Who owns the internet exchange point?

  • Internet exchange points (IXPs) facilitate direct interconnection between internet infrastructure companies like ISPs and CDNs.
  • IXPs reduce the volume of traffic that ISPs need to route through upstream transit providers, thus lowering transmission costs.
  • The collaborative ownership and management of IXPs are shared among participating ISPs and data centre operators, ensuring efficient and seamless connectivity, and benefiting all stakeholders involved.

Over the past two decades, there has been a significant growth in network interconnections, mirroring the vast expansion of the global Internet. This growth encompasses the development of new data centre facilities dedicated to housing network equipment. Several of these data centres have garnered substantial numbers of networks, largely owing to the flourishing IXPs operating within them.

What is an internet exchange point?

An internet exchange point (IXP) is a physical location where internet infrastructure companies, such as internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs), interconnect with each other. IXPs are typically situated at locations with existing connections to multiple distinct networks, such as data centres, and manage physical infrastructure (switches) to facilitate connections among participants.

The primary role of IXPs is to decrease the volume of an ISP’s traffic that needs to be transmitted via their upstream transit providers, thus lowering the average cost per bit for delivering their services. Additionally, the multitude of available paths via the IXP enhances routing efficiency by enabling routers to choose shorter paths, leading to improved network performance and fault tolerance.

Also read: Is cloud computing safe?

How does the internet exchange point work?

An IXP is essentially one or more physical locations containing network switches that route traffic between the different members of networks. Through various methods, these networks collectively cover the costs of maintaining the physical infrastructure and associated services. When transferring traffic across different networks, fees may be incurred for delivery. To bypass these costs and address other drawbacks linked to routing traffic through third-party networks, member companies connect directly with each other via IXPs, reducing expenses and minimising latency.

IXPs are expansive Layer 2 LANs within the OSI network model, constructed with one or multiple Ethernet switches interconnected across one or more physical buildings. Fundamentally, an IXP resembles a home network, albeit on a larger scale. IXPs handle traffic ranging from hundreds of Megabits/second to many Terabits/second. Despite their size, their primary objective remains to ensure efficient and seamless connectivity among numerous networks’ routers. In contrast, a typical home network would feature a single router serving multiple computers or mobile devices.

Also read: Which organisation is responsible for allocating public IP addresses?

Who owns the internet exchange point?

Ownership and management of IXPs are typically shared among participating ISPs and data centre operators. These organisations and businesses collaborate through mutual agreements and cooperation to ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of IXPs. While there isn’t a specific individual or entity that owns the entire IXP, all participating parties collectively bear responsibility for managing and operating the IXP infrastructure.

In the operation of an IXP, each ISP and data centre operator deploys their own network equipment at the physical location or data centre of the IXP, directly connecting with equipment from other participants. These devices facilitate the exchange of internet traffic and routing information to achieve more efficient and stable internet connections. Therefore, although there isn’t a singular owner, all participating organisations and businesses jointly benefit from the IXP and share responsibility for its operation and management.


Crystal Feng

Crystal Feng is an intern news reporter at Blue Tech Wave dedicated in tech trends. She is studying Chinese-English translation at Beijing International Studies University. Send tips to c.feng@btw.media.

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