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Infrastructure and Community Development 14 May 2021

Internet Society Offers to Assist Establishing ‘XChange Point’ in Inuvik

This article was originally published in The Inuvik Drum.

Town pens letter of support for idea that would expand Internet activity in Delta

Inuvik Town Council has penned a letter of support for establishing an “Internet XChange Point” (IXP) in the Beaufort Delta, should one or more of the NWT’s Telecommunications companies choose to pursue it.

Internet Society of Canada Growth and Trust director Dr. Hosein Badran explained what an IXP is to Town Council during their Jan. 25 Committee of the Whole meeting. Effectively, it’s a bridge that allows for faster Internet.

“We can optimise the behaviour of the network,” he said. “If we can identify that the sending party and receiving party are both part of the same network, we can bypass the transit links and make the traffic through the local destination within the same network.

“Its main purpose is to save bandwidth on the transit capacity and also to improve experience for the end-user by eliminating a significant portion of the delay that is endured.”

An IXP is a collection of servers that handle Internet traffic locally instead of sending it out to a larger node. Currently, Internet traffic in Inuvik is routed down south, even if it is something completely local such as emailing someone across town. Consequentially, a lot of energy is lost moving data around.

With an IXP, Badran explained, information would be processed locally, speeding up Internet connections considerably.

“The higher the throughput, the lower the delay,” he said. “And the better user experience in terms of accessing online platforms, be it for shopping, movies, education, financial services.

“The closer you bring them to the end-user, the better the performance is.”

Another benefit he noted was increased local Internet traffic. He cited Kenya as an example, which installed an IXP in the year 2000 and has since seen an explosion in .ke domain names and locally hosted web sites and business. Before, just about all of the country’s traffic was routed to South Africa and back.

Badran added that major content providers like Google, Amazon and Netflix also tend to establish localized cache service on IXPs, which also speeds up connectivity.

All that is needed, he said, was for local expertise to pick up the project — which the Internet Society has already offered up the required hardware for and is already en route to town. The system would be a server kept in a neutral location, most likely run by a non-profit established to maintain it.

After hearing Badran’s presentation, town council returned on Jan. 27 and passed a motion to pen a letter of support towards the project. The town will not be required to spend any money on the project.

Mayor Natasha Kulikowski added she had been in discussion with representatives of the Aurora Research Institute, as well as with Northwest Tel and New North Networks, since November in regards to the project.

“The town’s role is more in an advocacy and keeping the information alive,” she said. “We wouldn’t be interested in a monetary part, but we would support it.”

Learn more about Internet exchange points (IXPs), which are vital to a faster and more affordable Internet.
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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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