Kenya's Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) recorded its highest ever traffic exchange last Friday, at 1 gigabit per second. The exchange point is a set up where ISPs and major content providers in Kenya bring their equipment and links and exchange Internet traffic between each other for free.
This means that traffic coming from one ISP to another or to an institution like Kenya Revenue Authority passes through the exchange point onto the second network. Previously, such traffic would have travelled via an overseas connection to a point where the two ISPs 'meet' where the exchange would have taken place, costing both parties more in paying for international capacity and transit. The local exchange thus helps cut such costs. ISPs and other parties peering at the exchange pay a monthly fee and place their equipment in the facility to do so.According to KIXP Chief Technology Officer Michuki Mwangiu, traffic exchanged at KIXP has been growing at a pace of 100% for the last 7 years with growth peaking at between 150% to 300% in the last 3 years. This has put KIXP amongst the world's fastest growing Internet exchange points. The recent growth of traffic exchange has been attributed to Google who recently set up a global cache at Kenya Data Networks. This means that popular content on Google servers, such as a popular YouTube video or static Gmail files that are accessed frequently by many users have copies stored at servers in KDN. Subsequent requests for such files get served the locally stored copies hence making it faster. It also becomes cheaper for ISPs as they save in international capacity and transit costs.
Michuki says that prior to Google Cache KIXP had an average of 120Mbps of traffic at the exchange. Google has indicated plans to establish a point of presence (PoP) in Mombasa that will see Google paying and carrying all traffic served and requested from it's servers to Mombasa where it will be exchanged at no cost with regional ISPs. Google is estimated to account for at least 6% of all Internet traffic.
KIXP last year launched Kenya's second IXP at Mombasa with the aim of exchanging regional traffic and traffic between the three submarine cables that land at Mombasa.Growth of KIXP though still faces challenges with major local content producers hosting the content abroad, including the recently launched Government Open Data. This has been attributed to competitive hosting facilities elsewhere. Another major challenge has been existence of English content in other countries and few world traffic carriers peering in the region.