It's been a while since we've had a GPNOG, so I got on a plane and made it happen last night.
What's a NOG? NOG stand for Network Operators Group. It's basically where a bunch of people from local ISP's or ISP related companies (think cloud) get together and drink beer and eat pizza. Yes, the Internet runs on beer and pizza.
GPNOG is the get together in Gauteng. KZNNOG is the get together in KZN and WCNOG is the, you guessed it, the get together in the Western Cape. There are NOGs all over the world, I won't list them here.
Why are NOG's important? It's a networking event sure, but it's important from the perspective that knowing other players in the industry makes the industry better.
If you haven't read my post on what peering is and why it's important, then go do that here:
The conversations, the decisions, and the eventual outcome from these get-togethers make the Internet better and ultimately benefits you, as the consumer in more ways than you can imagine.
One key takeaway from last night was the growth in Southern Africa. I was at Afpif in August, and that really opened my eyes to what's happening in Africa.
But let's just focus on Southern Africa for now.
The orange bars are African regions. The the top orange bar is Southern Africa. We have the best Internet out of all the African regions, but we're still so far behind the rest of the world. The rest of Africa is lagging even further.
One of the biggest hurdles in all this, is simply just the price of connectivity in Africa. It's prohibitively expensive (Botswana is the most expensive where 1GB of data costs as much as $15.50).
How so we solve this? Well that's a long and complicated, politically fuelled answer, but NOG's and peering and an open Internet is a great place to start. The more ISP's peer, and share resources, the more enticed larger players will be to join the fray, that brings CDN's and content networks to town and drives down the cost of connectivity.
But all of this starts at a NOG. It starts with having a beer with someone from another ISP, a conversation about how helping each other is mutually beneficial and ultimately makes the Internet better for everyone.
So tonight, when you kick off your shoes, and fire up your TV for some Netflix and Chill, spare a thought for the poor engineers who had to drink many many beers and eat way too much pizza to make sure your session isn't buffering, ruining your evening.