We will not pay you one single cent (for transit) anymore: MWEB CEO

MWEB have been vociferous supporters of free and open peering in South Africa, which would not only makes bandwidth cheaper but would likely increase service levels to broadband users.

To date the status quo was that smaller ISPs would pay larger operators like Telkom, MTN Business, Internet Solutions and Vodacom Business for transit capacity to gain access to local content. The larger players would typically peer directly with each other to share content and traffic.

Many smaller players, including Neology, Cybersmart and Web Africa, have advocated the benefits of free and open peering at peering points like the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) – but not much has changed.

According to Neology CTO Roelf Diedericks companies like MTN and Telkom have been particularly challenging to peer with, pointing out that incumbent operators in South Africa have not really figured out what peering is all about and what the benefits are.

“The reality is that the Internet is built on peering,” said Diedericks, adding that he currently pays Telkom for transit to get to the ISPs (most likely MTN Business and Internet Solutions) which they do not currently peer with.

Diedericks advocated fair and reasonable peering agreements between parties, and asked on industry players to sort it out among themselves rather than involve a regulatory body like ICASA.

MWEB’s push for peering

MWEB has joined the push for free and open peering, but they are not merely using good argument or strongly worded media comments to get the biggest players to see the light.

When MultiChoice launched their revamped DStv on Demand Internet service in May this year the company surprised the market by announcing that it will initially only be available to MWEB ADSL subscribers.

The reason: MultiChoice said that DStv on Demand online content will only be available to networks (hence ISPs) which agree to an open peering arrangement with MWEB. This is clearly an attempt to force the larger providers to peer with MWEB – something which has been challenging in the past.

This strategy seems to be showing results with ISPs. MultiChoice CTO Gerdus van Eeden recently said that the service is available through providers like Cybersmart, Neology and Vox Telecom, with many more agreements in the pipeline.

We will not pay you one single cent anymore

MWEB has now thrown down the gauntlet by stating that they will stop paying local transit fees from next month.

“We have made a conscious decision that as from next month [November] we will not pay anybody for transit traffic any more. So if you don’t want to peer with us, that is it! We will not pay you one single cent anymore,” said MWEB CEO Rudi Jansen.

“We will need to find different ways to interconnect the networks [if the only previous way in which it was achieved was through transit capacity purchased by Telkom],” said Jansen.

If this extremely bold move by Jansen results in direct peering between MWEB and the larger operators – and in turn remove the need to pay for local transit traffic – it can change the local Internet environment for the better.

Open peering is one of the cornerstones of driving down local bandwidth costs and making broadband more affordable, and it may even make local hosting cheap enough to limit the need for many local websites to host internationally to save on bandwidth costs.

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We will not pay you one single cent (for transit) anymore: MWEB CEO