Keeping Local Internet Traffic Local

Internet Cafe in Owerri, Nigeria

It is interesting that many of us don’t care about eMail traffic , but if you live in Lagos, you will appreciate how much time and money can be saved if traffic conditions are improved. The last time you clicked on send, and got a reply within minutes, your eMail actually ran thousands of miles before coming back to your neighbour. For Nigeria (and other countries where Internet Exchange Points, or IXP’s) are absent, each data packet sent online travels through foreign highways: for example, when I send an eMail message from my desk to my colleague, the eMail is routed through foreign exchange points — and this has cost implications. But here’s the good news for Nigerians: very soon, our local Internet traffic will be local.

Just like you sigh at the sight of the Idowu Taylor traffic warden who has a way of taking the sweat from your forehead, the news report quoted below should make you discover a smile in the corner of your lips:

Nigeria: FG Set to Establish Nigerian IXP
April 19, 2006
Frances Ovia, This Day Newspapers

The Board of Nigerian Communications Commission has approved a proposal to fund the setting up of Internet eXchange Points (IXPs) in Nigeria. The proposed IXPs which will operate on a not-for-profit basis, will be done by NCC in collaboration with the ISP community under the umbrella of Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) to achieve this objective.

The Internet is a network of interconnected computer networks and IXPs are the points at which multiple networks interconnect. In the absence of domestic IXP, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) must send all outbound traffic through its international links, most commonly satellite. The aim of building a Nigerian IXP is to keep and interchange Nigerian internet traffic of e-mail, download of local website content, file transfers via ftp, etc within Nigeria and allow only international traffic to be exchanged at points outside Nigeria.

At present, local internet traffic is exchanged outside the country, often across several hops with the attendant high cost of service delivery which limits internet penetration & local-content distribution, associated security risks, and the potential increase in congestion of international access circuits which could negatively affect Quality of Service. Following the conclusion of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis last year, the need for IXP/Internet Gateway for Nigeria became apparent. On this note, Mr. President became resolutely committed to encouraging the establishment of an IXP for Nigeria.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a consultative meeting held on 28th February 2006 with the key industry stake-holders after deliberations, set up an industry committee to discuss and agree a way forward for the rapid establishment of the IXP for Nigeria. The members of the committee recommended that the IXPs be built with 7 branches in Phases; these branches are to be located in Lagos (with Main-branch at NECOM House, and additional 2 sites at Ikeja and Victoria Island), Ibadan, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Abuja, Kano and Maiduguri, after which further sites will be built as may be required. All sites are to be link using high Capacity IP back-bone of over 100Mbs.

To this end, the NCC has also approved the appointment of Digitek TeeVee Engineering Co. Ltd to manage the implementation of the first phase of the IXP project in Lagos.

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