TESPOK in deal to provide Africa’s first mobile data roaming exchange point

PCCW Global, the international operating division of HKT, Hong Kong’s telecoms service provider, and Kenya’s technology service providers’ lobby, TESPOK, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide Africa’s first mobile data roaming exchange point, an IPX based networking infrastructure that will keep roaming data on the continent while dramatically improving user experience, gaining network efficiencies, decreasing costs, and reducing loads on international cable infrastructure.

Growing demand for bandwidth-intensive applications such as YouTube, Netflix, and WhatsApp are fueling demand for 3G and 4G high-speed mobile networks throughout Africa. However, providing these services to roaming mobile users is fraught with difficulties because most roaming data currently transfers via the closest data Internet exchange points located in distant locations. The increased latency caused by this inefficient network scenario explains why roaming customers are frequently frustrated by poor service quality.

The PCCW Global and TESPOK solution is to set up a local African data roaming IXP strategically located in Kenya. The exchange point itself will be connected to PCCW Global’s tier one network consistently ranked within the top 10 for global IP peering.

Africa has the fastest-growing youth population in the world, a rapidly growing number of Internet users, and an increasing demand for connectivity. Keeping pace with demand from African countries, PCCW Global has continued to enhance network diversity across the continent, increasing bandwidth capacity by up to 400% over major African backbone routes in the past few years and dramatically improving network availability, speed, and quality in the region.

PCCW Global is also heavily investing in the infrastructure for Africa, including the 12,000km Pakistan & East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) cable system that will connect three of the largest and most populous continents in the world – Asia, Africa and Europe. When complete, the cable will provide the shortest and most direct route between the continents, resulting again in reduced latency and a correspondingly improved end-user experience.

All this commitment to high-speed and low latency networking infrastructure will benefit the new data roaming Internet exchange point, providing world-class connectivity for African network operators across the continent and the world.

Sameh Sobhy, the VP for Middle East, Turkey & Africa at PCCW Global, said: “Since African data roaming traffic is doubling year on year, the collaboration with TESPOK is an important step for the continent. Once an MNO is connected to the service, roaming customers will benefit from vastly improved quality in Africa, while facilitating cost efficiencies.”

Fiona Asonga, the CEO of TESPOK, said: “With PCCW Global, we finally have a partner with the technical expertise, world-class international network and dedication to the African market to realize a vision that will benefit the continent. PCCW Global is one of the largest network providers in Africa. We expect that the company’s unique routing capabilities will decrease connectivity costs for operators who make use of this African Union supported GRX (Global Roaming Exchange).”

PCCW Global covers more than 3,000 cities and 150 countries, while its network supports a portfolio of integrated global communications services including connectivity, applications, and tailored solutions facilitated by the on-demand digital platform.

PCCW Global is headquartered in Hong Kong, and maintains regional centers in Australia, Belgium, China, France, Greece, Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, the UAE, UK and US.

Technology Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK) represents interests of technology service providers in Kenya. TESPOK was established in 1999, prior to which there was no IXP on the African continent between Morocco and South Africa. In early 2000, TESPOK undertook to organise a neutral, non-profit IXP for its members.

To date there are 48 members peering at the KIXP – ranging from ISPs, government networks, education networks, the ccTLD Operator, Internet Backbone Gateway Operators, mobile operators and Value Add Services Providers. KIXP has in place as value added services to the industry three DNS root servers, Routing looking glass, Network Time Synchronization Server, Global Google Cache and various security monitoring tools for the Industry CSIRT.

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