Vodacom Business keen to peer with MWEB

MWEB CEO Rudi Jansen stunned the Internet industry recently when he announced on 20 October that their days of paying for local transit are over at the end of October 2010.

“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.

These words were put into action last week, and on Thursday MWEB terminated their local transit over SAIX, essentially cutting off local connectivity to most service providers which do not peer with them directly, including MTN and Vodacom.

While Telkom is currently still connecting with MWEB through a paid transit link, this connection is set to be severed early this week.

This decision, MWEB said, ‘will hopefully encourage all local telecoms players to embrace free and open peering’, which in turn will increase competition, drive down prices and increase service levels.

MWEB ISP CEO Derek Hershaw said that old school telcos and ISPs need to move away from unnecessary profiteering at the expense of the SA consumer – networks should be open.

Vodacom and Vodacom Business have been grouped with MTN Business and Telkom for their apparent unwillingness to peer with MWEB, but they may be collateral damage in the ensuing peering battle started by MWEB.

Vodacom said in an official statement that they are fully supportive of peering with MWEB, adding that MWEB’s recent action of cutting off peering links is perplexing.

“We were in the final planning stages of this [peering with MWEB], so we don’t understand their unilateral action taken [by MWEB] on Thursday,” Vodacom said.

Vodacom added that they have taken steps to mitigate the effect on Vodacom customers and remain ready to finalise the agreement.

Concerns over MWEB’s decision

MTN Business and Telkom have both voiced their unhappiness with MWEB’s decision to terminate their transit links and force changes to both their and other networks.

“It is of concern to us that this level of change is done in the peak of a business day,” said MTN Business’ General Manager of Infrastructure and Technology, Edwin Thompson.

In a strongly worded response to questions from MyBroadband Telkom said that it is a pity that MWEB is choosing to let Telkom’s and other South African Internet subscribers take the brunt of its peering battle. “MWEB’s unilateral measure is not in the spirit of the Internet community,” said Telkom.

Vodacom is also not particularly impressed with MWEB’s recent actions. The cellular operator told MyBroadband that MWEB’s recent decision to cut paid transit links means that Vodacom subscribers cannot get to MWEB’s network through previous means.

“We have received no formal notification of this from either MWEB or SAIX. It is of concern that MWEB will implement complex network re-configurations during a business day which will affect both MWEB and Vodacom subscribers,” said Vodacom.

Traffic between the Vodacom and MWEB networks is routed internationally – putting international networks under strain – but Vodacom said that it has adequate international capacity to support the re-routing of traffic.

“Vodacom has more than sufficient capacity available on its international network to accommodate any MWEB traffic, and there will be no incremental cost,” said Vodacom.

“Vodacom will route traffic dynamically according to a tier 1 provider approach, via BGP – if all local connectivity is removed, this means the best path to reach MWEB subscribers and content will be via international connectivity,” said Vodacom.

Vodacom however said that the real question is whether MWEB will actually have sufficient international capacity to support their drastic decision.  “During this year, on a few occasions MWEB’s international connectivity failed – the concern is rather whether MWEB can assure reliable access to content via their international capacity?” asked Vodacom.

We are, and have been, keen to peer with MWEB

Vodacom told MyBroadband that it has always been keen to peer with MWEB, and that discussions were progressing well to make this possible.

“MWEB and Vodacom have been in discussion to implement direct peering for some time and are, in fact, very close to implementation. Thursday’s events are certainly perplexing taking this into account,” said Vodacom.

Vodacom added that it has never requested MWEB to pay Vodacom for internet transit between Vodacom and MWEB.  “It is unfortunate MWEB created the impression Vodacom charged it in any way to access the Vodacom network,” Vodacom said.

“Until recently, MWEB content was somewhat distributed across different, other (non MWEB) providers’ networks, and it was not immediately possible to effect direct peering between MWEB and Vodacom,” said Vodacom.

“Vodacom in fact paid SAIX for providing the service to Vodacom subscribers and content, to be accessible by MWEB users and content.”

Vodacom concluded that they will “continue to establish peering directly, locally with MWEB” and expressed hope that the peering agreement and infrastructure will be in place shortly.

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Vodacom Business keen to peer with MWEB