Content nodes accelerate Africa's Internet [ITWeb]
(ITWeb Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) African Internet users are starting to enjoy the benefits of faster access to key Web resources, as well as lower latencies, as telecom providers step up the roll-out of content delivery networks (CDNs).
So says Mark Tinka, head of engineering at African subsea cable operator Seacom, who reports that the next phase in the development of Africa's Internet infrastructure will see more content and services brought closer to end-users. This, in turn, will spur growth in demand for these services, he argues.
He notes that about 90% of Africa Internet content is hosted outside the continent and that Seacom would like to see the figure reversed to favour Africa.
"Over the past six years, we have seen a great deal of activity in Africa's telecom market as providers have invested in infrastructure such as carrier-neutral data centres, open peering Internet exchange points, submarine cables, national and regional fibre links," says Tinka.
According to Tinka, CDNs such as Level 3, CDNetworks and Google global cache, deploy content and caching nodes that store copies of popular Web sites and content. The result is that the content can be brought closer to the end-user and this is great news for African consumers who want better performance when accessing Web applications, services and content.
He states that CDNs accelerate and optimise file downloads, video and music playback, software updates and other Web content requested for by operators and Internet service providers connected to a telecom network. For end-users, this translates into lower latency, faster speeds and more reliable service when accessing popular Web services and content from around the world.
He argues that CDNs will make it more viable for African content owners to host their content within the continent.
"Many content owners currently host their content in Europe or the US because regional links between many African countries are of relatively poor quality. Now they can bring it back to Africa."
"A South African content provider could host its content locally and allow it to be cached on a CDN node in Uganda to provide east African users with faster access. This is a major boost for African Internet users and content producers, and will improve the end-user experience," he explains.
There will be a marked increase in performance of African Web sites for users who access them from countries outside the ones where they are hosted. This will support the many organisations striving to roll out services such as e-learning, e-health, entertainment, and more, for a pan-African audience, concludes Tinka.
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