, governments have had to face the reality that there is no time for pilot projects. This is happening and it is happening now.

COVID-19 has opened the world’s eyes to how critical the Internet is for the economy. How can the Middle East build on what COVID-19 has taught us about the Internet and connectivity? The Internet Society has released two papers that can help develop the answers: “Middle East & North Africa Internet Infrastructure Report” and “Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for the Arab States.”

The papers focus on infrastructure efforts needed to develop a digital economy. They were developed through engagement-based workshops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman as well as discussions and input from stakeholders throughout the region. Through the lens of this community engagement, the papers look at solutions to building a bigger and stronger Internet.

The papers highlight three core things governments can help put in place:

  • Access Infrastructure: The entire value chain of infrastructure that carries traffic to and from international points, should deliver the traffic throughout the country, and connect users to the Internet. Through a network of networks, national Internet infrastructure will be better and stronger, and provide resiliency and redundancy.
  • Content Infrastructure: Internet exchange points (IXPs), where traffic can be exchanged on a local basis, and data centers, where content and applications can be hosted, should be developed to increase local resiliency and redundancy. Using local content infrastructure lowers the time and cost needed to deliver traffic, allows easier access to content, and improves quality of service, which in turn helps to promote Internet adoption and usage.
  • Digital Economy: The ecosystem to create content and services to fully utilize the access and content infrastructure drives socioeconomic development. A digital economy enables entrepreneurs to innovate while also providing consumers with the ability to use their new services, and helps bring existing sectors online to transform the entire economy.

We ask you to share these papers widely, especially with your local government. COVID-19 helped us realize how critical it is to bring all of the Middle East online. By working together, we can make a difference.

Read “Middle East & North Africa Internet Infrastructure Report” and “Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for the Arab States.”


Image of Cairo by Omar Elsharawy via Unsplash.

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

Why Is So Much Internet Traffic Leaving Pakistan?

This article appeared first on the APNIC website.

At the recent SANOG meeting held in my homeland, Pakistan, I wanted to provide the local community with some insights into the importance of Internet exchanges (IXs), specifically the need to host content locally.

Knowing that data is king among network operators, I set up a virtual machine as soon as I arrived to collect information on several key metrics, including latency and the hosting location of .pk domains. Needless to say, the results were surprising.

How long does it take to connect to public Domain Name System (DNS) services?

First, I tested for latency, specifically the time it takes to PING three of the most popular public DNS services: Cloudflare DNS (1.1.1.1), Google Public DNS (8.8.8.8), and Quad9 (9.9.9.9). PING is not the best way to test DNS but this is for reachability purpose only.

Before leaving my home in Sydney, Australia, I did the same to offer a comparison. As you can see from the results in Figure 1, all were below 1ms.

Figure 1: Latency measurements to connect to public DNS services in Sydney, Australia

The results for Pakistan were less consistent.

Cloudflare was the best of the bunch with an average of 3ms, thanks largely to the three data centres they opened in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad in late 2018.

Google was second and even though it has several caches hosted in Pakistan, its latency hovered around 25ms.

Quad9, which has no local points-of-presence, came in at a very slow 203ms.

What this experiment shows is the importance of hosting services locally. We could expect to see a further reduction in latency if such services were also hosted at a local IX, as it would reduce the number of hops for those that peer with it to one – the benefits of which would be reduced transit costs, with the savings being handed down to customers.

Currently, Pakistan has one IX, PKIX, which has two exchange points – one in Islamabad and one in Karachi – with 17 members peering with it.

Where are “local” websites hosted?

As we’ve seen so far, the best way to reduce latency for DNS services is to make them local, so packets don’t have to travel extreme distances. The same can be said for web content too, whereby websites hosted locally should, in theory, be faster to connect to than those hosted internationally.

So, for my second experiment, I looked at where websites with .pk country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) were being hosted.

The time of my test was short so I could only get public data, which was around 15,000 .pk domains. However, like the latency test, it provided a very clear picture of the current situation.

Of the 14,927 .pk domains, only 1,541 are being hosted by Internet service providers (ISPs) or entities registered in Pakistan, and another 1,304 are being hosted by Cloudflare. That’s less than 20% of sites that, you would think, would be targeting local users. Instead, more than 80% of “local content” is being hosted in servers outside of Pakistan, and, as such, is subject to international transit costs and increased latency.

Figure 2: DNS records for .pk domains

Digging deeper, I also looked it up for gov.pk, who you would think are targeting the people in Pakistan, right? Out of 431 gov.pk domains I found in the 15,000 domain addresses, only 72 are registered or advertised by Pakistani entities, 28 are with Cloudflare, and the remaining 331 are outside of Pakistan.

Figure 3: DNS records for gov.pk domains

Needless to say, I was quite surprised that so many local council websites are hosted outside of Pakistan, most likely because they were cheap.

Finally, I looked at edu.pk. For a university to host something outside of Pakistan and not within the university is blasphemy for me. Unfortunately, this is the case for the majority of edu.pk sites with fewer than 20% hosted locally.

Figure 4: DNS records for edu.pk domains

How many websites have Quad A records?

The IPv6 Task Force was established in Pakistan around 2006/07 during which time it built a test network between several ISPs. Unfortunately, IPv6 never caught the limelight beyond testing and enabling in core networks, and capability remains less than 1%.

I was hoping that because many websites are hosted outside Pakistan, that content might have been accessible via IPv6. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case either, with the exception of Cloudflare.

Figure 5: AAAA records for .pk domains

One thing that’s not clear from Figure 5 is that of the 1,304 websites hosted by Cloudflare, why were only 1,087 responding to AAAA requests? Have some turned off IPv6? If so, why? I plan on digging deeper into this using the virtual machine generously provided by Rapid Compute (a cloud services provider in Pakistan).

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that all of the above would be a lot worse if it weren’t for Cloudflare setting up its Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) in Pakistan in 2018. However, if more CDNs are set up in Pakistan, there needs to be more local content available for them to host. This surely cannot be too difficult for an economy with more than 200 million people.

Internet Exchange Points are vital to bringing faster and more affordable Internet to people. Learn how you can support them!

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

AfPIF Day Two: International Traffic, the Economics of Peering, and a Look Ahead to 2030

In the last five years, Africa’s international traffic patterns have changed, with international and  intra regional traffic growing, according to the latest statistics from Telegeography, presented at this year’s AfPIF.

Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, and Nairobi maintain their top hub status, but Cotonou, Kigali, Libreville, Abidjan, and Dakar have emerged as major hubs as international traffic grows. Cotonou recorded 88Gps between 2018 and 2019, showing a 77% growth, while Kigali recorded 75Gbps, a 92% growth, and Libreville had 113Gbps at 71% growth.

This was attributed to a drastic reduction in connectivity costs, which led to more data center space and eventual demand for more capacity to other international hubs. West African connection, especially between Dakar, Abidjan, Accra, and Lagos has also increased.

Telegeography monitors international transit traffic and the presentation was one of the highlights of the day. Domestic traffic is a bit harder to capture but Telegeography promised to work with more providers to get future snapshots of the growing traffic.

The presentation by Telegeography explored the shifting connectivity landscape in Africa and its effect on interconnection hubs, showing that new hubs may soon emerge, as more and more cities reduce the cost of connectivity and invest in more infrastructure.

The data emerging shows that Europe is still a preferred transit route and Intra-Africa route capacity has increased between East and West while South to North connectivity is increasing, probably because of the Cape to Cairo infrastructure projects.

The data also shows that new hubs will be driven by new submarine cable routes, carrier neutral data centers IXs, a friendly regulatory environment that is geared towards business growth, business competition and low prices for local connectivity, and a rich ecosystem with content and growing corporations.

AfPIF also included a presentation exploring Africa by 2030 and what we need to be prepared for. It was clear that intra-regional connectivity was key, as prices continue falling, and expected to be on par with other parts of the world by then. There were other expectations for 2030, including:

  • The customer will have more control over the routing of traffic and the applications, while networks will be expected to be more agile, to provide for the evolving customer needs, and running flexible networks.
  • International organizations will invest more in Africa, given that now there are a billion unconnected in the region and it is slowly becoming an important market for international tech companies.

For each of the past ten years at AfPIF, there has been a presentation on the economics of peering – a way to deepen the conversation on why networks should peer and introduce any newcomers to the economics of IXPs. This year, the conversation was led by Susan Forney from Hurricane Electric.

In her presentation, she projected that Africa’s IXP growth will follow the international trajectory, with falling connectivity costs leading to an increase in content and the eventual need for exchanging content locally and strategically.

For any community considering whether to set up an IXP, it is important to consider the port costs, equipment support costs, costs of cross connect, data center costs, and any third party costs that may be incurred.

These costs can be weighed with the benefits of an IXP, such as reaching content networks or cloud providers like Microsoft, AWS, Google, Akamai, Limelight, Fastly, Facebook, and Netflix among others.

To understand where to peer, it is important to get statistics about the highest traffic sources and destinations on the network, allowing the easier upgrade of capacity.

Stay tuned for the Day Three Summary, with more discussions on content and security!

Photo: AfPIF 2018

Categories
Growing the Internet Infrastructure and Community Development Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)

AfPIF-10 Kicks Off in Balaclava, Mauritius

The tenth meeting of Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) kicked off in Balaclava, Mauritius, with participants celebrating the achievements and looking forward to further collaboration.

Andrew Sullivan, the President and CEO of the Internet Society, opened by highlighting the importance of the meeting, which helps create a community that supports the growth of the Internet in Africa, identifies challenges, and ensures that understanding spreads.

In his speech, he noted that traffic exchanged inside Africa has expanded enormously as a result of the work done by AfPIF over the years. One of AfPIF goals is to increase the level of local content exchanged locally to 80% by 2020.

Sullivan, who has extensive experience working with international Internet bodies, emphasized the need for a robust community in Africa, led by Af-IX, that will continue working together to ensure that the Internet is built in Africa, according to the needs of Africans and the African network experience.

The annual meeting, brings together chief technology officers, peering coordinators and business development managers from the African region, Internet service providers and operators, telecommunications policymakers and regulators, content providers, Internet exchange point (IXP) operators, infrastructure providers, data center managers, National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), carriers and transit providers, and international financial organizations. The forum is planned as a non-profit event and international sponsorship and support have been sought to convene the event.

The first meeting was held in Kenya in 2010 when the region was tackling different kinds of challenges: connectivity was mainly via satellite, there were only a few submarine cables, the benefits of interconnectivity were not well known within the local tech communities, and the cost of bandwidth was between $ 3,000 and $5,000 per Mbps.

Between 2010 and 2014, the meeting highlights included “The Peering Game,” where participants were led by Dr. Peering (Bill Norton) in understanding how peering works, the economics of it, and the benefit to end users. This game helped share knowledge and understanding, which set the stage for peering personals and bilaterals that are the current highlight of AfPIF.

Over the past decade, the Internet Society and its partners has offered equipment donations and technical training and community mobilization in at least 28 African countries.

One of the highlights is a partnership between the African Union (AU) and the Internet Society on the AXIS Project between 2012 and 2018 where over 1500 people in 28 countries were trained. The project also supported the creation of several new IXPs, support of 8 IXPs into becoming regional IXPs increased awareness on value of IXPs and policy work on importance of cross border interconnection. One notable outcome of the capacity building work, has been the development of regional subject matter experts and trainers who speak French and Portuguese which was a challenge before.

Going forward, it is clear that the work has just begun and the next decade will equally be critical. The goal is to get service providers from all African countries to participate in AfPIF, sustained learning and information sharing is need, increased collaboration between data center operators and the tech community and increased research and measurements in the region.

As the host of the 10th meeting, Mauritius took the chance to showcase how it is leading in efforts to interconnect the Indian Ocean Islands, as well as grow its reputation as an attractive locale for technology companies seeking to invest in Africa.

Mauritius, Reunion, Mayotte, Comoros and Madagascar make up the Indian Ocean Islands with a combined population of 28.3 million. These islands are connected by Safe and Lion submarine cables but there are efforts in the pipeline to set up a third cable connecting all the islands with South Africa.

The Day Two Summary will cover more about the economics of peering and the infrastructure issues in the region!