The Mauritian government plans to unveil a new internet exchange point in the island’s premier technology hub to help bring faster web-surfing and e-commerce infrastructure to the public and businesses, it was reported today in the French-language newspaper L’Express.
The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tassarajen Pillay-Chedumbrum announced that Mauritian ISPs (internet service providers) such as Orange Mauritius/Mauritius Telecom and Bharat Telecom, will possibly be able to connect a local exchange point into their service networks to bring about faster speeds and download times for their Mauritian customers. A current point exists, but the newer version will be a faster and more developed service being offered to all the country’s internet providers on a mutual shared basis.
A information technology complex in Ebene’s CyberCity.
The exchange point will be a piece of switchboard-based IT infrastructure that connects the networks of different operators in a technologically mutual effort to rapidly increase broadband speeds on the island. The point will also be a cost-saving exercise that will benefit ISPs, as they will be able to exchange traffic to relieve their networks, thereby slashing the average amount of expenses incurred for each provider. It will also lessen the country’s dependence on costly international satellite and fibre-optic networks. The point will give equal priority to all Mauritius-based ISPs with a lack of traffic hegemony or filtering rules to hinder that objective.
The current exchange point technology is a ‘layer-two Internet exchange’ operating over Ethernet, which means that participants exchange traffic via an Ethernet switch without any settlements, according to the government ministry in charge of the original internet exchange point. It has not yet been publicly announced what the new point’s exact hardware and operational specifics will be.
In order to begin building up an internet exchange point (IXP) especially for Mauritius, the ministry will organise a workshop in partnership with the African Union Commission. This was announced yesterday (Monday 25 August) by ministry representatives at the Cyber Tower in Ebène, the heart of Mauritius’ steadily growing IT industry. The workshop hopes to train up a new generation of Mauritian IT technicians with the requisite skills to lay the foundation of the improved island-wide IXP.
“If we can have a local Internet exchange point, this will allow us to minimise the cost. We will not have to pay international fees. In addition, the Internet will be faster, “said Pillay-Chedumbrum.
The exchange point, known officially as MIXP, has already had a web presence established as the groundwork starts up. The MIXP website describes the service as “the professional, neutral Internet exchange that leads the way in global peering services enabling the savings of precious International bandwidth in Mauritius“. A previous incarnation has been in existence since June 2006, but with fewer capabilities.
Telecommunications have had a long history in Mauritius. The first telephone line was installed in 1883, only seven years after the original device was said to have been invented by Scot Alexander Graham Bell. ICT services also took off early on the island, with the establishment of a governmental National Computer Board (NCB) in 1988 to advise the island’s parliament on the formulation of national policies for the development of the IT sector and promotion of technology culture in Mauritius. The following year, the Central Informatics Bureau (CIB) was organised to encourage increased computerisation of civil service records. Since then, Mauritius has become an important centre for IT-related activities in the Indian Ocean and the African continent, with numerous national and international ICT firms setting up shop in the CyberCity park in the town of Ebène, which is south of the Mauritian capital Port Louis.
The new MIXP forms part of the Mauritian government’s ambition to continually raise the standard of corporate and public ICT services on the island. Ministers are aiming to make the ICT sector the ‘fifth pillar’ of the Mauritian economy, after tourism, agriculture and finance, and envisioned transforming Mauritius into a ‘cyber island’.