Tired of waiting for video services to load? So, apparently, are the powers that be at ShowMax, which has just announced that it is inviting ISPs to peer directly with its services via the Teraco-owned NAPAfrica exchange in Isando, in a bid to reduce buffering times and speed up access to its services.
With the video-on-demand service now available in 65 countries ShowMax is now faced with something more pressing than getting its hands on the latest movies and series: maintaining the integrity of its network.
“Streaming video over the internet isn’t difficult, but maintaining a consistently high quality service can be,” ShowMax head of distribution, Mike Raath said in a statement.
To this end, the video service has announced it will joining NAPAfrica – the internet exchange where most of the major ISPs and networks in South Africa also have a point of presence and connect to the outside world. Directly connecting to, say, Telkom’s network via NAPAfrica would in effect give the telco’s customers faster access to the ShowMax library and is simple to do if they’re already part of the NAPAfrica family – a simple request via email gets and ISP access.
“Given the increasing traffic volumes, this peering agreement is coming at exactly the right time to help us continue to deliver the best possible video quality,” continued Raath. “ISPs should also benefit from this move through reduced transit costs.”
One question this news raised for me: South Africa’s new national integrated ICT policy, unveiled a few weeks ago, mandates net neutrality for South African internet operator. Net neutrality is the guarantee of equal treatment for all traffic on your network, and is mandated to prevent anti-competitive behviour – in other words, one service can’t buy a faster connection to an ISP’s customers than its rivals are able to, ensuring that newcomers to a market compete on an even field. The net neutrality debate is relatively immature here, but there have been questions raised internationally as to whether or not peering should be covered by net neutrality rules (although it would be difficult to implement without breaking the internet).