What is an Internet exchange point ?
An Internet Exchange Point is basically a busy bus station where all of the island internet traffic meets. I have a friend who lives in Mont Roches, and he lives very close by. We often play Counter Strike or other games. He could be an Emtel customer, whereas I am an Orange customer. It makes no sense for his gaming session to go through Europe or the US, when he is playing against myself. The same goes for me. The Mauritius Internet Exchange Point is where my traffic and his internet traffic can meet other. Instead of going through Europe, his ISP can talk to my ISP through the Internet Exchange Point. The advantage of doing that for Internet Users is that the latency is reduced. The time it takes for his internet traffic to reach my computer is reduced. At least that's how it's supposed to be.
A few weeks ago ...
While doing a latency test from Emtel to Orange, I realised that the latency was almost 350 ms . That's huge for traffic which is supposed to be managed by the Mauritius Internet Exchange Point. In countries like Kenya, The Kenyan Internet Exchange Point can reduce latencies among local ISP to 2-10 ms . 350ms is the latency I usually get from gaming servers in Europe.
I send a mail
Being curious, I write a mail, and I get a reply from one of the members of the Mauritius Internet Exchange Point Association, asking for more technical details.
A few days later ...
I do the same test from Emtel to Orange, and I get 78ms as latency ! That's cut almost to one third. That's reasonable, but in my humble opinion, if Kenyan Internet Exchange Point can get 2-10ms, why can't we get that ? What is the advantage of a very low latency in Mauritius ? Well, we can get fluid experience for gamers hosting Local matches. We can get our viber/whatsapp for people who do voice calls. Below 50ms, Interesting mobile applications for the Mauritian market can hatch. Right now, the voice quality of viber calls is horrible in Mauritius. If we had a local viber node, and latency of around 20ms, we would get great experience talking to another Mauritian on the island.
I sincerely hope that the Mauritius Internet Exchange Point fixes the latency issue. 78 ms is still quite high for Local Internet Traffic between ISPs , where other countries are reaching 2-10ms between ISPs. I'm positive that my dream of improving the Internet in Mauritius is slowly coming reality as many gamers are currently getting better latencies from Emtel Airtel to Orange FTTH, and vice-versa. We can still do better !