Q: What is an Internet Exchange
Point (IXP or IX) anyways?
A: An Internet exchange is
network meet-me point situate in a specific geographic area. Given that
area, various ISPs, businsses, networks, etc. agree to come to a neutral
place to exchange network traffic between themselves. This helps make their
user's "Internet experience" better because their traffic doesn't
go off to potentially far-off places, especially crossing country borders.
They can also save costs by off-loading that traffic which would otherwise
have travelled on their more expensive Internet pipes.
Here is a video
describing what an Internet Exchange (IX) is, produced by EuroIX, a consortium of European-based
Another way to look at it is to make the analogy with an airport. Airlines
make an agreement with an airport for landing rights so that the airline
can attract more business from customers who want to go through there,
on the way to other destinations.
Q: Why are you a not-for-profit
A: OttIX is not for-for-profit
for one primary reason: Neutrality between peers. Remember that ISPs are
not just businessses but they are also competitors. If an IX is established
as for-profit, the perception could arise that eventually the IX could evolve
into something else (like another competitor) through a share takeover, or
worse, the company overseeing its operation could simply dictate how it
is run with no further recourse. Operating as a not-for-profit, there are
members instead of shareholders those risks are now mitigated to a degree:
Participation by each ISP/peer/member makes the IX work.
Q: What is peering?
A: This is when two or more
orgianisations choose to exchange network traffic between them, based on
some mutually beneficial motive. In OttIX's case, this is done through
the terms of its MOU and policies. The OttIX
Portal can also guide in the
establishment of peering.
Q: What is BGP?
A: This is an advanced Internet
protocol that is used to transmit and receive the exchange of network address
blocks. The protocol is setup between two or more peers to exchange network
routes (your address blocks). Once an exchange of routes is done, traffic
will flow between those peers. The Internet itself runs on this protocol
and so does an Internet exchange point.
Q: Who can connect to OttIX?
A: Anyone can. ISP's, telcos,
large businesses, government, research labs, etc. In cases where it doesn't
make sense to connect a small organization, it might be best to convince your
Internet supplier to connect to OttIX or to see if they can get you a link.
(You should also check to see if you are already OttIX Connected first, but if you believe going direct is in your
best interest, by all means go ahead.)
Q: Why would someone want to or
not want to connect to an Internet exchange?
A: There are several reasons
why connecting to an Internet Exchange these days may make no sense:
- Cost of network transport is lower;
- Cost of network and other associated equipment is lower; and,
- Cost of Internet transit has gone down.
Conversely, there are some very good reasons to use an Internet exchange:
- There is a value towards general network performance since connecting
to an Internet exchange enhances it;
- Keeping traffic local such as keeping Canadian traffic in Canada; and,
- Strategic connectivity to work around Internet outages whether caused
by accident or through malicious activity.
Q: How many peers does OttIX
A: This can vary, but the
best place to see is in the Peers page.
Q: How do I peer with OttIX?
A: Be sure to read the section
on governance and follow the instructions on
the application form. And of course,
read on. You'll also need to consult with your local-loop supplier to see if
you can connect to the site.
Q: What routes traffic at OttIX?
A: At OttIX, there are two
- A member can choose to peer with another member directly using BGP; or,
- A member can peer with the OttIX route servers, so that the member can
obtain all the routes heard there, which means, a) hearing every member's
routes heard there, and b) minimizing the amount of work needed to establish
a BGP peering session at OttIX. All configuration is done through the
In either case, BGP version 4 is required for all peering sessions. Using a
protocol such as IS-IS or OSPF (or even IGRP, EIGRP or RIP) is NOT permitted
for both Internet operations and security reasons.
Q: What do I need to peer with OttIX?
A: You need:
- Your own Internet connection;
- A router capable of using BGP version 4;
- Your own AS number (obtained via ARIN)
- Your local-loop supplier to supply you an ethernet connection to the OttIX
peering switch via fibre optics.
Q: What is the smallest port service OttIX offers?
The smallest port service is 100Mb/s, which is being phased out. The
end-of-sale for the 100Mb/s services is December 31, 2014, while the
end-of-support for 100Mb/s peers is December 31, 2017.
Q: How much does it cost to
establish a connection to OttIX?
A: The OttIX Services Definition and Fee Schedule sets out the current pricing to connect to OttIX.
Additionally, there is the cost for whatever you use to
connect to OttIX, from the local-loop to all the bits and pieces needed to
Q: What facilities are available
A: OttIX connectivity is
available at the following POP:
- 264 Albert, Cage 18
- Co-located with the Federal GigaPOP, within a
Rogers facility. Both Rogers/Atria and Bell fibre and services
available. NPA-NXX: 613-489/613-238/613-567
There's also an availability matrix listing
port availability on the OttIX switch fabrics.
Q: What does my local-loop
provider need to know to install the connection?
A: OttIX is located at
the site listed above. They will need the NPA-NXX listed above and they
should be in contact with us to get the lastest info on the site contact.
If the connection is coming in at 1Gb/s or 10Gb/s, the prospective peer
must supply the optics according to OttIX's specification. Existing peers
need to demonstrate at least 30% utilization on their existing 100Mb/s
Q: Is it OK to use a PC as a router?
A: Yes, this is perfectly fine.
A software-based router such as BIRD, Quagga or XORG can be used, but please
note that due to the varying protocol support between these and dedicated
routing appliances, we cannot help you troubleshoot or support your PC
router deployment. There is simply not enough resources on our side to do
this. So if you decide to go ahead, you are on your own.
Q: Will you allow transit?
A: Depends on how you define the
- If you mean announcing your customer's prefixes across to other peers,
and having your peer's customer's prefixes announced to your customers,
then of course.
- If you mean buying Internet bandwidth from another provider that happens
to be at OttIX, then yes, by all means, go ahead. However, it is STRONGLY
recommended that transit connectivity be established between your co-located
router and your provider's. This is because there is no guarantee that
you'll get the bandwidth you negotiated with your upstream across the OttIX
switch fabric. It cannot be stressed enough: OttIX makes no bandwidth
guarantees just because you have one from your transit provider. Use
In short, yes absolutely!
Q: Will I be able to co-locate a router at OttIX?
A: There is limited access to
rack space at OttIX, let alone bringing-in peer routing equipment.
Q: Will I be able to co-locate a
server at OttIX?
A: As stated above, there really
is limited space at OttIX. But, one of OttIX's goals is to promote the
interests of its members, and to that end, if you really want a server
co-located, why not choose an OttIX-connected ISP
Q: Does OttIX have a backup power source?
A: Only the OttIX switch and
route servers will be backed up by UPS.
Q: What protocols can I run over
A: You can run anything you
like. OttIX currently has IPv4, both unicast and multicast traffic (yes,
MBONE access is available) as well as IPv6 unicast and multicast. Anything
else like IPX, AppleTALK, CLNS, etc. is not permitted.
Q: Does OttIX support jumbo
A: OttIX does not support
jumbo frames at this time, largely due to the fact that there isn't
an industry standard on the size of such ethernet frames. Consequently MTU
sizes of 1500 bytes are the only MTU supported.
Q: What applications will work
over OttIX? Will VOIP work?
A: You can run anything you
like. It doesn't matter what the application is, as OttIX doesn't filter
content nor does it ever intend to (and it isn't even possible given the
architecture of an Internet exchange). Content filtering and application
filtering thus becomes the domain of the member ISP, as it's meant to be.
Q: How are statistics calculated?
What about that snazzy graph at the main page?
A: Traffic stats are gathered
via SNMP, which are then fed into Tobi Oetiker's
RRDTool. The counters we track are only the inbound traffic from each peer.
We don't count inter-switch trunks or inter-switch cross-connects on the
graph on the main page. This is because doing so would inflate the numbers,
giving it the appearance that more traffic is flowing across OttIX than there
actually is - which gives a false view to the public.
For internal purposes, we do count and monitor traffic on the inter-switch
trunks and ports to ensure that traffic levels are not saturating the links, which
would be a huge detriment to our peers. These stats are not hidden from our
peers, precisely so that they can hold OttIX to account. They are available to
members via the Portal.
Copyright 2013 The Ottawa Internet Exchange.