The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), who won a tender for US$200,000 in September 2015 to build a regional Internet Exchange Point has committed to establishing the Zimbabwe Internet eXchange Association (ZIXA) by the 15th of May 2017. This looks to be after their failure to meet the December 2016 deadline (POTRAZ in their defense stated that funding was delayed hence their failure to meet the deadline).
At a breakfast meeting this morning it was revealed that POTRAZ will not “force or compel” any entities to be a part of the Association, adopting a ‘soft touch approach’ in the beginning, increasing their firmness if need-be depending on the uptake of the facility by the internet operators – I have my reservations to this, as I believe that all operators should be made to join, with a number of benefits touted but most importantly the cost of data coming down.
For the benefit of readers (like myself) who might not understand all the jargon and technical terms, basically what POTRAZ are proposing to do is to have all our internet go through one point (an Internet eXchange Point – IXP) and there ‘switches’ will check whether the stuff that is being requested on the internet is ‘local’ or ‘international’. If the content is from a local website (I’m not too sure how many websites host locally – we don’t) then the consumer will access the website free of charge, if it is from an international website, then the Exchange will go and collect that content.
The beauty however, is that that website just needs to be accessed once and after that will be stored (‘cached’) on the exchange’s serves, equating to an ‘access once serve plenty’ format.
An Internet eXcahnage Point will allow a number of things to take place, such as:
- reducing the cost of the internet
- improving the customer experience (as internet data is accessed locally, hence faster as there are less hops to access it)
- “improved national security” – our data is not getting into the hands of our detractors and so they won’t know what we are doing in lovely Zimbabwe (insert ‘hondo ye minda‘ jingle here).
From the looks of things, most of the goings-on have been foundational/background stuff, hence it may look like the wheels were not turning for the implementation of the Exchange, however, based on the enthusiasm in the room this morning, May 15 may be an achievable deadline.
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