The Guardian
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Nigeria to become W’Africa’s Internet transmission hub


Internet-IPv6Telcos, ISPs save $1m monthly through IXPN

Indications emerged yesterday that Nigeria could well become West Africa’s Internet transmission hub.

This is because the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), the country’s Internet gateway, has achieved a major milestone by its elevation to the status of the West African regional Internet Exchange Point.

Confirming this development to The Guardian, yesterday, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of IXPN, Muhammed Rudman, disclosed that the huge stride was made by successfully vying in the Africa Union Commission (AUC)’s African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project for a Regional Internet Exchange Point (RIXP) for West Africa.

Already, Rudman, who is very optimistic about the huge revenue generation that would accrue to Nigeria immediately other service providers in the region are connected to the country’s exchange point, disclosed that currently the IXP saves Nigerian telecom operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) about $1 million monthly because they now route traffic locally instead of hosting them abroad.

The country currently has three IXPs, situated in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. The Guardian learnt that while there are plans by the Federal Government to commission two new ones in Kano and Enugu soon, the established ones cost as much as N35 million each.

A reliable source in the industry told The Guardian that prior to now, some ISPs in the country still depended on Internet hubs located outside the country, in places like the United States (U.S), Israel and some parts of Europe.

According to him, this meant that Internet traffic from Nigeria went directly to the foreign hubs thereby causing serious capital flight in the form of transit charges paid to foreign ISPs by some of their Nigerian counterparts.

But according to Rudman, that has changed as more operators including Google, now route traffic locally in Nigeria.

He explained that before now, ISPs paid as much as $4000 per megabyte to foreign hubs to route Internet traffic, “but because they have now found the IXPN more reliable and dependable, they route traffic within and pay an average of $100 per megabyte.

This has equally come because of the new telecoms infrastructure in the country, including the submarine cable systems and data centres that are now domiciled in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, until the recent development, the IXPN, a core network infrastructure provider company that allows several ISPs, telecommunications companies, carriers, and content providers, to exchange traffic among their networks locally, was primarily focused on localising Internet traffic in Nigeria by interconnecting Nigerian networks.

Giving more insight into its new status, Rudman said that IXPN had moved from national to a regional level. He stressed that its infrastructure would be upgraded, in consonance with its new rules to ensure a more resilient operation in the function of connecting all other Internet Exchange Points in the region and to accentuate its capacity to handle the traffic coming thereby.

Rudman said: “The fact that the regional IXP for West Africa is domiciled in Nigeria should leap-frog the nation to the information hub in the West African sub-region. It will, invariably, boost patronage of complementary and ancillary services in Nigeria from telecom companies, content providers and other IP-centric organisations in the region.

“Becoming the regional IXP holds great prospects for the Nigeria economy. Typically, if the big telecommunications operators and ISPs across the region connect to us, it will make the country the main hub for information communication exchange within the region, which would eventually attract regional and global content providers into the country, and thus translating to more patronage for our data centers.”

According to him, if Nigeria becomes the hub in the region, its multiplier effect will mean submarine cables systems in the country will sell more capacity the data centre in the country will have more patronage from the West Africa region, as major ICT companies within the region will begin to host their information in Nigeria locally, with more interconnection of the service provider.

The CEO stressed that regional IXP would attract banks, universities and research institutions in West Africa to host their information in Nigeria because of the shorter physical distance between these countries to Nigeria compared to Europe and the United States where they currently host their data.

He did not fail to declare his optimism about the attraction it would hold for many global content providers such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for whom the task of integrating their network would be made much easier because they would prefer a place where several service providers are interconnected.

Thus, he projected that they would be in favour of making Nigeria their regional hub, a point from where they can distribute their content to the West African region.

Rudman reaffirmed that the IXPN, a not-for-profit organisation, and the first and only neutral IXP in Nigeria, would remain committed to its objective of providing a core national Internet infrastructure that facilitates Internet operation in Nigeria, and to localising traffic as well as reducing the routing cost of local Internet; and would therefore, continue to offer subsidised services to all its members.

He disclosed that some of the critical Internet infrastructure managed by IXPN include some Root servers, the Time server for Nigeria, the Measurement-Lab Network – a Diagnostic Tool which employs a combination of variables to analyse the performance of ISPs and enhance Internet transparency while helping to sustain a healthy, innovative Internet.

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