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Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) 4 November 2014

Hurray for the Internet in Asia-Pacific!

Dawit Bekele
By Dawit BekeleRegional Vice President - Africa

New Thai IXP will improve Internet connectivity and sustainability

I recently attended a talk by Dr Kanchana Kanchanasut, Internet Hall of Fame inductee and Vice-President of the Thai Network Information Center Foundation. She spoke about IXPs (Internet Exchange Points) and the room was abuzz with news of the new Bangkok Internet Exchange Point (BKNIX), a neutral community IXP that will be operational in December 2014. The BKNIX is an example of partnership to increase connectivity made possible through the efforts of people like Randy Bush and
Philip Smith, and entities like Alcatel Lucent, NSRC, Netnod, Cisco, and the Internet Society. As I listened, my list of questions were steadily answered.

So what is an IXP and, why is it a good thing?
The physical Internet exchange is an ethernet switch in a neutral location where network operators freely interconnect their networks to exchange traffic. The IXP operator usually provides a switch and rack space, and network interconnect with the IXP fabric.

In order to understand why IXPs are good for us, it helps to understand what the world was like pre IXPs. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that provide internet connectivity to their customers had at least one or two international connections to the rest of the Internet, and sent/received traffic from each other via international connections this meant expensive, high latency and congested lines.

If every ISPs in a country participates in the IXP, local traffic stays local, the network performs better, and quality of service (QoS) for local traffic improves.

Who joins an IXP?
Typically commercial ISPs, academic and international networks, internet infrastructure operators (eg. ccTLDs), content providers, mobile operators, broadcast and media providers, and government information networks.

Who has them?
There are over 56 IXPs in the Asia Pacific and they can be found in countries from Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore to Bangladesh, The Philippines, and Vanuatu.

Why are they becoming increasingly relevant?
They are relevant for all countries for both economic and technical reasons. They help reduce costs, better monetizes assets, improve the local Internet economy, attracting content development.

By improving routing and transport, ISPs are better able to economically scale network capacity. With the growth of ultra -broadband Internet connections, there will be a need for an improved, stronger higher performing, sustainable network infrastructure, including a high- capacity routing platform.

Where do you find information about successful IXPs?
Check out our IXP Toolkit and you will find examples like the Nepal IX – launched in 2002 and where most ISPs connected within the first year. Bangladesh IX (BDIX), launched in 2004 also keeps many of the small and mid-sized providers in Dhaka connected.

Other examples include:

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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