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Session moderator, Mr Wim Degezelle, Independent Consultant, commenced the session by welcoming all participants and setting the agenda for the workshop in this order: an introduction on BPFs, details on what an IXP is and its importance, a panel discussion where the panelist will shared their experiences with IXPs in their countries, and sharing of best practices that has been done in other parts of the world so that others can replicate.
Degezelle explained that, BPFs are for people who are not necessarily experts in the field; they are part of the IGFs intersessional work, which was started to get the community involved. BPFs gather knowledge and experiences within the community and make such information available as a useful resource so others can benefit from it.
Bastiaan Goslings, Governance and Policy Officer, Netherlands-AMS-IX, recommended to participants to read the draft document of BPFs on IXPs at the IGF website and give their feedback on the collaborative Google Doc. The Internet is not just is a platform of a collective independently managed networks known as Autonomous Systems (AS), and there are more than 55, 000 of them. The document describes two basic forms of interconnecting independent IP networks:
- Transit – a paid for service; a smaller network connects to bigger networks and access transit servers in order to communicate to the rest of the world.
- Peering – direct interconnection between two networks to exchange information, called public peering; this highlights the importance of Internet exchange points (IXP).
A community effort known as the Internet eXchange Federation (IX-F) defines IXP. Some highlights of the importance of an IXP:
- Connection to an IXP reduces network operational costs since it saves transit fees and other charges.
- Local traffic is exchanged locally, which also saves cost and time.
- There is a reduction in latency, which improves the network applications and services.
- More control of how network traffic is routed is retained.
- Stability is increased.
- Prices are reduced and speed is increased for local communities.
- Local development is stimulated, and more local content will be made available.
Ms Jane Coffin, Director, Development Strategy, Internet Society, moderated the panel discussion and cited brief examples on how some IXPs are functioning in various regions.
- The IXP in Ecuador is providing training on PKI for teams and RIRs.
- Local content development is being accelerated, thanks to local hosting which can be triggered by having an IXP.
- Value added services like time servers, route maps, and local hosting companies are stimulated by local IXPs.
Mr Sumon Ahmed Sabir, Chief Strategy Officer, Fiber@home Limited, Bangladesh, confirmed the benefits of IXPs and noted that these have improved the Internet situation in Banglesesh thanks to the Bangladesh IXP, BDIX. The membership of the IXP has increased such that, an ISP that does not peer with it is not considered serious. There are, however, some challenges of licensing with the government
Mr Antonio Moreiras, Projects and Development Manager, NIC.br, shared the roles the NIC plays, including managing the Brazilian IXP (BR.IX). The NIC is a non-profit corporation. It manages the local ccTLD.br, the local National Internet Registry working with LACNIC, and handles a number of projects that facilitate the development of the Internet for Brazil (one of them being IX.BR, the Internet exchange point). The IXP is funded with the monies that come from domain name charges. There are 26 independent IXP in Brazil, which have agreements with universities and commercial data centers that accepts to act as (PICs) point of interconnection for the IXPs. No fees are charged for the interconnection, and they are trying to get a different model that will make the IXPs more sustainable. NIC.br is working towards attracting CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to interconnect with the IXP. He recommended that IXPs should create conditions for CDNs to host their servers within the IXPs so that the contents will be available locally, since this is a major challenge to IXPs.
Mr Carlos Vera, Founder and Director, Internet Society, Ecuador, explained the situation IXPs in Ecuador in overcoming specific challenges. Ecuador has five major players that provide Internet services. The recent earthquake destabilized the country so they looked for support from Telecom providers and the Internet Society to provide technical knowledge for the IXP. They have an agreement with Google, which is helping to provide a first server to one of the several nodes across the country.
Coffin talked about the Bangkok Internet Exchange (BKNIX). Before BKNIX was started, Thailand had about nine transit exchanges and not all of them were interconnected. There was therefore the need to have a neutral local exchange point, and with support from the Internet Society, Alcatel and Cisco, BKNIX was created. BKNIX still has challenges with fibre connection cuts between members and the IXP.
Mr Allan MacGillivray, Senior Policy Advisor to the President, Canadian Internet Registration Authority, Canada, shared his NGOs experience as being similar as that of NIC.br, where the ccTLD manager of Canada provides some revenue that has helped fund the creation of IXPs. However unlike NIC.br, the IXPs are not owned by the ccTLD. There were only two IXPs in 2012, but the organization chose to expand them to twenty-seven. Some of the things that helped the IXPs to achieve success were:
- Working with the local community, by contacting and supporting them financially as well as with switches
- Building trust with the ISPs
- Establishing good governance – being accountable and ensuring effective financial management.
- Insisting upon business planning
The round table panel discussion, as well as contributions from participants noted some of the best elements to put in place to ensure the sustainability of the IXPs:
- A good business plan outlining the day to day activities as well as ways of raising revenue to support operational costs like colocation fees, etc.
- Projections and preparations for future growth of traffic
- Recruitment of highly competent volunteers with technical expertise to run the IXP to ensure technical sustainability, where the IX operates as non-profit
- Consideration of marketing solutions for IXPs
- Strong institutions to ensure IXPs are properly managed and operated
- Implementation of non-competition policies (with the customers of members) when appropriate
Ms Sharada Srinivasan, Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, shared where to find information on IXP best practices:
- Fora of IXP meetings (both local and regional)
- Global collaborative efforts like the IGF BPF on IXP, ITU study groups, peering and interconnection forums.
- Projects like the Euro IXP mentoring program, which allows new IXPs to be mentored and/or partnered with other IXPs
Information on where to find resources on IXPs can be documented at the annex of the draft document.
It was concluded that IXPs are key to connecting the unconnected and offer a way of ensuring inclusive growth. Participants were encouraged to read and contribute to the outcome document.
by Ivy Hoetu, Internet Society Ghana