Monday 21 February 2022

UIXP Expands Into Raxio, Google Joins the UIXP, Switch Platform Upgrade, and more!

Message from the Executive Director

2021 was a good year for the UIXP. New networks connected, traffic levels doubled, and we expanded into Raxio; Uganda’s first Tier-III carrier neutral data center. We added a new member to our team, received new equipment donations, and increased our community development work. Our infrastructure and financial position also remained stable thanks to the support of our growing community of peers.

However, this success wasn’t easy. Our industry collectively endured a lingering pandemic, an Internet shutdown, a Facebook ban, and the imposition of a new 12% excise tax which all continue to hinder growth. We estimate that the Facebook ban alone has depressed Uganda’s local Internet bandwidth production by 30% to date and project that this figure will grow over time until the ban is lifted.

Despite these challenges we are optimistic about the future. We anticipate significant growth in 2022 and believe Uganda now has the potential to evolve into a regional content and interconnection hub. This would generate significant benefits for our industry, our country, and our region, so we plan to work aggressively with our members, partners, and stakeholders to promote this outcome. 

I encourage you to read the full report below for more details and to let us know if you have any comments or questions. As always, we are grateful for everyone's support and we look forward to working together for the good of the Internet in 2022.

Kyle Spencer,
Executive Director

UIXP Expands into the Raxio Data Center in Namanve

The UIXP recently expanded its peering infrastructure into Raxio, Uganda’s first Tier-III carrier neutral data center, and signed Google (AS15169) as the first peer in this new location. When the inter-site link goes live, all networks will be able to peer with each other from either of our two points of presence.

This collaboration between the UIXP, Raxio, and Google marks a significant milestone in the development of Uganda’s Internet ecosystem. It significantly increases domestic bandwidth production capacity; makes large-scale enterprise, content, and cloud infrastructure deployments viable; and promotes regional network interconnection.

Google will peer multilaterally via the UIXP route servers. If your network is also peering via the route servers, it will start to exchange traffic with Google automatically once their service goes live. The amount of traffic could be substantial so you will need to ensure that your network has sufficient backbone and port capacity in order to avoid congestion. If necessary, operators can filter out AS15169 prefixes to divert this traffic until they are prepared to route it via the UIXP.

In order to promote new connections in Raxio, we are offering multiple discounts including a free cross-connect for all Raxio customers plus a 6-month 25% discount on all UIXP services at that location. If you would like to connect, upgrade your port, or learn more about our services, please contact us.

The Internet Society Donates New Switches & Servers

We recently upgraded our core switching infrastructure to an Arista platform that was generously donated by The Internet Society. These new switches support 100G interfaces, advanced automation, and deep buffers; all features that will become critical as we scale up our operations and face new challenges related to operating a multi-site IXP.

The Internet Society also donated two new Dell servers which have been deployed in Raxio as a virtualization cluster. Aside from hosting our operational software systems, these servers will enable us to offer new locally hosted services including software mirrors.

We are extremely grateful to The Internet Society for these donations and their long-standing support for IXP development in our region. We would not be where we are today without them.

Patience Nagaba Joins the Engineering Team

Patience Nagaba has volunteered to join our team as an Exchange Engineer. Patience is a Senior Network Engineer at the Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) and has volunteered at AfNOG. She also holds an MSc. Communication Engineering and Signal Processing from the University of Manchester and a BSc. Telecommunications Engineering from Makerere University.

As an Exchange Engineer, Patience helps manage our infrastructure and customer support requests. She has already made a number of significant contributions and we are grateful to have her on the team.

Community Development Updates

PeerFest: In October 2021 the UIXP and Raxio hosted the first annual PeerFest in order to promote awareness and collaboration among industry stakeholders. This Oktoberfest themed event included live entertainment; a delicious barbeque buffet; and speeches by James Byaruhanga (Raxio), Mike Barnard (UIXP), Kyle Spencer (UIXP), and Irene Kaggwa (UCC). For more details, check out PC Tech's coverage of the event.

UGNOG: The UIXP has agreed to facilitate donations for the Uganda Network Operators Group (UGNOG) until they can formalize and register a bank account. Any organizations that wish to sponsor UGNOG should notify us about incoming transfers by sending an e-mail to CC with the relevant details.

ISPAU & ICTAU: The UIXP is a member of both organizations and works through them to promote community development and good policy outcomes for our industry.

AFIX, AfPIF, & AFNOG: Our team is voluntarily involved in various leadership and support roles in the African IXP Association (AFIX), the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), and the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG).

Infrastructure & Stability Report

The UIXP remained stable in 2021 though we experienced a few flaps which were generally the result of human action. Our Communications House power backup system remains reliable and our air conditioning system has kept the room cool despite occasional maintenance needs.

Our IP transit had some stability issues in 2021 and we are upgrading to a multi-homed configuration in order to address that. This project required the deployment of new routers because our old routers did not support 32bit ASNs and upgrading the OS was problematic.

In the near future there may be some brief service outages related to our multi-site expansion though we hope to keep this to a minimum. Our inter-site fibre link may also experience brief outages until we can afford to upgrade to a protected circuit.

As always, we will do our best to provide advance notice for any foreseeable outages via the members-only mailing list. If you are not a member of this mailing list and would like to be, please contact us.

Financial Sustainability

The UIXP’s cash reserves remain intact and we ended the year with a small budget surplus thanks to reliable payments from our growing community of peers. We note that UTL, URA, and Smile are now the only non-free-tier networks that still do not contribute port fees.

Looking forward, we anticipate income growth from new ports and capacity upgrades related to our multi-site expansion. While this growth will be at least partially offset by new expenses for the same, we are optimistic that we will end the year with another surplus.

We remain in good standing with URA despite the burdens of EFRIS and a frequent need for reconciliation due to our cash based reporting method.

Government Relations

We enjoy an amicable relationship with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) under Irene Kaggwa’s leadership. We increasingly engage via events and regulatory development processes. Going forward we aim to enhance our collaboration in order to promote Uganda’s evolution into a competitive regional content and interconnection hub.