A month after the launch of its uncapped ADSL offering that, MWEB is now calling on all Internet operators to enter into open bi-lateral peering relationships to allow the free exchange of internet traffic.
Peering is the business relationship whereby ISPs reciprocally facilitate the flow of data between each other’s customers. Open peering is the free exchange of Internet traffic between two ISPs and is an international norm.
‚We are sending invitations to ISPs and network providers in South Africa to enter into open, bi-lateral peering agreements with us,‚ said MWEB CEO, Rudi Jansen. ‚Open peering is a very important part of creating an affordable, efficient Internet market in South Africa. It will give users a better Internet experience and break the stranglehold that a few large players currently exert over the rest of the market. This is the logical next step to liberating the internet market which we are strongly championing for.‚
Jansen added that South Africa has a poorly developed peering infrastructure and that most of the major internet access providers charge exorbitant fees for traffic to transit to and from their networks. ‚This is a direct result of restrictive peering policies applied in the past. It has allowed internet access providers to protect revenue streams at much higher rates than international norms. It is also why it is cheaper to route traffic abroad destined for South Africa, than it is to route that traffic locally. As a result of these policies, growth in the industry has been slow,‚ he said.
Peering can be compared to the much talked-about interconnection rates for voice minutes. High charges make the model attractive for operators, but restrict competition and limit growth.
‚The more open and fair the interconnection, the more growth the industry will see as a result of the increased competition – and consumers and businesses will benefit as a result. The added advantage of peering is that, if correctly implemented, the quality of the end-user’s internet experience should also improve,‚ said Jansen.
Open peering will greatly assist in growing the market in line with the vision from the Minister of Communications, Siphiwe Nyanda to provide universal access to broadband by 2019. In his budget speech, Nyanda said expanding broadband uptake ‚would impact on the growth of the economy through expanding markets, increasing business efficiency and promoting competition.‚
For internet users, particularly those with uncapped ADSL, open peering will take South Africa a step closer to ubiquitous broadband.
Peering agreement discussions have already begun and MWEB will formally invite ISPs and operators to enter into peering relationships as soon as possible.
Jansen concluded, ‚MWEB first changed the market to benefit the end consumer with the launch of affordable uncapped ADSL. Open peering in turn will improve service levels and the internet experience itself. But we do not want to stop here. There is still a lot more work needed in the industry to enable South Africans to experience the Internet like the rest of the world does. MWEB will continue to champion this cause and more announcements can be expected in due course.‚