Tuesday, March 04, 2008

OECD on Global Opportunities for Internet Access Development

The OECD published a great interview with its senior economist Dr. Sam Paltridge on Global Opportunities for Internet Access Development. He also wrote a paper on the subject which is a great read. Some snippets that I liked alot

Q.What role do Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) play in the creation of Internet service?
Name withheld

A. IXPs are places where different Internet networks can physically interconnect to send and receive traffic between their networks. Following the commercialization of the Internet they rapidly spread around the world to enable service providers to economically and efficiently exchange traffic locally.

In the absence of an IXP, in any country, local traffic between two service providers will by and large be exchanged internationally. In these cases an email sent from one user to another, in the same country but using different service providers, may be routed via an IXP in New York or Paris rather exchanged domestically. By way of contrast, if that traffic is exchanged locally it can be far less expensive (i.e. avoiding expensive international circuits) and provide better performance for users (e.g. in some countries avoiding satellite circuits with their inherent delays).

Some 90 countries don’t have IXP’s today. There is a map created by the Packet Clearing House which keeps count of countries with and without an IXP: https://prefix.pch.net/applications/ixpdir/summary/
IXPs are relatively inexpensive (e.g. less than USD 40 000 per IXP) to establish and can benefit all stakeholders. For less than USD 4 million each country of the world without an IXP could have one.

Such expenditure, for example, in the form of development co-operation, however, would only make sense if the conditions are in place to enable the IXP to operate efficiently and become industry driven. The main challenge is often is creating awareness of the benefits of IXPs.

and from the report
The next several billion Internet users represent a commercial opportunity rather than a burden and this should be reflected in policy approaches.

Liberalisation of communication markets focuses competitive forces on the expansion of access and affordability for the poor as well as promoting innovation applicable to local circumstances as highlighted by the recent experience of some Asian and African developing countries. Improved access and lower communication costs generate general economic and social benefits. Historically, in markets typified by monopolies and little momentum for access growth, the cost of reaching and maintaining service to low income users was not sustainable.

And on Page 12 there is a explanation of Jipp's Law which used to mean that countries could over and underinvest in telecommunications and which was used to keep investment low and prices high in accordance with the development of the economy in that region.

and on interconnection it sais:

MPP and CPP markets have both exhibited strengths and weaknesses relative to each other in thedevelopment of wireless markets. Both have shown capabilities for innovation and growth. A number of open questions for the future relate to how will both models will deal with convergence with the Internet.Will one model, for example, prove more adept at fostering innovation at the interface with the Internet? How will financial flows between countries be affected by the different termination models? Will one system lead to greater integration in service offerings between countries or networks with the same termination model irrespective of geography? Finally, if termination rates are about compensating networks for costs what explains the vast differences between charges and how will this impact on the competitiveness of countries with high termination rates?

All in all it is a must read on development of networks as it covers many angles on the subject from submarine fibre, to IXP's, to interconnection

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