Using NREN capacities to extend and enhance UbuntuNet
Martin, Duncan H
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As the regional REN for Eastern and Southern Africa, the primary purpose of the UbuntuNet Alliance is to provide its member NRENs with regional and global interconnectivity with other NRENs and with the Internet generally. However, fulfilment of the task can be greatly facilitated and its cost significantly reduced if the member NRENs, each within its own country, provide network capacities and services to the Alliance. Although this insight is present in the “patchwork backbone”concept that can be found in early strategy documents of the Alliance, its first practical realisation is the connection of the Zambian NREN, ZAMREN, to the UbuntuNet network not in London, but in South Africa. The paper tells how ZAMREN connects to UbuntuNet and uses this as an example to explore and illustrate three of four ways in which NRENs can extend the reach and enhance the effectiveness of the UbuntuNet Network. These three have NRENs providing capacities of different sorts within their local infrastructures for use as part of the UbuntuNet network. The fourth has NRENs arranging UbuntuNet’s peering interconnections with local commodity networks in their countries. The UbuntuNet Alliance is willing to contract formally with NRENs for the provision of such services at specified service levels and to pay for such services at negotiated rates that compensate the NREN for any additional costs incurred or that are based on the cost-recovering service charges that the NREN’s own member institutions pay.