The Internet Service Providers’ Association’s Internet Exchanges (INXs) have gained great traction over the last few years, but two of South Africa’s largest operators are still hesitant to share traffic at these independent peering points.
Recent statistics showed that Internet providers share over 5Gbps of traffic at the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) and over 2Gbps at the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) – up around 100% year on year.
Despite the popularity and success of JINX and CINX, Telkom and Vodacom are not exchanging traffic at these two peering points. Curiously, Vodacom has a presence at JINX, but is not exchanging traffic at the facility.
Graham Beneke, chair of ISPA’s INX working group, explained that some of the concerns from Telkom and Vodacom may lie in ISPA’s previous policy which required all members to connect to the JINX/CINX switch. This, in turn, was seen as pushing members into certain peering agreements.
Beneke explained that while ISPA encourages free and open peering, there are no forced agreements at any ISPA Internet exchange. He highlighted that service providers have the freedom to engage in commercial agreements at CINX, JINX, and DINX, and that they even allow for private peering at their facilities.
Beneke said that while it is difficult to break an incumbent mindset when it comes to public peering points, they are working hard to convince Telkom and Vodacom to exchange traffic at their facilities.
Beneke said that there are definite advantages for all service providers to share traffic at ISPA’s Internet exchange points, which includes lowering the cost of providing Internet services and sharing voice traffic over a secure VLAN.
The value of peering
Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov highlighted the need for free and open peering to drive down the cost of local bandwidth in South Africa.
“There are still Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – most notably Internet Solutions, Telkom and MTN – that will not peer. These companies make up over half of our local bandwidth, and it costs us lots of money to get content from them,” said Fialkov.
“If there was no cost to get bandwidth from Telkom, MTN and Internet Solutions, we could significantly reduce the price of bandwidth to our customers,” said Fialkov.