What is UbuntuNet Alliance?
Historically, for various reasons, bandwidth to African Universities used to cost many times what Universities elsewhere paid. Over the last five years, a combination of factors has caused prices to drop from a typical $4,000 per half-duplex Mbps per month delivered via VSAT to a current $130 per full-duplex Mbps per month at UbuntuNet Alliance inland points of presence (POPs), delivered via optical fibre. The factors include: the work of the UbuntuNet Alliance in stimulating National Research and Education Network (NREN) activity along with lobbying, with others, for policy and regulatory changes to liberalise markets; economies of scale and increased negotiating ability resulting from consolidation of bandwidth needs in the research and education sector; the roll out of national optical fiber backbones and access to these by NRENs; the bringing of optical fiber owned by utilities on to the market; new procurement approaches brought on board by experienced organisations like DANTE2; and the direct support to NRENs by governments that now appreciate the research development dividend. Unfortunately, some of the NRENs, particularly those that are land-connected, have not yet benefited from the price drop because of limited competition in backhaul capacity and/or restrictive regulations in their countries or other countries that must be transited. The Alliance will not be satisfied until the prices paid are at par with the rest of the global research and education networking community, with a new target of $85 per Mbps per second at UbuntuNet Alliance inland POPs by the end of the 2014 – 2018 planning period. The UbuntuNet Alliance is driven by a vision of securing affordable high bandwidth connections (gigabits speeds) that interconnect African National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) regionally and globally, and to the Internet generally. The Alliance seeks equality, not just equity, for researchers and educators in Africa. As penetration and costs go down, the Alliance is giving increasing attention to collaboration with communities of practice and rolling out applications and services. This pamphlet gives information about the UbuntuNet Alliance as an organisation, describes progress towards achieving the organisational vision, and explains some of the strategies being followed.