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Mombasa Internet traffic re-routed to Nairobi hub

Internet traffic to Mombasa and parts of Tanzania will be routed through Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
Internet traffic to Mombasa and parts of Tanzania will be routed through Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

Internet traffic to Mombasa and parts of Tanzania will be routed through Nairobi after the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) and a Kenyan telecoms lobby group closed Kenya’s second Internet Exchange Point (IXP) that was based in Mombasa.

AMS-IX in a statement said the decision was made after the Mombasa-based Internet exchange point failed to attract enough users.

The second IXP in the country was launched in 2010 to help route all the region’s traffic locally. This was expected to improve Internet users’ experience, save operators the expense of passing regional traffic through Nairobi and reduce the costs associated with traffic exchange between Internet service providers (ISPs).

In its absence it means that regional operators will now have to pass their traffic via Nairobi. “To date there have been only four parties who have connected to the platform,” said the AMS-IX statement.

Minimise loss

The exchange point had attracted international tech giant Google and three local ISPs, but AMS-IX said it is not economically viable to continue running the system with the few clients.

In a statement on its website, AMS-IX said it will re-use the equipment which has been deployed in Kenya for other purposes to minimise loss of investment.

“We (AMS-IX and Telecommunication Service Providers Association of Kenya) believed strongly in the need for a regional IX. However, since the exchange point went live in mid-2014 it has proved difficult to attract parties to participate in the exchange. This has led to the difficult decision to close the East Africa Exchange Point as of June 1st.”

AMS, however, said the decision shouldn’t stall development of Internet infrastructure in East Africa.

It noted that there is a project underway supported by the African Union to create an East Africa exchange point. It is supported by seven countries.

“AMS-IX believes that this initiative is the best for the African market, especially given that it will be owned and driven entirely by African-based parties enabling the community to demonstrate that it is ready and capable to take the next steps in independently developing its own Internet infrastructure,” said the statement.

AMS-IX said it will continue to support the development of the Internet infrastructure in Africa via initiatives such as the African Peering and Interconnection Forum, sharing their knowledge and experience, and the provisioning of equipment to developing Internet exchanges.

Mombasa is the landing point for all undersea fibre cables to Kenya and other landlocked countries in East Africa, a factor that made it an attractive location for international carriers to inter-connect with the region.