Free peering points target bandwidth budgets

South Africa’s first open and public peering facility with a national presence is now live, running from data centres in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Peering is the process where Internet Service Providers (ISP) exchange traffic. The facility is known as NAPAfrica, and is operated by data centre provider Teraco Data Environments.

Lex van Wyk, Managing Director, Teraco Data Environments, says that a free peering point is a strategic imperative in South Africa, where internet usage will continue to increase with the adoption of cloud services and declining connectivity costs. “Decreasing the absolute cost of internet transit is one of the principal drivers for pursuing an internet peering strategy and is very necessary in South Africa.”

With the NAPAfrica exchange points located within Teraco data centres, neutrality is guaranteed and according to Van Wyk this neutrality is a critical feature of Internet exchange facilities worldwide. LINX (UK), AMS-IX (Netherlands), and JPNAP (Japan) all ensure a fully open market for carriers, content delivery networks, ISPs and Application Service Providers to interconnect without restriction. It saves ISPs money in addition to increasing bandwidth performance with lowered latency.

John Souter, CEO of LINX, says "The importance of peering and peering points cannot be underestimated in today's internet infrastructure. Network operators, whether they are access or content providers, have benefited hugely from the growth of peering points around the world, and it is good to see more and more being set up in Africa.  Transit prices have fallen dramatically in the regions where peering has become well established, and all sorts of Internet-based services have become viable and flourished as a result of the low latency and other benefits that come hand in hand with peering."

The introduction of route servers by NAPAfrica into the South African market will reduce ISPs’ operational costs by simplifying the peering process, giving easy access to high speed, low-latency connections.

“Management overhead of maintaining connections to a typical IXP model increases exponentially as the exchange grows, whereas NAPAfrica's unique Multi-Lateral peering model allows peers to connect once and grow with the exchange,” says Andrew Owens, Head of IT at Teraco.

He says that route servers lower the barrier to entry for operators that do not necessarily have the resources or hardware to manage multiple connections to numerous peers. “In a typical exchange model, a peer would need to negotiate agreements with each participant that they wish to peer with.  This would require them to establish, manage and maintain individual peering sessions with each of those participants which could prove overwhelming, especially within a large exchange.”

“Instead of costly multiple direct links between carriers and service providers, a single peering point allows multiple networks to interconnect using a shared gigabit-speed switch fabric. With the exploding growth of traffic in today’s broadband market, National Service Providers in the region must peer to exchange their traffic to reduce costs, increase redundancy, reduce latency and generally improve performance”, he added.

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