IXPs are an important way of reducing the costs of Internet bandwidth; however, as Antonio M. Moreiras, the moderator of the roundtable noted, there are still 86 countries without IXPs, most of which are developing countries. The case studies presented in the roundtable, from both developed and developing countries, demonstrated that, as in many areas in Internet governance, 'one size does not fit all'. Instead, different governance models for Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) can be equally sustainable as long as they are managed well and that service providers see a value in interconnecting via the IXP.
Key issues raised in the roundtable were:
- If there are enough smaller service providers connecting to an IXP, the benefits of traffic exchange amongst the players means that the IXP has a good chance of being sustainable, even if the incumbent service provider is not part of the IXP.
- In an environment where there are many small ISPs, the IXP can provide extra services to those ISPs, such as providing Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) training and assigning IP addresses and Autonomous System (AS) numbers to those ISPs. This can make the IXP more attractive, and therefore be a more sustainable operation.
- The model of governance (member-based, commercial, academic network, informal networks) tends not to matter as much as providing quality service to providers that use the IXP. The exception, noted in the Best Practices Forum “Enabling environments to establish successful IXPs”, held on Tuesday 10 November, is IXPs created due to regulator pressure, which at least in the Caribbean experience, tend not to be as successful.
- Having more than one IXP in a city or region can be sustainable (for example, London has more than one exchange catering for different needs of different providers); however, in other circumstances, multiple IXPs can result in dividing traffic, and ISPs needing to join multiple IXPs to gain access to local traffic exchanged in the different locations. This can become expensive for service providers and ultimately lead to one or more of the IXPs failing. Jane Coffin, Internet Society, provided the example of two IXPs in Ghana, both of which were failing until they joined forces and become a redundant loop (one IXP became the main switching fabric with the second becoming the backup fabric).
- Education can be an important component in ensuring IXP success. As Bastiaan Goslings, AMS-IX, stated in the workshop, in many cases, service providers have little awareness of the fact that in exchanging traffic locally, everyone’s piece of the pie, whether small or large, will grow.
IXPs that participated in the roundtable included LINX (London IX), AMS-IX (Amsterdam IX), Internet Multifeed Co (an IX in Japan). Brazil and Argentina’s IXP experiences were provided by Sebastian Bellagamba (Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Internet Society), Antonio M. Moreiras (NIC.br) and Ariel Graizer (NAP CAbase).
By Samantha Dickinson