Liberia Commissions ‘Internet Exchange Point’

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The Liberian nation took one giant step Thursday, August 6, into its economic and development drive by the commissioning of the Liberia Internet Exchange Point (LIXP).
An Internet exchange point (IX or IXP) is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) exchange Internet traffic between autonomous systems or networks.
In essence, the LIXP will ensure that internet traffic intended for local use is kept local and will also help to reduce the cost of communication and increase speed and other benefits to diverse users.
Performing the commissioning of the LIXP Thursday, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai stated that it is an investment in one of the very critical IT infrastructures that helps to keep local internet traffic local and also improve network performance.
According to VP Boakai, a few years ago, the concept of IXP was largely restricted to Western countries and the industrialized world. “It’s my understanding that Alexandria in Egypt, Johannesburg in South Africa and Nairobi in Kenya were among the few other places that had IXPs in Africa.”
The Liberian VP further stated that the assumption behind the establishment of IXP is to contribute to commerce and trade and to also contribute to raising the living standard of people across the continent.
“Therefore, as policymakers, we believe that establishing IXP in Liberia will enable service providers to take advantage of the enormous opportunity IXP provides in creating demand for the local internet users in Liberia,” the VP said.
The VP disclosed that Liberia is among the first 10 African countries that have taken practical steps in establishing its IXP with support from the African Union; adding: “We feel obliged to establish this facility in Liberia because we have a duty to our citizens and other residents. That duty is to provide all diverse and potential users a state of the art technology that can enhance their businesses, professional and individual aspirations.”
Acknowledging the internet as being central to communication in the 21st century, Ambassador Boakai stated, “It therefore becomes our obligation to prioritize the development of core infrastructure that will enhance its access at a more affordable rate.”
Speaking earlier, Posts and Telecommunications Minister and Postmaster General, Dr. Frederick B. Norkeh, stated that because of the IXP technology, internet providers in Liberia will no longer pay transit cost for traffic generated from Liberia to carriers in Europe or in the United States.
“It will also support content creation such as NGOs, academic institutions, corporate entities, government institutions and individual users will have access to domain they most need to provide more information about their service and work.”
The Posts Master General, who praised the African Union (AU) for funding the LIXP, disclosed: “As for today, exchanging email and other internet services that even use ‘dot LR’ domain intended for local consumption is routed through ‪Europe‬, America or in other countries before terminating to the user in Liberia.”
For his part the AU Representative at the occasion, Mr. Moctar Yedaly, told the audience that the AU was present because they are committed to Liberia. He added: “We are here because we believe that that ICT can change the destiny and future of Africa.”
Mr. Yedaly disclosed that in 2010, the AU got to know that poor nations in Africa had spent more than 610 million United States Dollars to third parties, including nations in Europe and the US, just on transit fees. He commended the Liberian Government for the initiative.
Also speaking, Mr. Daniel Brewer, representative of the LIXP Association, said the Internet is a ‘network of networks’, currently comprising some 45,000 discrete networks. Mr. Brewer further stated that every microsecond, end-users are accessing; exchanging and receiving emails from distant lands or few miles away, transiting video on demand, enabling social media and voice.
“Behind all of these successful exchanges is a` network arch, a collection of commercial peering and transit agreements, put in place and signed by operators and service providers to bring this all together. In like manner, the way in which an IXP is managed can impact an entire region’s Internet economy.
For her part, Madam Angelique Weeks, Chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) thanked everyone, including all the services providers — Libtelco, Lonestar, Cellcom and Novafone — for working to together to reach this point.
She said discussions leading up yesterday’s commissioning ceremony had started in October, 2013.

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