Papua New Guinea can expect an improved Internet experience as local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) begin connecting to the economy’s first neutral Internet Exchange Point – PNG-IXP. A soft launch event was held on 5 April 2017 to commemorate its operation with an official launch set for 17 May.
Hosted by PNG’s telecommunication regulator, the National Information and Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), the new IXP will help reduce delay and operational costs associated with routing local traffic via international links, improving the quality of connectivity and service.
Speaking after a recent IX-focused workshop, facilitated by APNIC’s training team in conjunction with the Internet Society (ISOC), NICTA spokesperson Andirauga Paru Nongkas said local ISPs and Content Providers (as well as Google and Akamai) have shown interest and support.
“The feedback we’ve received from those who attended the workshop, which included technical representatives from ISPs, academia, and government, was really positive. They felt they now had a far better understanding of the technology, as well as the responsibility and role of NICTA as a facilitator of the PNG IXP project,” says Andirauga.
Seeing the significantly improved traffic flow during the demonstration had a big impact on attendees, Andirauga says, and was a key difference from previous PNG IXP workshops that NICTA had commissioned.
“Workshop participants were impressed by the live demonstration the APNIC trainers provided where two local ISPs were connected to a test environment at the PNG Neutral IXP.”
“One of the ISPs, which connected to the IXP during the live demo, committed to maintaining that connection and we’ve been lobbying all major ISPs in PNG to establish permanent links.”
“We’re having ongoing discussions with Google and Akamai who are interested in establishing local caches at the IXP when it is operational,” something which Andirauga says is a major draw card to ISPs.
“It’s a matter of connecting more ISPs, particularly larger ones, to the neutral IXP to show these CDNs that there is commitment to this cause as well as critical mass, while simultaneously convincing ISPs that CDNs will commit to hosting their caches and the advantages of being able to connect to these,” says Andirauga.
Lessons learned – working with industry key to IXP success
NICTA have been working closely with ISOC, APNIC and local stakeholders since 2014 to explore establishing an IXP in PNG.
Andirauga admits it has been a long process but is encouraged by the recent developments following the APNIC workshop.
More so, she believes the whole process has been valuable for strengthening NICTA’s relationship with the industry. “As part of our process we looked at how other regulators have taken a facilitator role and the lessons they learned,” she says.
“We have seen the benefit of including all stakeholders in the discussion. We’re certainly engaging more with industry, listening and understanding what they want—particularly from the commercial side of their business—working with them to find the win-win of what’s best for their businesses whilst also promoting the Government’s agenda through its National Broadband Policy to achieve high quality and affordable broadband services essential for future social and economic development in PNG.”
Another important lesson for NICTA has been the need to develop a charter for the IX facility, which outlines the guidelines members and NICTA must accept and adhere to for it to remain neutral.
“Since 2014, we have stressed that NICTA is only facilitating the set up of the neutral IXP; in the end the facility will be owned by members of the IX. So far, we have fifteen signatories, including local ISPs (B Mobile, Global, Digitec, Digicel and Speedcast to name a few) and two local interest groups (Computer Society and PNG ISP cluster). We have established two sub-committees, one responsible for technical matters of the IX and the other for governance.”
Andirauga passed on NICTA’s appreciation for the help provided by APNIC and ISOC and the collaborative partnerships fostered.
APNIC supports IXP development in the region by collaborating with other organizations (ICANN, ISOC and NSRC). APNIC also supports IXP activities by way of Technical Assistance.
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