Will a Neutral IXP Reduce High Internet Costs?
The recent news article in LoopPNG regarding an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) comes as great news for anyone who relies on internet as the backbone of communications and services. The article was appropriately titled “New IXP facility to address high internet costs”. However, will it really significantly reduce internet costs?
Why Internet in PNG is so Costly
In order to answer this question, we first need to understand the root cause of the problem. What are the factors that determine internet costs? And why is it so expensive in PNG?
In 2013, during a quarterly seminar hosted by the PNG Computer Society (PNGCS) at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby, Kametan Sibunakau, then an ISP Manager with Daltron gave a presentation titled “ISP – Making Internet Affordable in PNG.”
Kametan highlighted, from an internet providers’ perspective, the reasons for high internet costs – and the main factor was the local loop or the final leg of internet service delivery.
The local loop (the last mile) is basically the last connection between and ISP and the consumer. In terms of wireless data i.e., 4G, WiMax etc., it would be the broadcast towers. In a physical link it would be the connection (cooper or fibre) from your home to Telikom PNG etc.
In an ideal situation the local loop should not be that costly. In fact, it should be only the initial investment cost for equipment like towers or cables. However, associated costs make it so – for example rentals and maintenance. The continuous sabotage of Telikom PNG cables is a clear example of this.
Now that we understand that the major cost of internet is the local loop, then let us examine the IXP more closely and how it will affect internet costs.
How an IXP will Impact Internet Traffic
An IXP facility will change the internet ecosystem of the country and enable services. It will become an avenue for information exchange locally without international routing. At the moment, traffic between different organizations in the country is routed overseas before arriving at their destinations.
It will reduce latency and improve internet traffic. According to the Internet Society,the introduction of an IXP in Kenya allowed Google to create a cache for them which significantly increased the amount of local content and faster internet speeds.
This may also improve the growth of internet in the country. However, the main question is how it will impact the cost of internet.
What I Think
Personally, I believe it will make little difference to the current cost of internet. It will reduce latency and may improve internet speeds. However, it does not address the most expensive component of service delivery – the local loop.
In order to make an impact in the cost of internet, we need to take into consideration the proposal by Sibunakau, and that is either to share infrastructure costs or let the government take responsibility.
What do you think?