St. Louis builds an MSAP

For years, I've recommended that communities and regions build MSAPs (Multimedia Service Access Points). From our experiences operating one in Blacksburg as far back as 1999, we found that these local data exchange points save everyone in the community money. St. Louis is building a regional MSAP, which I call an RNAP, or Regional Network Access Point.

The Internet was originally designed to connect local networks that were generally far apart, so there was little need for local data exchange points. But as the Internet has grown, a lot of local traffic now gets carried across large parts of the country just to reach the other side of town. An MSAP reduces or eliminates that totally unnecessary and expensive transit route.

It's not expensive, especially if you already have a community or regional public colocation facility. Internet access providers and other large Internet users (e.g. local government, schools, colleges, hospitals) run a connection to the MSAP and adjust their network routing rules. Once you have at least two MSAP users, all traffic between those two networks stays local instead of being hauled, typically, to bigger cities and often to Washington, D.C. and/or San Francisco.

MSAPs not only save broadband costs, they improve network performance, often by an order of magnitude or more. This is particularly important for local, high performance services like file sharing, healthcare applications, and videoconferencing.

MSAPs work best when they are managed by a neutral third party, like a community broadband project.

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