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Internet. Photo by Caio from Pexels

In a move delivering clear benefits to Internet users in East Africa, Asteroid is setting up an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Africa Data Centres’ Nairobi facility.

IXPs are great catalysts for improved local interconnection. An IXP enables networks to peer (the direct connection and exchange of traffic), which results in reducing costs and latency, and providing a better quality of service to Internet end-users.

According to Dan Kwach, Managing Director of Africa Data Centres East Africa, welcoming Asteroid IXP in Nairobi will enhance the connections between big tech giants, international content providers and local Kenyan and African networks and enterprises, further catalysing East Africa’s digital transformation.

“We are essentially a carrier-neutral business and while we already have an excellent partnership with Kenya IXP, we are pleased to see Asteroid start operating an IXP in Nairobi. Hosting a second IXP within our facility provides more options to our customers and increases network resilience and redundancy,” he says.

Proven track record

Asteroid has demonstrated a proven track record in delivering highly reliable, cost-effective IXPs within and outside the African continent, one example being the Asteroid Mombasa IXP which has gathered a localised community of 20+ networks in one year.

“We are excited to enter into partnership with Africa Data Centres. Since its start in 2012, the Nairobi facility has hosted a diverse range of networks and has been expanded to accommodate to the growth of the ecosystem. In setting up our IXP in Nairobi, the decision to install one of our points of presence within ADC was simply a no-brainer,” Says Remco van Mook, CEO at Asteroid.

Having content and services close to local users is necessary to obtain good response times and low latency. At the same time, it also makes those services and content more reliable and less vulnerable to external disruption.

Kwach explains that another critical benefit of hosting Asteroid IXP is that in Africa it is not uncommon to see Internet traffic – destined from one local ISP to another – leave the continent through expensive international links, before returning to reach the other local party.

“This is not only inefficient and slow but also leads to high costs for all parties. However, having access to IXPs on-site allows our customers to exchange this traffic locally instead, eliminating the need for third parties or expensive international links.

Redundancy, performance, routing, ease

“Apart from the fact that network infrastructure costs are lowered and there is greater control of routing paths, peering increases efficiency by improving network performance, while at the same time, having access to more than one IXP is good from a redundancy perspective.”

Moreover, notes Kwach, with a direct connection, connectivity is improved for both networks, resulting in reduced latency and better bandwidth utilisation for all network users.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits to Africa Data Centres’ clients is the ease of use Asteroid brings. Through Asteroid, networks can handle their connection at the click of a button using Asteroid’s management dashboard. Networks can also leverage the use of their peering ports to exchange, and sell and buy, all sorts of IP services via private VLANs. This fosters the development and exchange of services among the local ecosystem.

“As a generation of African digital-natives emerges, demand is being created for high-quality carrier-neutral data centre capacity. Africa Data Centres understands the importance of peering with modern, well-run, cost-effective IXPs in Africa, as we view this as something that can catalyse Africa’s digital and economic transformation,” concludes Kwach.

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