What is internet exchange point (IXP)? How does IXP work? & why is IXP important?

ixp internet

Parallel to the enormous growth of the World Wide Web during the past twenty years, network interconnection has significantly increased. New data centers were built as part of this growth, some of which garnered sizable networks and client bases owing to the operation of an Internet exchange point within or close by.

In this essay, we will attempt to discuss a number of fundamental questions in order to make it plain to us the necessity of Internet exchange points (IXPs):

What exactly is an IXP (internet exchange point)? How does it function? Furthermore, why is it important?

What is an internet exchange point?

The Internet Exchange Point (IXP) is a vital hub for Internet traffic.

It is a physical place or infrastructure that allows traffic to flow across networks. This traffic exchange is critical for the correct operation of the Internet and is required to ensure that data may move freely between various networks.

Internet infrastructure firms such as ISPs, CDNs, online companies, telecom service providers, cloud service providers, and SaaS can connect to the exchange of Internet traffic via it.

These sites are positioned at the "edges" of many networks and enable network providers to exchange transport outside of their own network.

As a result, IXP may be thought of as a meeting point for networks, where they can join and share traffic.

IXPs are not Internet service providers (ISPs), although they do allow various network operators to exchange traffic with one another.

It is frequently advised that they be located within an IXP site so that their traffic travels from other networks are substantially decreased, which improves latency, round-trip time, and even costs.

What is an internet exchange point technically?

IXP is fundamentally a data center equipped with network adapters that direct traffic between many network providers that split the expense of upkeep on the physical infrastructure.

The interchange point is technically an Ethernet adapter, much like the ones that link office computers.

IXPs are essentially big second-class LANs that are connected across one or more physical buildings utilizing one or more Ethernet adapters.

In order to transfer traffic to the routers of other networks, a network must link one or more of its routers to the Exchange Point's Ethernet adapter when it joins IXP.

How does internet exchange work?

The only significant difference between an IXP and a home network is scale; IXP points can handle several terabits/s of mutual traffic.

An IXP typically comprises a collection of network adapters that are used to join various networks. The interconnection of adapters enables the transfer of traffic between several networks.

These networks share the cost of maintaining the underlying physical infrastructure and related services in a variety of ways.

Member firms connect with one another using IXP to save expenses and speed and avoid the fees and obstacles involved with transmitting their data across a third-party network.

In addition, IXP contains a number of additional parts that assist in managing the traffic that passes over it, including routers and firewalls.

Therefore, it can be said that the main objective of IXP is to guarantee that numerous network routers are linked to one another in a reliable and efficient manner.

How do I connect to an IXP?

You must have an Ethernet connection with a minimum speed of 1 Gbps in order to connect to an IXP.

Additionally, a router that implements the BGP protocol is required. For your network to be able to exchange traffic with other IXP members, you will also need to give the IXP a /24 IPv4 subnet and a /48 IPv6 subnet. You can get in touch with the IXP operator if you don't have a router that supports BGP, and they might be willing to provide you one.

How do service providers share traffic across different networks?

Depending on the destination, the kind of networks that exchange data, and whether or not they have a shared presence within the IXP site, network providers communicate data between networks utilizing a variety of methods.

Traffic to and from other participating networks is routed via two different types of connections by network operators. it's either peering inside internet exchanges or transit connections.


When two or more networks join to exchange data within an IXP Internet exchange point, the practice is known as Peering, because data movement between primarily member networks is free.

When two bigger networks have Peering, neither side costs the other to convey data, and traffic can flow between them without the requirement for a transport provider. This is known as settlement-free Peering.

Peering is significant because it lowers the cost of transmitting traffic for member networks while increasing data interchange speed.

However, if one network is significantly bigger than another, a Peering fee may be imposed since transmitting data from network A to network B may need the employment of a transmission provider. This has a detrimental influence on data transfer speed as well as greater prices.


When a network determines that the Peering order no longer works for it, when one party has an advantage over the other due to poor traffic ratios, or when the network simply decides to start charging the other party for traffic exchange. It may proceed into the Depeering process, which is the process of reversing the Peering order.

The other party's traffic is frequently disrupted when the Peering relationship ends.


This is an additional connection type that functions differently from the peer system and gives its users complete access to the rest of the Internet.

Additionally, it functions without the tools offered by a single point of contact.

How do IXPs utilize border gateway protocol (BGP)?

Using the BGP protocol, several providers can establish unique connections.
BGP was created to enable networks to communicate with one other by sharing their IP addresses, and it also enables networks to share the IP addresses of the networks that are connected to them (their customers).

Two networks establish a BGP session, which allows traffic to move directly between them by exchanging routers with other networks.

IXPs technically consist of a network of routers that are connected to one another, as we indicated in the article's beginning. These units transfer data between various IXP-connected networks.

The BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) protocol is used by routers to transmit routing data across several networks. This makes it possible for routers to redirect traffic to its intended location.

What are the benefits of IXP?

Without an Internet exchange point (IXP), traffic exchange across networks will most likely rely on an intermediary network to transport traffic from source to destination.

These intermediary networks are referred to as transport providers; there is no issue with implementing this approach.

It is how a substantial amount of international internet traffic travels; nonetheless, this method has several potential downsides, including negative performance consequences.

Because depending on your primary ISP to handle local traffic might have a detrimental impact on performance because it occasionally transfers data to another network in an entirely another city.

The advantage of a CDN with an IXP is that it may reduce wasteful pathways by optimizing the route that data flows via inside its network.

What is the biggest IXP in the world?

The Linx London Internet Exchange, which has over 840 members and peak traffic of more than 10 Tbps, is the biggest IXP on the whole planet.

Where are IXPs located?

Internet Exchange Map is a freely accessible tool that provides a map showing the locations of all Internet exchange points (IXPs) worldwide.

The TeleGeography website offers a free tool called Internet Exchange Map. 

ixp internet exchange point list of internet exchange points
IXPs location

This map is updated and maintained often by TeleGeography.

However, if you're interested in learning more about the biggest IXPs, check out the list of Internet exchange points by size.

Challenges to Creating an IXP(Internet Exchange Point)

The establishment of an IXP may be fraught with difficulties, such as:

  • failing to locate a suitable site for the Internet exchange point that has been agreed upon by all parties.
  • obstruction of the appropriate authorities' regulatory framework and policies for the establishment of an Internet exchange point (IXP) on territory under their control.
  • inadequate infrastructure.
  • insufficient local material to support the initial demand for an Internet exchange point.
  • determining the most suitable economic model to keep Internet exchange points (IXPs) stable and operational.
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