Thursday 1 August 2019

New Networks, New Team Members, Healthy Finances, and Improved Stability

This is a report on the UIXP’s status, progress, and other activities that took place during Q2 2019. We typically only send quarterly updates to the networks which use our infrastructure, but lot has happened in the last three months so we thought it would be prudent to share this one publicly.

27 networks currently exchange 8Gbps of peak daily traffic

New Members
We’re happy to announce that Facebook (AS63293) and Blue Crane Communications (AS328198) are now connected to the UIXP, bringing our total membership to 27 networks. Blue Crane is peering multilaterally via the route servers, but Facebook is not. If you would like to connect to their cache, please send us a message and we will facilitate an introduction. We may also reach out to you directly in order to encourage the same.

Staffing Changes
We’re sad to announce the looming departure of Diarmuid O’Briain as our Technical Operations Manager. Diarmuid has a relentless passion for his craft, and his contributions to the UIXP were both numerous and significant. His legacy will remain, though he will be missed, and we wish him well in all of his future endeavours.

Diarmuid is survived by Brian Masiga and Conrad Ekisa, the newest member of our engineering team. Conrad has a BSc in Telecommunications Engineering and was employed as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) at netLabs!UG Research Centre last year. During this time, Conrad qualified as Uganda's first MikroTik Certified consultant and academy trainer. In 2019 he was promoted to Graduate Researcher and led the internship programme for the year. Together with Brian, he will help manage our infrastructure and handle your technical support requests. Please give him a warm welcome!

Diarmuid O'Briain

Conrad Ekisa
We’re happy to report a substantial increase in the number of paying networks, and that payments have become more consistent overall. However, there are still a few legacy networks which have not joined our sustainability programme despite our best efforts to encourage them, and we will soon start migrating these networks to our free service tier in the interest of fairness.

Cash Reserves
If all goes well, we will have established cash reserves of USD $75,000 by the end of this year thanks, in part, to a generous three year pre-payment by one of our new members. We plan to sustain that amount or more indefinitely.

We have started to pay our two IXP Engineers a $100/mo volunteer stipend in order to cover the various expenses associated with their work. These stipends are paid quarterly in order to minimize our administrative overhead. Note that we have not yet implemented remuneration for any other positions in order to prioritize other expenses and the development of cash reserves.

We continue to remain in good-standing with URA thanks to support from our tax consultant. In light of his consistently good performance, we have started to pay his fees on a quarterly basis in order to minimize our administrative overhead.

We still do not have a UGX bank account because opening one would incur an additional monthly charge (in addition to our USD account which costs approximately $12/mo). We currently do few UGX transactions per month beyond URA payments and occasional cash purchases, so it’s cheaper for us to convert USD to UGX when these needs arise. If the volume of UGX transactions increases in the future, we will reconsider our options.

We are recording all income and expenses in our accounting system, and we digitally archive all cheques and receipts for auditing purposes. However, we have not been logging URA payments in our accounting system as it’s not a straightforward process. As a result, the account balance in our system does not match the amount in our actual bank account. We are working to figure out the best way to resolve this issue systematically going forward.

Power Infrastructure
Our new inverter system is still working well. We have experienced no related downtime since its deployment, save for a building outage that exceeded the 12 hour runtime of our battery bank.

Air Conditioning
Our air conditioning system has been keeping things cool since we took over its management from the UCC following a series of extended outages. However, there have been a few reliability issues with one of the two new units we purchased which we’re still working with the service provider to resolve. Meanwhile, the new Raspberry Pi temperature monitor is working well and its automated alerts helped us avoid multiple heat related outages during the transition.

Community Engagement
We recently sponsored the Welcome Reception at The African Internet Summit (AIS) that took place in Kampala in June. We were happy to see many of you there and hope you enjoyed it. We also recently joined the ICT Association of Uganda and look forward to supporting their efforts to promote effective government policy.

Government Relations
As many of you are aware, Uganda’s telecommunications industry is facing an increasing number of regulatory challenges, and the UCC’s recent IXP licensing proposal is no exception. It took a significant amount of time and energy to organize the necessary local, regional, and global response to this proposal and we thank all who supported our cause. We will update you if and when we receive any feedback from the UCC.

For background and more information about this issue, please read our company blog post on the matter:

Governance Reform
We still have not received any feedback on the draft constitution that we proposed to the community in 2015 and again, in updated form, in 2018.

If you are interested in governance reform, please review this draft and submit feedback (or forward it to your legal teams for the same) so that we can move the process forward. A copy of the latest draft proposal and a summary document can be found here:

That’s all for now. If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.