The Google Global Cache hits Kenya

In January I wrote about the way the Google Global Cache is affecting Uganda – how local web caching is completely changing the internet user experience for that country. We’ve known for a couple weeks that this was underway in Kenya too. Well, here are some numbers on that.

Here’s the aggregate month:

We’re seeing the overall traffic increase 300% from around 100Mbs to around 400Mbs. Those are some pretty impressive numbers, no matter how you look at them. Why is KIXP/TESPOK not making some noise about this significant achievement?

How does it look across the ISPs that are using it?

KDN hosts the cache:

Wananchi:

Internet Solutions:

Africa Online:

Local Web Cache Lessons: Uganda

The chart you’re looking at is amazing. Orange Uganda has seen local traffic jump from 3Mbs to over 30Mbs in just two weeks due to partnering and implementing Google’s Global Cache. One wonders how much business they’re starting to chip away at from their competition.

In layman’s terms this means that once anyone in Uganda using Orange has visited a website (especially Google’s data heavy ones like YouTube, Google Maps or even Search results), that the content is cached locally. Once that is done, the next person to visit that same site gets it served to them locally, which is much faster than having their traffic make the round trip from Uganda to Europe.

There are 8 peering ISPs in Uganda, and only one of them is using Google Global Cache. Yet, below we see that Orange Uganda has made the whole country’s usage start to look like a hockey stick.

This begs the question, “why aren’t the other 7 peers using Google’s Global Cache?”

It also makes you wonder why more ISPs haven’t started using this in other countries. After all, it gives your users a distinct advantage, they get a much better user experience than they did before.

From all that I’ve heard, it sounds like each ISP is more interested in keeping their competition away from the Google Global Cache than they are about their customer’s experience. This means that they refuse to sign a deal with Google unless they’re the only ones who can use it, blocking out their competitors.

Take a moment to ponder this idiocy with me. Right now we’re all on equally crappy load times for data-heavy content, all of the ISPs suck at relatively the same level. If they all moved to Google’s Global Cache, they would still all be at relatively the same level, but it wouldn’t suck. Sure, no advantage gained over the competition, but a lot less pain to their users.

Here’s the kicker… with faster data speeds and load times, people use more data. Their profits would increase.

This is a perfect example where a rising tide would float all boats, but all the captains have decided they like to wallow in the mud instead.

[Note: Thanks to Tim McGinnis for the tip]

Google Kenya and the Google Global Cache

Google is well known for snatching up top-level talent, this holds true in Kenya as well. ICT groundbreaker Joe Mucheru heads up the Kenya office, and he’s surrounded by a team of smart young technologists. I had the chance to meet Isis Nyong’o (Strategic Parter Development Manager) while getting ready for Barcamp Nairobi, and then Chris Kiagiri (Tech Lead) and Mark de Blois (Geographic Supervisor) last week before I left.

Google Kenya is Different

I found out a couple of interesting points that make the Google Kenya office even more interesting than before. It turns out that there are 3 offices in Africa; Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. However, the office in Kenya is neither a sales office nor an engineering office, which makes it unique globally. In fact, it is the only “deployment office” worldwide. This means that the Kenya office can be used as a launch point for new ideas and is the central focal point for Google’s Africa strategy.

It came down to a choice between Senegal and Kenya – one French-speaking and one English-speaking, and both with a fairly well developed technology sector. Senegal had a direct transatlantic cable, but Kenya had the right people available. At Google it seems, finding the right personnel usually trumps about everything else.

Speaking of which, they’re still looking for the right people, not only in Senegal, but also in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Unfortunately, Google HR seems to be geographically challenged, as jobs in Egypt are somehow not in Africa…

Dealing with a Slow Internet in Africa

The Google Global Cache (GGC) was announced in May at the African Network Operators Group (AFNOG) conference in Morocco. In lieu of data centers in Africa, Google has created a strategy that is housed at major exchange points to serve Africa at the edge of Google’s network. Internal tests suggested at least 20% performance increase in high latency links, like East Africa.


[The top cycle (1,2,3 & 4) is how things normally work. The bottom cycle (5,6 &7) is where the changes are.]

It works like this. Once anyone within that exchange point’s sphere visits a webpage, the information is cached and it becomes much faster for anyone else visiting that website to access it. Pre-fetching of data also that improves performance over time, even for dynamic content.

This is an interesting strategy. It’s a win for ISP’s (less international traffic means lower costs), a win for end users (pages load faster), and a win for Google (faster, better usage).

The pilot in Africa was turned on in Kenya just 2 weeks ago. There are 17 international exchange points (IXP) in 15 African nations, so with a positive pilot in Kenya, this could soon be seen continent-wide.

Keep your ears open, there are hints of even more interesting stuff coming out of the Google Kenya office.