BUILDING AN INTERNET EXCHANGE IN ALBERTA
On Friday, September 14, a group of interested parties met in Calgary’s City Hall to discuss the Alberta Internet Exchange (AlbertaIX). The proposed exchange will be operated by a neutral board of directors made up of participating members.
Internet Service Providers in western Canada, independent network consultants, government and agencies such as the Canadian Internet Registration Association have identified a need for an Internet Exchange in western Canada.
WHAT IS AN INTERNET EXCHANGE?
An Internet exchange (the short form often used is IX) is a single location where content providers such as Google or YouTube can directly interconnect with network service providers and where network providers can interconnect directly with each other. This increases the efficiency of the Internet because it streamlines a significant amount of traffic more directly to and from users. It also keeps local traffic local. Currently, when local users with different Internet Service Providers are interacting, their messages can travel around the world before connecting back in Alberta.
At present, there is one major IX in Canada, the Toronto Internet Exchange (TorIX), and a few limited ones such as the ones in Vancouver and Ottawa. A graph of the increasing use of the Toronto Internet Exchange for this year:
The volume of traffic now warrants the development of an Alberta Internet Exchange (AlbertaIX).
An Internet Exchange is managed by a neutral organization so that anyone can connect. The content providers connect voluntarily if they feel the volume of usage warrants. The network service providers aggregate at the exchange point to create the warranted demand, and it lowers their costs.
As a shared and open facility, an Internet Exchange provides most benefit to small and medium-sized Internet Service Providers who would not, on their own, be able to peer directly with the major content providers because they cannot offer a sufficient volume of traffic to interest major content providers in a direct connection.
Alberta is home to around 80 small and medium-sized Internet Services Providers who would benefit from an Internet Exchange.
Cybera is helping to coordinate the creation of an Alberta Internet Exchange (AlbertaIX) on behalf of all interested parties, because it is a neutral agency that acts without privilege or partiality to any one organization or company. Cybera acts in the best interest of Albertans to spur innovation in the development and use of broadband networks.
Once the AlbertaIX is established, it will be governed by an independent board of directors.
The Alberta Internet Exchange will be designed to support both ad hoc peering, which is arranged by the individual organizations connected to the exchange, and automatic peering, where all connections are enabled by a route server. This removes the need for individual contact and request peering arrangements with all possible organizations. However, it creates the potential for a single point of failure. Therefore, it is important to have server redundancy, which is built into the proposed design of the AlbertaIX.
The design and budget are built in phases to recognize the potential for changes that can be expected as traffic volumes increase. More information is available here.
With an IX in Alberta, ISPs will see a reduction in costs and the settlement-free public peering point for local Internet traffic will increase the speed and quality of the Internet in the province. It will also foster more competition, leading to lower costs and more choices of services.