Bandwidth Consortium partners IXPN to rejig NgREN

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Bandwidth Consortium, connectivity project of the Nigeria ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions, is presently working with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) to resuscitate the idled Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN).

The aim of the handshake is to revive, build and nurture local research and education clusters for Nigeria’s over over 600 higher education entities. The capacity that the IXPN is bringing will also interconnect all research and education institutions in the economy and link them with other research and education networks worldwide.

Members of the Bandwidth Consortium presently are being connected through an IXPN’s router at the Abuja exchange, which is made accessible to local higher education institutions via leased optic-fibre circuits owned by a local ISP as part of a pilot supported by the Consortium, or are connecting directly via radio links where feasible.

By peering with the IXPN’s route servers, users receive local routes via the IXPN and all traffic runs over cheaper fibre links than those offered by commercial ISPs. Interestingly, more than half of the traffic (on an average day) is destined towards the in-country link, which is related to the fact that a lot of cached Google services, CDN mirrors, and locally hosted applications are available through the IXPN.

Connecting the Consortium router to the IXPN requires many steps, including: an Autonomous System Number (ASN), an IP address block, a BGP-speaking router, an ‘affordable’ physical connection to the IXPN, and of course an IXPN membership, which typically requires that you possess the other ingredients and pay the applicable fees.

Many university administrators find it hard to understand why they should fill out some forms, sign an agreement, and pay membership fees to get an ASN and IP address block, when they already pay an ISP for connectivity. In the AFRINIC region, getting an ASN also involves proving that your network is multihomed (that is, you have more than one upstream ISP) or that your network will soon be connected to an Internet exchange.

To provide immediate access to the IXPN within Abuja, the Nigeria ICT Forum, which is an AFRINIC LIR, is making its router accessible as startup support to members within Abuja who are still in the process of acquiring their Internet numbering resources.

The more higher education institutions are connected with high speed links, the more efficient the connectivity becomes and the greater the chance that the Internet can develop and grow at the rate of other economies.