Botswana Internet Exchange

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The Botswana Internet Exchange was established in October 2005 by 8 ISPs. This allows them to peer, which circumvents the costly earlier intercommunication arrangements. This is a major milestone in the development of Internet services in Botswana, as it will improve quality of service and stimulate the growth of local content and Internet usage in the country. Internet Service Providers Association (BISPA) Secretary, Katlego Nkwe, says that the Botswana Internet Exchange (BINX) should help the country develop in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector and assist in bridging the digital divide between first and third world countries.

Nkwe explained that with BINX fully developed and in the latter stages of testing, Botswana websites would be able to communicate between each other more efficiently, as the speed of access will be greatly improved. The Exchange has been set up by the BISPA, which is made up of eight local ISPs and the government’s Department of Information Technology (DIT). “The ISPs have contributed the funds to build the Exchange and each of the members has made its link to BINX. Some have made wireless connections, while others have opted to use Botswana Telecommunications Corporation’s (BTC) terrestrial links,” she said.

“This will make websites being hosted in Botswana much faster to load as information would no longer need to travel to different nodes in overseas countries anymore. The local web traffic stays in the country.” It is hoped that with BINX now in place, e-commerce sites will be stimulated, as the quality of the ISPs service will be highly improved.” For example Internet Banking, if hosted in Botswana, would become much faster,” she explained. The exchange is based at the Global Bytes Group’s premises - one of the BISPA members. There is still the need to bridge the rural-urban digital divide in Botswana and make information technology more accessible and useful for the people in the remote areas of the country. “Some of the challenges still to be overcome are of infrastructure, power availability, and BTC’s prohibitive tariffs,” she said.

The next step is to enhance regional communication by setting up an Internet Exchange for SADC countries. The Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) hosted the workshop and the second and last phase of WSIS will be held in Tunis, Tunisia in November. BINX Members currently comprise the following:

Botsnet
Broadband Botswana Internet
Department of Information Technology (GoB)
Bytes Technology Group
Global Broadband Solutions
Mascom Wireless
Microtek
OPQNet
VBN Services
Verizonbusiness