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Thursday, November 01, 2007

NIXP berates InterStella on N10bn claim

The Nigeria Internet Exchange Point (NIXP) Limited, has berated Interstella Communications Limited, for claiming over N10 billion from the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other government agencies over an alleged breach of service exclusivity granted it.

Reacting to the claim, which was awash in the media at the weekend, the management of NIXP, the current managers of the nation’s Internet Exchange Point (IXP), described the claim as voracious.

Champion Infotel calls to mind that recently Interstella took NCC and other government agencies to court including the Ministry of Science and Technology, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Galaxy Backbone Plc, claiming N10 billion over alleged breach of service exclusivity granted earlier.

Interstella led by Mr. Obi Thomson is also combating the setting up of the Nigeria Internet Exchange Point (NIXP), a government-backed initiative to keep internet local internet traffic within the country, contending that its formation by NCC breaches service exclusivity provision of license granted Interstella by the regulator.

However, the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) was equally reported to have commenced intervention process to broker peace in the dispute over control of Nigeria ‘s Internet space.

Irked by the claim, NIXP management in a rejoinder made available to Champion Infotel stated that the amount of money claimed by InterStella to have spent so far on infrastructure was quite a huge sum compared to the cost of even setting up any IXP in the world.

According to the rejoinder endorsed by NIXP chairman, Mr. Chima Apugo Onyekwere and the Managing Director, Mr. Muhammed Rudman, considering the fact that IXPs do not have sophisticated equipment in conducting the business of exchange point, but a layer of two devices that intern connects Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other telecommunications operators, hence the claim was totally unacceptable.

“ … The amount of money they claimed to have spent so far on infrastructure was quite a huge compared to the cost of setting any IXP in the world, considering that IXPs do not have sophisticated equipment, but rather a layer 2 device that interconnects ISP and other telecom operators, thereby making their claim totally absurd,” they said.

In addition, NIXP also noted with interest that an ISP, which commenced business just 10 years ago in 1996, with live Internet Protocol (IP) connections and legally licensed to carry Internet traffic, would find Interstella position ridiculous.

“This is so, as they had to use a gateway to communicate between networks and their customers. Is the gateway (Interstella) is proposing different from that obtained then? Where was Interstella when NITEL operated the exclusive gateways in the country?” they wondered.

Equally NIXP wondered what became the state of all the equipments deployed with government funding through NITEL amounting to several hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Maybe government should also sell, the SAT 3 from Transcorp to this group as this fibre connection forms part of the Gateway they referred to. Is the Gateway (Thompson) is proposing any thing different from an IP pipe into the international community?” NIXP further wondered.

Explaining further the essence of NCC setting up NIXP following a former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s participation at the World Summit on the Information Society (WISIS) held in Tunisia in 2005, pointed out that today the agenda is to reduce the price of bandwidth, so it could be more affordable and not to have companies seeking to hide under an exclusive positions at the detriment of developing a holistic Internet community for the populace.

“An issue that NCC has tried to address by such initiatives as helping funding Internet Exchanges to enable our local traffic remain local while promoting the use and commercialisation of huge communication tool that will enhance the life our people,” NIXP said.

They further submitted that going by the comments made by Interstella, it means that the present advancements in the banking sector is bound to fail, as the company would control IP allocation and deployment, stressing that this cannot be allowed to happen, especially now that the country is in a democratic dispensation.

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