Nigerian internet exchange set to come on stream

By   |  September 28, 2006

Nigeria will spend about 30 million naira (R1.9 million) on the construction of a national Internet Exchange Point (IXP). The exchange point, which is expected to be commissioned by Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo within days, will make it possible to keep local internet traffic within the country.

An exchange is a physical infrastructure that allows different ISPs to exchange internet traffic between their autonomous networks by means of mutual peering agreements, which allow traffic to be exchanged without cost.

The IXP project was unveiled during the 5th International Nigeria Telecommunications Forum in Abuja this week and President Olusegun Obasanjo is expected to formally commission the project before the end of September 2006.

Samuel Adeleke, president of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) of Nigeria, said that keeping local internet traffic within the the country would reduce the amount of money operators spend on international bandwidth. IXPs reduce the portion of an ISP’s traffic which must be delivered via their upstream transit providers.

President Obasanjo had directed the establishment of the point in 2005 during the second phase of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis. It is common knowledge that the absence of IXPs on the African continent is in part responsible for the high cost of internet access in many African countries.

Adeleke also noted that telecommunications operators would particularly benefit from the project as many of them can carry their local traffic through the internet using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and subsequently spend less on transmission of local calls.

He said that the cost of local calls could come down to about the same level as we have in the international arena. “As you know, it costs more for calls to be made within Nigeria than when the call is made to the United States. This is because operators are using voice over internet protocol and with the IXP, we should see the cost of local calls falling as well.”

Adeleke said that as a national project, the IXP will have seven branches located in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Abuja, Maiduguri and Kano. He said within each of these branches there would also be local connection points, which would all be connected to together.

According to Adeleke about four firms were already connected to the exchange and that live tests of data transmission was currently being carried out, and advising that firms who need the service, especially internet service providers need not wait for the commissioning before being connected to it. — Hana

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