Ghana Network Update
Time 07/12/11 10:40AM-11:00AM
This update will talk about:
- Submarine fiber cable landing and prices
- National fiber backbone - NCBC
- eGovernment project by NITA
Submarine fiber cable landing and prices
Until July, 2010, SAT3 was the only submarine fiber optic cable that landed in Ghana. It was being managed by the Ghana Telecommunications Company which later became Vodafone Ghana. There was monopoly so prices were high.
In July 2010, Main One commissioned its cable landing in Ghana (Myjoyonline, 2010). In May, 2011, Main One and SEACOM interconnected they systems in Europe to allow them have wider coverage in Africa. SEACOM had already connected many East and Southern African countries including South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Djibouti and Ethiopia while Main One had the West African countries covered (Ghanaweb, 2011).
Glo-1 went live in Ghana in April, 2011 (Ghanaweb2, 2011).
The West Africa Cable System which will connect Ghana and 11 other African countries to Europe landed in Ghana in May, 2011. It is expected to start passing commercial traffic early 2012 and it is predicted that its entrance has the potential to slash broadband costs in the country by a third (Ghananewsagency, 2011).
In September, 2010, the National Communication Backbone Company (NCBC) reduced the wholesale prices at which it was selling international and national bandwidth capacity to ISPs by half. This price cut was a result of the entrance of other international bandwidth providers into the Ghanaian market. The drop is from US$4,500 to US$2,100 for 2Mbps of international bandwidth.
The reduction followed an announcement by Main One Cable that it was selling the same capacity for US$ 1,050 (Telecompaper, 2010).
The National Communications Backbone Company (NCBC) is 100% owned by Vodafone Ghana. NCBC is the wholesale arm of VF Ghana and positioned as the access provider of choice enabling the businesses of Licensed ISPs in Ghana.
NCBC's main objectives are:
- Promote socio-economic development
- Provide high quality and competitively priced services to ISPs and Operators
- Provide high capacity bandwidth to the hinterlands and under-served regions of Ghana
- Facilitate international connectivity
In November 2008, Parliament approved a $30 million concessionary loan facility that has been extended to the government of Ghana by the government of China for the construction of the initial phase of a nationwide e-Government infrastructure for Ghana. The proposed infrastructure would extend the national backbone infrastructure to all districts in the country and provide a national data centre and a secondary data centre facility for disaster recovery capability, and ultimately connect all public institutions to a single shared communications and computing infrastructure to facilitate effective delivery of government services to citizens, businesses and others.
The network is configured to reach up to 1050 sites around the country; 550 locations via wireless last mile access networks and an additional 500 locations via any other means. The target sites are intended to be reached via several different means, including direct fibre optic connectivity, High capacity microwave links, VSAT access over the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) VSAT network and leased terrestrial circuits from local telecoms and ISP providers. This will enable the network to connect not just the district assemblies, but Hospitals, Schools, Police stations, agric extension service offices, and any other public office or institution in all the towns that are within the coverage areas of the network.
The project has currently installed all the proposed 30 WiMax sites for the last mile access network. The backbone network linking these sites to the Data Center in Accra has also been established. The MoFEP VSAT network has not been used since fiber links had been identified for those locations. This is welcome news since the VSAT locations would have introduced high latency into the network.
Main One and Vodafone (SAT3) are the two mainstream providers for the network.
The metro fiber network, which links all the ministries, has been completed and testing is currently being conducted (as at July 4th, 2011).
The Ghanaian Academic and Research Network (GARNET) was incorporated as a legal entity on August 24th 2010, as a non-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee Membership to GARNET is formulated on the basis of Open Access, implying that all accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana are allowed to join under the same terms of conditions and without any restrictions.
GARNET aims to build an advanced Network utilising the National communication backbone infrastructure. This network will be used to support teaching, learning and research among all public and private institutions of higher education in Ghana. It aims to ultimately connect its members to the global research and education network communities.
The two Core routers would be housed in two different locations. It is proposed that one would be housed in the Government of Ghana Data Centre and the other at GARNET's NOC which is proposed to be co-located at the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) server room. Fibre connection to this NOC would be built by the last mile arrangement between Main One and Member universities for bandwidth but coordinated with GARNET. Google has committed in principle to provide the first STM-1 (155.52 Mbps) bandwidth when agreements are signed between GARNET and Google. This NOC would connect other universities that are not necessarily part of the initial ten institutions but are members of GARNET.
It is also assumed that if each University would be eventually connected to the two core routers, then the logical connectivity would be as in the accompanying presentation. The rationale behind this design is to ensure that GARNET has a highly redundant and scalable network. The implementation of the proposed network would be achieved by working with various public and private communication companies.
Comments, contributions, and experiences to be shared can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Speaker Hubert Asior University of Education, Winneba