[ppml] Policy Proposal 2003-15: IPv4 Allocation Policy for the Africa Portion of the ARIN Region

Owen DeLong owen at delong.com
Tue Sep 23 20:51:29 EDT 2003

> I couldn't find a Podunk in Iowa (I gather that the term means "nowhere
> town" in American?) but I did find Bonaparte, Iowa, population 465. If I
> was an ISP in Bonaparte, Iowa, and I wanted a T1 line to the BWW (Big
> Wide World [tm]), it would cost me $1,024 to $1,052 per month from one of
> two providers (http://shopfort1.com). If I was an ISP in Africa and I got
> it from my state-legislated monopoly Telco, it would cost me ~$55,000 per
> month for the same dedicated T1 symmetrical bandwidth.
For that price per month, terrestrial microwave would pay for itself
rather quickly.  Have you considered setting up terrestrial microwave
links between providers?

> Shared satellite bandwidth is somewhat cheaper, but obviously of a much
> poorer quality - although in many African countries it's all one can get.
> Additionally, the cost of leased lines to one's customers, or to local
> peering points, is generally several orders of magnitude higher than in
> the North American continent.
Whereas the cost of terrestrial microwave tends to be on the order of 2-3
times circuits in north am.

> On the income side, the picture is just as bleak. My company charges $14
> per month for an unlimited access dial-up connection, for example. That
> compares rather well with a typical North American ISP, I suspect,
> especially considering that my primary input cost is 55 times higher than
> in Podunk (or 75 times higher than in California) ;-)
I don't think it is the job of ARIN to make exceptions so that your 
business model can work.  If your costs are higher, then, those costs should
be passed on to your customers.

I don't object to moving the minimum allocation unit to /22, but, I do 
to doing it specifically for Africa.  It should be done in general.

> By way of comparison with Bonaparte, Iowa, the population of African
> countries varied from 80,000 (Seychelles) to 116,930,000 (Nigeria) in
> 2001. A total of 817 million people shared 1.5 Gbps outgoing - the
> equivalent of 1000 T1s - in 2002.
> Market sizes are not large. In fact they're tiny. There are only 1,600,000
> dial-up subscribers, and hardly any cable or DSL subscribers, in the whole
> of Africa. The reasons for this include extortionately high Telco costs
> (we don't have ANY free local calls in any African country that I'm aware
> of), very low average income - $1600 per capita per year in sub-Saharan
> Africa, very low tele-density and low literacy rates. Not forgetting the
> incredibly high cost of international bandwidth that we "enjoy".
I don't see how changing the minimum IP allocation unit will fix any of
those rather severe social engineering problems.

> On the tele-density issue, one of the most "connected" and
> "Internet-active" countries in Africa, Kenya, only had a total of some
> 450,000 telephone lines installed when I last heard. Ghana has 250,000.
> That's more than Bonaparte, Iowa, but a lot less than a large town or
> small city in the USA!
> A "really big ISP" (think AOL, Earthlink) in Africa has a few 100,000
> dial-up subscribers, or a few hundred leased lines. There are only a
> handful of these (I can think of three, off hand), which is why there are
> only 19 LIRs in sub-Saharan Africa. The overwhelming majority of African
> ISPs are far, far, smaller. For them, 1,000 subscribers is a lot.
OK... So, let me sum up what you're saying... You think that it's still
OK to engineer the internet allocation policies around what the large
providers feel is necessary, but, that's picking on Africa because the
large providers in Africa can't be large enough to appear large to the
big boys in North America.  Sorry... We should either fix this for ALL
providers that need /22s or none.  I wasn't completely convinced by
Leo's arguments, but, your clarifications have swayed me the rest of
the way there.

> On the issue of scale, the 10 countries in Africa with the most outgoing
> international bandwidth (2002) are (figures in Mbps): -
> I submit that it's far from level, in comparing sub-Saharan Africa with
> the North American continent.

The playing field is level.  The resources available to the two teams before
they get to the field are vastly different.  On one side of the field,
you have a collection of well-funded rich kids from North America.  On the
other side, you have a collection of poor ISPs trying to help an even
poorer customer base.  The disparity between the economics of the two
teams does not mean the field is not level.  It does mean that there
are many other factors that come into whether it is a fair contest or not.

However, making exceptions to the rules of the game to make the contest
more fair for a subset of the disadvantaged teams is not the right
answer.  If we are going to change the rules to help disadvantaged teams,
we should help them all.  We should change the rules for all smaller

I would support this if it generally moved the allocation unit to /22
instead of /20.  I will not support it if it is specific to Africa.


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