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Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) 13 March 2019

IXDO Project: An Internet Exchange Point in the Dominican Republic

For more than a decade, different organizations from civil society and the private sector have been involved in efforts to establish an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in the Dominican Republic, with no success. Possible causes were either lack of interest at the time, the maturity level of the ICT sector, or even lack of financial support. The Internet Society Dominican Republic Chapter decided to discuss those outcomes with different stakeholders and promote an atmosphere to proceed when the moment was right.

Among efforts from the past, it is important to mention two of them, which made important advances: (1) the datacenter firm NAP del Caribe (NDC), invited interested local Internet Service Providers (ISP) to establish either an IXP or private peering; (2) the academic sector worked to establish a local research network, Red de Avanzada Dominicana de Estudio e Investigación (RADEI), which sought the support of the local regulator Instituto Dominicano de las Telecomunicaciones (INDOTEL).

In 2017, the Internet Society Chapter Dominican Republic (ISOC-DO) board, after considering past efforts and brainstorming on different approaches to succeed in the IXDO initiative, taking inspiration on the regional trends, and locating experts to support our goal, decided to design the annual local Internet Governance Forum (IGF-DO) around the topic of IXPs, using the slogan “From infrastructure to human rights.” The IGF-DO-2017 focused on different high-level discussions about IXPs, with a multistakeholder approach that included different perspectives from representatives of sectors such as regulation, the private sector, the public sector, academia, technical communities, and civil society.

IGF-DO-2017 also included a low-level special workshop in collaboration with LACNIC, Columbus Networks, and the Internet Society. It focused on technicians and network specialists representing different ISPs as well as academics and other stakeholders with a technical scope on different IXP subjects such as evolution, emerging operation models, best practices, benefits, and trends in its global adoption.

The results of the discussions and interactions enabled a good environment where the different stakeholders agreed and expressed interest to support and collaborate in launching the IXP of Dominican Republic (IXDO) initiative in 2018.

In 2018, the ISOC-DO board met to design the 2018-2019 plan and decided to include, as one of the main goals, development of the IXDO project. We took advantage of the enthusiasm of the past event and called for an immediate meeting to create an IXDO task force (IXDO-TF) to stimulate the collaboration of legal and technical representatives of the different interested stakeholders. Different proposals were discussed to bootstrap the IXDO operation model, the place to establish it, and the required resources based on a bottom-up orientation. A formal proposal was presented by NDC which offered its ICT infrastructure to support the IXDO operation, based on investments made in the past for the same purpose, a co-location service, a meeting room, and other important required resources. The proposal acknowledged the neutrality which must prevail to manage the resources. This was based on the decision to adopt the governance model.

The board of ISOC-DO, with support from LACNIC and the Internet Society, participated in the proposal’s assessment, considering: the alignment of the proposal to the goals of the project; the strategic presence of the different ISPs which amounted to 99% of Internet provision in Dominican Republic (DR); the strength and quality of their infrastructure; and other elements of value. Some adjustments were suggested by the board to align the offer to assure neutrality, long-term scope, viability, and support. The adjustments were immediately accepted by the NDC.

That is how the ISOC-DO board decided to contract a consultant to act as the project manager, who immediately defined the project charter, the budget, and all paperwork to be submitted to the Internet Society Beyond the Net grants program. By August 2018 we were contacted by Beyond the Net to inform us that our grant was approved. The support, expertise, and collaboration from the Internet Society, LACNIC, LAC-IX, and Packet Clearing House (PCH) were fundamental in the quick advance of the IXDO project to reach its current stage.

In the meantime, we decided to initiate a process to formalize and incorporate ISOC-DO as a non-governmental, non-profit organization to strengthen the credibility and commitment of the project, as well as the governance, the organizational management, financial transparency, and related issues. This process is in its final stage.

By September 2018 we called a meeting with the IXDO-TF, for a progress update and to ask a formality from the different stakeholders. It was agreed to create a non-binding multilateral Letter of Intent integrating non-disclosure clauses to have an open discussion of the different subjects, guarantee the collaboration of the participants, customize the operation model, and define the IXDO terms and conditions to be signed when agreed. We also agreed to create a letter of adhesion to accept new interested parties wishing to join the initiative.

Some benefits we expect from deploying the IXDO are:

  1. Local interchange of traffic among ISPs, so that all Internet traffic originated and terminated within the country flows efficiently.
  2. Improve quality of traffic, reducing latency, operating costs of local and international connections, and gradually achieve efficiency.
  3. Promote the development of local digital content, including research networks from universities, and attract international content delivery networks for establishment in the country.
  4. Operational coordination between ISPs to improve Internet access services.
  5. Articulate planning among different ISPs for the adoption of different initiatives such as new communication standards (such as IPV6), routing best practices to strengthen security (such as MANRS), and other related initiatives.
  6. Promote inclusion by allowing new interested parties to join.

As I am writing this note, the technical committee of IXDO-TF is scheduling a new meeting to adjust the bootstrapped model according to the team’s discussions, available resources, scope, deadlines, and complementary matters.

For further information about the project, and to keep you updated, we have created the official website of the project https://ixp.org.do (written in Spanish). We have a enabled a contact form, located in the section Contáctanos,” where you might send us feedback or comments about our project.

Read the Internet Society’s policy brief on IXPs.

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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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