The Internet Society experts have urged Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to adopt internet peering as it is fast becoming the most important and effective way for them to improve the efficiency of their operations.
Peering is a process by which two internet networks connect and exchange traffic, in technical terms it is “a business relationship whereby ISPs reciprocally provide connectivity to each others’ customers and it allows them to directly hand over traffic between each other’s customers, without having to pay a third party to carry that traffic across the Internet for them
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Regional and Interconnection Workshop convened by mobile telecoms regulatory authority POTRAZ, Nishal Goburdhan a member of the Internet Society and veteran of the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) explained the benefits of internet peering and urged all content providers within the Zimbabwean internet peering ecosystem to find common ground and work in the best interest of all stakeholders.
“Internet peering is a good thing because the more networks peer the more outlets you have to send your information out and receive. The more entry points you bring into your network the faster data can get to you. More importantly it helps to reduce your costs, since all your traffic is not going through your upstream transit as there will be a direct connection,”
Goburdhan added that the downside of not peering is largely the exposure of data amongst foreign networks which can easily access information.
“What should be of concern to Zimbabweans is its more secure because when traffic is going through two networks but not going directly between those two networks then another country can have a different regulatory regime and they might want to listen in on your traffic, although for now in SADC it might not be big issue but what about the future?”
Regional Development Manager for Africa at the Internet Society Michuki Mwangi also shed light on why ISPs need to develop a broader peering strategy,
“The interconnection Vision For Africa is that by 2020: 80% of the internet traffic should be locally accessible and only 20% of the internet accessed internationally” he said.
Meanwhile, the Internet Society and Facebook have teamed up to provide Internet Exchange Points (IXP) across Africa. The IXP’s will allow internet traffic to stay within the continent – as currently most of Africa’s internet traffic flows out to Europe or the US and then back again.
This results in much slower internet connections and discourages people from creating local content.