New Tier 1 Points of Presence in West Africa are expected to bring wholesale prices for Internet access down and spark new mobile services in the region.

The latest PoP to be launched is a very large capacity gateway built and managed by France-based Orange, and started operations in Cote d'Ivoire earlier this month.

"Local operators will be able to offer mobile data services in 3G and, when it's available, 4G," according to Tom Wright, a spokesman for France-based Orange, which built and is running the PoP.

An IP PoP is part of the technical infrastructure equipment necessary to enable local networks to access the Internet through an interconnection point with long-distance carrier networks.

The new facility will open up the region and allow Orange to offer high quality and secure connections over the wholesale market to West African countries, the company said. Services "will be available to both private and government institutions in all West African countries" including countries where Orange is not operating presently, Wright said in email.

When connected to this large-capacity PoP, wholesale customers, regional operators and ISPs (Internet service providers) will benefit from cost-effective connections to a Tier 1 operator, including access to all international Internet route, Wright noted.

The Orange IP PoP launch came in the wake of a similar effort in the region last month when the international services arm of Telecom Italia Group, TI Sparkle, partnered with Dolphin Telecom to provide and develop IP connectivity services in West Africa from a Tier 1 PoP in Accra, Ghana. The PoP is designed to enable ISPs and service providers access to major international cable systems.

This activity in the region is seemingly a testament to Cisco's claim last month when it launched its Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Forecast and Service Adoption report for 2013 to 2018, in which it forecast that the global IP traffic would increase nearly three-fold over the next four years. Cisco urged providers in the Middle East and Africa to be prepared, as the region would continue to be the fastest growing IP traffic region in the world, with five-fold growth in the period under review.