Internet Exchange Point

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What Does Internet Exchange Point Mean?

An internet exchange point (IXP) is a physical network access point through which major network providers connect their networks and exchange traffic. The primary focus of an exchange point is to facilitate network interconnection through an exchange access point instead of third-party networks.

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Internet exchange points were created to minimize the part of an Internet service provider’s (ISP) network traffic that had to go through an upstream provider. IXPs provide a common place for ISPs to exchange their Internet traffic between autonomous network systems. The exchange points are often established in the same city to avoid latency.

Techopedia Explains Internet Exchange Point

The advantages of Internet exchange points include:

  • Allowing high speed data transfer
  • Reducing latency
  • Providing fault tolerance
  • Improving routing efficiency
  • Improving bandwidth

The physical infrastructure includes one or more high-speed network Ethernet switches. The traffic exchange in an IXP is enabled by the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). The traffic exchange is managed through a mutual peering agreement conformed to by all ISPs. The ISPs normally specify the routes through the peering relationship. They may choose to route the traffic through their own addresses or addresses of other providers in the network. In some scenarios, the IXP serves as a backup link to allow traffic to pass through in case of a direct link failure.

The operational costs of an IXP are often shared among all the participating ISPs. For sophisticated exchange points, ISPs are charged a monthly or annual fee based on the port type and traffic volume.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.