Monday 12 October 2020

New Local CDN, 13 Gbps of Traffic, 100.000% Annual Uptime, EFRIS Concerns, and Other Updates

New Peer: Al Bayan Media
The UIXP would like to welcome Al Bayan Media to the exchange! Al Bayan is a locally owned IPTV provider. They are peering publicly via our route servers in order to deliver a high quality service to their customers across all networks in Uganda. If your network is also peering with our route servers, it should already be exchanging traffic with Al Bayan.

If you would like to establish a bilateral session or market Al Bayan’s IPTV service to your customers in order to promote utilization of local traffic, please let us know and we will arrange an introduction.

Peak Traffic Level: 13 Gbps

The UIXP’s traffic has returned to growth following a brief reduction caused by the strict COVID-19 lockdown measures imposed earlier this year. Our daily peak traffic level now exceeds 13 Gbps during some weekdays as can be seen in the graph above.

Annual Uptime: 100.000%
The UIXP recently achieved an annual up-time of 100.000%. This is an improvement over our previous record of 99.994% which was achieved in March. Reliability is a critical growth enabler for the UIXP so we aim to maintain a similarly high level of availability going forward.

This milestone is the result of equipment upgrades that were made possible by our port-fee based sustainability model and we are grateful to everyone who supported its implementation.

IPv6 Peering Reminder
We would like to remind everyone that the UIXP supports IPv6 peering. At the moment, only four out of the twenty six networks that peer with our route servers use IPv6 and we would like to increase this number. We will reach out to some of you directly in the coming months in order to encourage adoption, but if you would like to proactively enable this for your network, please let us know and we will gladly assist.

Conrad Ekisa Moves to Ireland

Conrad Ekisa

Conrad Ekisa, one of our esteemed engineers, has left Uganda for some post-graduate research in Ireland. He’s still part of our team but will transition to a more limited remote support role in order to focus on his studies.

Contrad has made very significant contributions to the UIXP that greatly improved our quality of service, customer experience, and internal organisation. We are sad to see him go but we know that he’s destined for great things and wish him well on the journey ahead.

Internal System Upgrades

We recently upgraded our hypervisor cluster to the latest version of its software in order to take advantage of new features, stability improvements, and security updates. We have also made a few other changes to our network and systems that should significantly improve the overall security of our infrastructure.

Looking forward, we are exploring a potential deployment of an open-source ERP system in order to automate more of our invoicing and accounting processes. We also aim to upgrade our core exchange management system in order to take advantage of new features that are available in the latest release. We’ll share more information about this as we progress.

Raxio Expansion: Latest News
Earlier this year we signed a deal to extend our peering network into Raxio’s carrier neutral data centre in Namanve. This will allow us to attract new peers, provide redundancy for the networks that rely on us, and facilitate large-scale content and cloud deployments in Uganda.

As a reminder, we plan to deploy a fully independent IXP node at Raxio and interconnect it with our existing node at Communications House. This will allow us to offer a unified peering LAN that spans both locations. Network operators will be free to peer at either, or both, as needed.

After consulting with other IXPs, we have decided to prioritise Arista’s switching platform for the new site due to its deep buffers and support for advanced automation through an integration with our existing exchange management system. ISOC has generously agreed to sponsor this procurement and we are working to negotiate an order through Arista’s authorized local supplier.

We have also reached a tentative agreement for a dark fibre link between the two sites. This will require us to pay a monthly fee, but we have negotiated a discounted rate and are confident that we can afford the cost so long as collections remain consistent. We plan to finalize and execute the contract for this once we get closer to deployment.

URA: Concerns About EFRIS
We continue to remain in good standing with URA despite the issues reported in our previous newsletter. Following a brief dialogue with their officers, they informally stopped imposing penalties on us for using a cash based reporting method. We do not know how long this reprieve will last, but we’re grateful for URA’s apparent accommodation.

However, we have serious concerns related to the upcoming implementation of EFRIS, a centralized online accounting system which all companies operating in Uganda will be required to use for invoicing and payments. In order to use the system, every company in Uganda will be required to import and maintain its list of materials, products, and services along with all associated pricing information. To learn more about EFRIS, see here:

In order to comply, the UIXP will either be forced to (a) duplicate all invoicing and accounting work or (b) migrate to an alternative accounting system which can integrate with EFRIS via an API which would undoubtedly come at a cost.

We are also concerned that EFRIS will create a single point of failure for the national economy, dramatically increase the burden of tax compliance, and potentially expose sensitive information to the database operators and others who might inappropriately gain access to the system.

The deadline for implementation was July 1, 2020 but has been extended to January 1st, 2021 following complaints from the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) and others.

Payments & Collections
Collections have generally been good although we did experience some delays during Q2 and Q3 as COVID significantly disrupted the income and working conditions for a number of network operators in our market. Once again, we thank everyone for the continued support!

Community Engagement
We remain committed to community development despite the limitations imposed by COVID. Members of our team have both organised and spoken at a number of virtual events this year including AfPIF’s Virtual Peering Series. We will also be speaking at the upcoming Uganda Network Operators Group (UGNOG) launch event. In addition, we recently made a donation to the ISP Association of Uganda (ISPAU) in order to support their industry development efforts.

That’s all for now. If you have any questions, please contact us.