Forum: PH Internet Exchange, IP peering key tools in speeding up Internet

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By Chloe Cabrera Industry experts have stressed that Internet Protocol (IP) peering and Internet Exchange (IX) remain important tools in making local Internet services both faster and cheaper. [caption id="attachment_19258" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Bani Lara of DOST-ASTI and PHOpenIX speaking during the forum  Bani Lara of DOST-ASTI and PHOpenIX speaking during the forum [/caption] This was the assessment reached in a forum on the Philippine Open Internet Exchange (PHOpenIX) last Friday, June 27, at the ICT Office in Quezon City. Organized by the DOST?s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and Philippine Network Operators Group (PHNOG), the event brought together various stakeholders to discuss local Internet services, IP peering, and DOST?s PHOpenIX, the country?s only third-party Internet exchange. According to Monopod CEO Rhett Jones, the Philippines currently has an average Internet speed of around 3.4 Mega bits per second (Mbps). Based on this data, Internet speed monitor Ookla currently ranks the country in the bottom 6 percent of the world in terms of Internet quality and in the bottom 4 percent when it comes to speed. Despite the poor service quality, Jones said the country is among the top 1 percent of the world in terms of Internet cost, with an average price of about $23.49 per Mbps. Independent ICT policy researcher Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos also revealed during the forum that the actual Internet speed of local ISPs is around 80-90 percent lower than their advertised speed, making local Internet service providers (ISPs) the worst performing in terms of value for money when compared with some other South Asia and South East Asia ISPs. ?Based on the result [data], 21.7 percent is the highest level that the relatively best-performing ISP was able to achieve in terms of actual versus advertised speed,? said Santos. ?The recommended reliability in terms of meeting the advertised speed is 80 percent for the Philippines.? To help solve some of the Internet service issues, the forum highlighted a solution that remains a controversial topic in the Philippine ICT sphere ? IP peering and Internet exchange. Simply put, IP peering allows networks to exchange traffic with each other freely by creating an interconnection between ISPs. Such a connection would allow subscribers and applications of ISPs to pass through a shared domestic Internet exchange point, resulting in improved performance and greater traffic capacity. IP peering would allow most of a users? data traffic to remain domestic. Nowadays, only about 20 percent of the country?s Internet traffic is domestic, while around 70 percent has to be routed from its local destination to places like Hong Kong or the United States before being sent back to the Philippines, resulting in slower loading speeds. As of now, ISPs are divided on the issue. While Globe Telecom supports the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)?s stance that a mandatory IP peering among network carriers should be put in place to improve Internet services, PLDT has a different take on the matter. In 2011, the dominant carrier rejected the NTC?s draft memorandum circular requiring ISPs to connect with the DOST?s IP exchange, arguing that the lack of rigorous arrangements for IP peering could hamper Internet services. Another major objection to this solution is that mandatory IP peering could provide an unfair advantage to smaller ISPs by giving them the ability to ?free ride? on larger companies? networks and share their overseas backhaul. However, as emphasized by DOST-ASTI and PHOpenIX?s Bani Lara during the forum, connecting to a peering exchange does not mean the companies share the same international backhaul. All ISPs are and will still be responsible for their own routing and security, he said. According to Lara, local Internet connectivity, speed, and value for money will improve if peers connect and route their traffic to PHOpenIX. IP peering could also encourage local content, including e-commerce websites, news portals, and other Philippine-based websites. Lara said PHOpenIX reached a tipping point in its growth in late 2013, peering with enough members to gain momentum and recognition from local networks operating within the country. No IP peering policy has yet been established by the NTC. However, the commission did cite in a recent Senate hearing that the lack of IP peering among local ISPs is a factor behind the country?s slow Internet speeds.]]>

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