North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Internet Exchange Questions

  • From: Streiner, Justin
  • Date: Tue Mar 19 12:28:29 2002

On Tue, 19 Mar 2002, Jon Bennett wrote:

> > 3) As time passes, more providers either understand
> > the benefits of
> > peering at an exchange point versus paying
> > ${UPSTREAM} to provide transit
> > for all of their traffic, or their traffic levels
> > grow to the point (see
> > point 1) where peering at ${EXCHANGE} begins to make
> > financial sense.
> > Most providers lack the levels of traffic or the
> > geographic footprint to
> > peer with the big guys (UUNET, Sprint, AT&T, CW,
> > Genuity, etc), who
> > typically build private interconnections with each
> > other in multiple
> > geographically diverse areas.  Private interconnects
> > are normally not cost
> > effective for service providers who don't satisfy
> > those criteria, so for
> > them, peering at exchange points is more
> > financially/technically
> > attractive.
> >
> Is there a need for additional IXs or are there too many today and some
> should be consolidated or shut down altogether?

For clarification I may use the terms IX and exchange point

That would depend on each exchange point operator.  There are now
many smaller regional exchange points in areas that are far enough away
from the 'big' exchange points that are likely to be self sustaining
because of local interest.  Many of them will probably not grow bigger
than that, but I'd hazard a guess that the operators of the smaller
exchanges didn't set out to become the next MAE-EAST (ok, bad example ;-) )
but rather to improve interconnectivity between local/regional companies
for the mutual benefit of all exchange members, often on a cost-recovery
basis. lists many exchange points around the world, large and

> If there is a need for new IXs, where do you put them? Who decides
> where to build a new IX and how do you get service providers to show up
> there once it is built?

These days, that can be a chicken-and-egg question.  There really isn't a
formalized process for deciding where an IX should be placed.  In the case
of some of the regional points, they came about because someone took the
initiative to build them.

I'd imagine if you're located in a city where:
1) The cost of a circuit to the nearest exchange point is too high
2) There are a decent number of local organizations who may be interested
	in or capable of peering there

then it may make sense to establish an IX.  It doesn't take much to run a
small one.  You could do it with an Ethernet switch and a small amount of
power and rack space to start.

It may also help if you're not a service provider yourself.  Sometimes
local providers get standoffish about peering at an IX run by a
competitor.  Strange, but sometimes so is human/social psychology ;-)

If can also help if your area/building is served by more than one telco.

Getting providers to show up usually starts with some type of grass-roots
effort, getting the word out on the street that you have a place where
local providers can meet to exchange traffic.  Getting to the point there
the IX assumes a critical mass of sorts and makes sense to operate for the
long term takes time and effort.