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The cost for Internet access differs significantly from one country to another. Take for instance the price for 1Mbps: it can cost $250 in Togo (TogoTelecom), and $445 in Niger (Orange Niger), but it can cost only $25 for an 8Mbps connection in France (Orange).
I’m citing a few examples from many, which Nnenna Nwakanma referred to during our IG webinar last week. Ms Nwakanma, council chair of FOSSFA, convener of the West Africa IGF, and director at Nnenna.Org, was the special host of our July webinar on ‘Cable connections and the cost of Internet access.’
It seems like the poorer the country, the higher the cost, Ms Nwakanma explained, referring to various reasons which typically lead to high costs.
Access fees paid by end-users cover a range of expenses and overheads, including the cost of bringing the cable inland, electricity, taxes, investment costs, and high prices due to a monopolistic environment, and/or low quality of service.
The existence of transit and peering agreements, which Ms Nwakanma explained in the light of a typical interconnection model made up of Tier 1, 2, and 3 networks, also affect access costs. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) – which allow exchange of traffic at country level – also have a significant impact on both access costs and speed.
Costs related to the ‘last mile’ (or ‘local loop’ – the connection between the provider and the end-user) may be significant; at the same time, various solutions exist (such as wireless connections) which help solve access issues, even though the solutions may not necessarily come cheaper.
Issues related to access, including costs, are not ‘straightjacket’ situations, as Ms Nwakanma refers to them. Rather, there are many complex factors that come into play. Whether or not we can influence decisions directly, the least we can do is to become aware of them, and ask questions like: Are there any IXPs in my country? Are there any peering agreements? What am I really paying for through my connection bill?
You can listen to a live recording of the webinar (click below), in which our host discusses the issues in more detail, as well as many questions asked by the webinar participants. The questions that are discussed include: What are the connectivity solutions for island states? If users use services located in other countries (Facebook, Google), would such traffic still be exchanged by local IXPs? Whom can end-users turn to in order to apply pressure for reductions in costs? You can also download the PowerPoint Presentation here. To receive news, announcements and follow-up e-mails regarding our IG webinars, subscribe to our IG webinars group.