I'm replying to a the one-week old posting on the idea of ISPs
sharing bandwidth in Kenya.
Sharing bandwidth appears to be an obvious way forward, but has it's
problems, which (if you think about it) is the most likely reason why
the ISPs are not actually doing it:
Let's take peering as an example - where packets from one
ISP to the other cross the peering link within the country, rather
than going to the US and back.
This works well as a bilateral arrangment between two similar-sized
ISPs. The benefits are obvious. Only Friday afternoon, I could not
access my POP server between 2 cities in South Africa (even though I
was the only one logged onto a 128K dedicated line), because the ISP
I was accessing from did not have a peering link to the ISP with my
When ISPs are unequal, the smaller one stands to gain, since its
smaller base of users can now gain faster access to a larger base of
users. Within the larger base, the bulk of the traffic is
international traffic anyway (most traffic is web-browsing, and
inward bound packets). The next largest proportion of traffic is
internal to that ISP anyway, since it has a high share of users. Only
a small proportion of traffic crosses the peering link.
If the one ISP is much larger, it will rather not peer, as that will
mean more effort, small gain and losing one of its competitive
When there are more ISP's involved, new issues arise, and the whole
thing gets even more complex. Of course, in multi-peering
arrangements, it's easier for a small ISP to catch a free ride on the
other ISPs' international bandwidth, thus saving on the biggest
operational cost! It's also more difficult for the individual ISP to
promote it's link as the fastest.
In short, peering and bandwidth sharing is good for the consumer, but
ISPs need to perceive a benefit to outweigh the effort and potential
International Development Research Centre
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