The role of Internet Exchange Points in creating Internet capacity and bringing autonomy to developing nations

29 September 2011 - A Workshop on Access in Nairobi, Kenya


The main themes to be covered in this workshop are: an explanation of how Internet bandwidth, the capacity to route Internet traffic, is produced within Internet exchange points, an overview of the distribution of Internet exchange points globally, and discussion of the role of Internet exchange points in making developing regions autonomous from the draining expense of international telecommunications carriage. The creation of an Internet exchange point is the single most economically-empowering decision that the Internet community within any region can make, and the one which will most secure their future as an independent and viable center of local content and online community.



A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised:
This workshop highlighted the role and value of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and provided a compelling justification for their proliferation in developing nations by explaining the advantages of creating Internet capacity and bringing autonomy to emerging markets.

Panelists provided practical insight into the establishment of IXPs in developed countries, Africa and the Caribbean, highlighting the requirements for and challenges to IXP establishment, and the benefits to be derived.

The workshop provided participants with and understanding of:
1. The economic underpinning of Internet traffic routing within IXPs;

2. The role of IXPs in routing Internet traffic and stimulating market growth where the exist;

3. The importance of both social and technical engineering in the establishment of IXPs;

4. Key challenges and strategies for establishing IXPs in developing markets;

5. The role of Internet exchange points in reducing the flight of capital related to international telecommunications transit and contributing to financial autonomy.

Workshop Conclusions:

IXPs are critical Internet infrastructure and their establishment is indeed the single most economically empowering decision that the Internet community within any region can make.

The fact that developed countries are benefitting from their IXPs should be a signal to the developing world to press for greater competition in Internet service provision and follow a similar path to developing a viable Internet economy.

The establishment of IXPs can help countries secure their future as independent and viable centers of local content and online community.

Conclusions and further comments:
1) IXPs are catalysts of Internet development in that they creates an Internet ecosystem around it. Without an exchange point the ecosystem does not exist. Growth of the Internet ecosystem a higher quality of Internet service and better penetration of Internet access and all the attendant benefits.

2) There needs to be greater emphasis on competition and on making emerging markets more competitive from a telecommunications and internet services delivery standpoint.

3) IXPs are a fundamental component to the creation of a healthy, robust domestic Internet economy. Local traffic should be exchanged locally. There is no country or jurisdiction that is too small to benefit from an Internet Exchange Point.