Tag Archives: IXPs

IXP Training from France-IX

By Franck Simon, President, France- IX

Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), where networks physically meet to cost effectively exchange local traffic, are an important part of the Internet, especially for enabling local users to access a variety of content and services. However, launching and maintaining an IXP, particularly in developing countries, can be complicated and start-up groups can benefit from knowledge, experience and training passed on by those of us who have been down the road before.

France-IX is the Premier Internet Peering Service Provider in France, offering public and private interconnection services through its carrier and data center neutral exchange points in Paris and Marseille.

France-IX interconnects several hundreds of telecommunications carriers, ISPs, content providers, content delivery networks and all other Internet networks worldwide with significant traffic in the Internet French market. This enhances the affordability and latency of the Internet traffic exchanged between its members and thus improves the overall quality of the Internet in France.

Founded in June 2010 with the support of the French Internet community, France-IX is a member-based association whose core values are neutrality, sustainability and constant improvement of the Internet.

To date, France-IX has provided IXP training to five African networks including two in Guinea: SEN-IX in Senegal and, most recently, CAS-IX in Morocco. Training typically comprises a few days of theory followed by hands-on technical training that would be considered niche even in the world of telecoms. The wealth of knowledge, built up and tested over many years in the field and which can’t be found in any book, is passed on in the following training modules:

1. Identify the IXP organisation type

In EMEA, the main types of IXPs are ISP associations, not-for-profit independent organizations, carrier-neutral commercial organizations or educational/government agencies. It is also possible to be a combination of these. For example, France-IX is a combination of a non-profit association and a sole owner of a private company to run its day-to-day operations, because this is the model that works best for its sustainability.

France-IX explains the pros and cons of each choice and advises on the final decision, which will be based on a number of factors including market expectations, local requirements and regulatory constraints. For example, if you choose to be a neutral organisation, you must use neutral datacentres and POP locations so you can attract members that value neutrality. Once the choice is made, you are trained on how to organize a board of directors, acting as the executive board of the neutral organization.

2. Identify the business model

It is crucial to have a sustainable business model, so depending on the context of the local telecoms market, France-IX advises its group of trainees to survey their potential market to choose between a paid professional service or a free model. If the choice is for a free model, the IXP will then need a number of founding members who will also act as capital investors to help launch the IXP.

3. Defining services and pricing

The next step is to identify which services need to be run on day 1 of operation, these are the ones that are mandatory, along with their pricing. Then a typical product launch plan can be rolled out later when the timing is right.

Pricing doesn’t have to be the cheapest. France-IX didn’t start with the lowest prices. Instead it set price points that would enable it to provide a professional service from day 1 and planned reductions over time. When setting pricing, the main question is not “is my pricing competitive?” but “is my pricing in line with the local market expectations?” This is key to success because each country and each market is different.

When defining a pricing policy, the main recommendations are:

  1. Reflect the local market and the current expectations;
  2. Apply pricing that is fair and competitive to similar services on the market;
  3. Cover your cost, not only to deliver the service, but to maintain it in the future.

4. IXP development

A successful IXP needs to focus on three main areas of development:

  1. Infrastructure – with each new point-of-presence (POP) you need to ensure it is geographically closer to the community you want to address so as to always be reducing latency;
  2. Services – the role of an IXP is changing. It is no longer purely a technical platform that connects networks to the Internet. Today, IXPs have the opportunity to offer members benefits beyond peering so France-IX advises new IXPs to listen to their community’s needs and go further by imagining new services that might be beneficial, such as anti-DDoS and DNS;
  3. Eco-system – you need to gather the local community together, i.e. a variety of networks who have a shared interest in exchanging traffic. This is natural to carriers, mobile operators, ISPs, Content Delivery Networks, social media and digital media but applies to others also. Any company delivering its services on the Internet is a good candidate and the IXP needs to understand what the existing and future popular services in its market are in order to stay relevant. These could be in e-commerce, mobile banking, video-on-demand, etc.

5. Best practices

This part of the training covers guidelines for best practice that an IXP should follow in the following three areas:

  1. Connecting members in a professional way and the rules of your connection procedure;
  2. Managing IXP infrastructure and members globally;
  3. Monitoring services.

6. Technical training

Finally the session moves from the meeting room to the lab for technical input, which is divided into:

  1. Running and monitoring IXP infrastructure
  2. Running services
  3. Handling outages – France-IX explains how to trouble-shoot the most common types of outages, simulating real situations based on fifteen years’ experience in the field.

As the leading digital gateway to Africa and the Middle East, the training France-IX provides is an important part of its aim to support the development of Internet connectivity in North and West Africa, helping these regions open up to the global economy.

African Union Project Helps Set Up IXPs in Six African countries

By Rebecca Wanjiku

Six African countries have set up Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), after two years of the African Union’s African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project, managed by the Internet Society.

Under the project, the Internet Society was to provide technical training to AU member countries. The initial engagement involved building a local stakeholder driven process to start the dialogue for countries without IXPs with an end goal of establishing a national IXP based on global best practices. The second part involved initiating a regional process to support the growth of existing national IXPs and ISPs to become Regional IXPs (RIXPs) and Regional Internet carriers (RICs) respectively. Technical training was held in 28 countries, attracting more than 500 participants.

“This is the first major initiative in Africa that has utilized the multi-stakeholder approach towards the implementation of IXPs. Governments have played a facilitative role towards the establishment of IXPs in five countries launched in 2014 and are actively involved in the 3 preparing to be launched in 2015. As a result, there has been more IXPs launched in the last 12 months than in the 5 years before,” said Michuki Mwangi, Internet Society’s Senior Development Manager for Africa.

The new IXPs are in Namibia, Burundi, Swaziland, Gambia, Gabon and Seychelles. Africa currently has 37 IXPs and according to Packet Clearing House (PCH), Africa’s domestic bandwidth production grew by 145 percent, from 113Gigabits in April last year to 277 Gigabits in April this year.

The engagement in countries involved bringing together government representatives, ISPs, content, research and education network operators, amongst others likely to be peering at the exchange. The countries also received, technical trainings that involved assessment of technical preparedness for networks expected to interconnect, discussions on benefits of setting up an IXP and benefits of getting Internet resources IP addresses and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) from AFRINIC.

“The five workshops at the regional level achieved their goal, which was to enhance interconnectivity within the region, encourage local content development and data localization by promoting investments in data hosting infrastructures and data centers as well as cost- savings through peering and content distribution mechanisms,” said the final report forwarded to the AU.

In terms of availability of technical experts in the area of IXPs, Africa is still considered lower than other regions, which means AXIS training has produced a high number of experts.

“The number of people trained and countries covered in the project was more than in the entire history of Africa and IXPs,” said Michuki Mwangi. “Through the project we have developed a pool of subject matter experts in the African region. In addition, the process has enabled us to attach regional and international experts, to continue supporting the respective countries through their efforts to establish the IXP.”

Ethiopia workshop on Internet Exchange Point concludes successfully

The African Union commission, in collaboration with the Internet Society, conducted best Practices Capacity Building workshop from 24-25 June 2014 at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop was attended by participants from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan.

The Opening Ceremony which was attended by twenty nine participants was officiated by the acting head of information society division, Mr. Adil Suleiman, African Union Commission and Dr. Dawit Bekele, Director, Internet Society-Africa Bureau.

The workshop was part of the African Union (AU) and African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project to support the establishment of IXPs across Africa. The AXIS project aims at keeping Africa’s local Internet traffic local to the continent by providing capacity building and technical assistance to facilitate the establishment of IXPs in Africa.

Mr. Kayihura Mabano conducted the workshop and aired his desire to see countries establish their own IXPs. He pointed out the benefits the countries will experience; local Internet traffic will be routed locally rather through exchange point, there will be downward pressure on costs and the economy of the countries will grow and distribution of local Internet content will multiply.

Theforum also provided participants with the required knowledge to enhance better understanding of the benefits of IXPs and plans to establish IXPs in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen which was invited as an observer.

During the workshop, participants decided to form a taskforce to enhance the establishment and management of Internet Exchange points (IXPs) in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. The stakeholders of the respective Countries were urged to establish IXP and the African Union in collaboration with the Internet Society will offer a five day technical aspect workshop to impart technical and administrative skills needed to set-up, operate and administer an IXP.

Other participants at the workshop include representatives from Djibouti Telecom, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Ethiopia, Ethio-Telecom, Addis Ababa University Institute of Technology, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Somalia, Ministry of Telecommunication and Postal services of South Sudan, MTN- South Sudan, RCS –Communication South Sudan, Zain- South Sudan, Bilpam Telecommunication-South Sudan, ISOC Yemen Chapter, Yemen Telecom, and Tele Yemen ISP.

What Next for Burundi IXP After Successful launch?

Burundi is amongst the latest East African country to set up an IXP, and hopes to grow the capacity exchanged locally.

The Burundi IXP Internet Exchange Point was successfully launched in March this year in Bujumbura, and is expecting to exchange 500Mbps at its peak within two months.

“The ICT community in Burundi has been on the front line to ensure the service is successful and has assisted in several ways to operationalize IXP,” said Coppens Pasteur Ndayiragije, President of BurundiX.

Currently, local providers peering at the IXP are; BBS, ECONET wireless and SPIDERNET. The country sees technology as an enabler in conducting business, poverty reduction and establishment of effective Burundian information society.

The main players in supply of Internet services in the country ECONET Wireless, SPIDERNET, BBS, LEO, ONATEL, USAN, CBINET, TEMPO AFRICELL, OSANET, but Ndayiragije is optimistic the IXP will also attract local banks, water and electricity (REGIDESO), content providers, government applications (COMGOV), and Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR),

“We hope that before the end of this year, BurundiX will be the second IXP in East Africa, after Kenya,” said Ndayiragije. “In the near future, all the local remaining ISP will join courtesy of our collaboration with the ARCT (ICT Regulator) we have put in place, a new taskforce to see how remaining ISPs (LEO, ONATEL, USAN, CBINET, TEMPO AFRICELL, OSANET) will join BurundiX in the two coming months.”

Come and meet BurundIX amongst other African IXPs at the AfPIF event in Dakar starting from 26 – 28 August 2014.