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Infrastructure and Community Development 11 June 2021

In Central Asia, Experts Discuss Opportunities to Grow IXPs

By Israel NyohFormer Communications and Outreach Manager - Africa

When the Internet Society, Asian Development Bank, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific examined the regional digital economy of Central Asia in 2015, it recommended investing in the development of Carrier-Neutral Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) to drive down connectivity costs and enable more people to connect on the Internet.

Though Internet users have increased in some parts of the region over the years, Central Asia has some of the highest connectivity costs in the world and many people remain unconnected, especially in rural regions.

To raise awareness of the benefits of peering and encourage the development of IXPs, the Internet Society, RIPE NCC, and Euro-IX are organizing a series of online events throughout 2021: Virtual Peering Series – Central Asia.

The first event in the series was held on May 11 and brought together 62 experts to discuss opportunities to develop and grow IXPs in Central Asia economies. This was chaired by Andrei Robachevsky, Senior Director, Technology Programs, Internet Society and Vahan Hovsepyan, External Relations Officer (Caucasus and Central Asia), RIPE NCC.

In their opening remarks, Jane Coffin, Senior Vice President, Internet Growth, Internet Society; Bijal Sanghani, Secretary General, Euro-IX; and Hisham Ibrahim, Community Engagement and Development Manager, RIPE NCC underlined the importance of building and growing technical communities around IXPs and improving knowledge sharing to help strengthen capacity.

The event featured a panel discussion that provided insights on how IXPs can reduce international connectivity costs, greatly improve bandwidth whilst decreasing latency, and encourage content providers and Domain Name System (DNS) operators to bring their services to local economies. The panel also discussed how to go about establishing an IXP, and best practices related to hosting, installation, and operation.

Evgeny Morozov, Chief Commercial Officer, Moscow Internet Exchange (MSK-IX) shared how MSK-IX was born, how it grew its membership, and how it overcame the challenges with regulators and other stakeholders.

Susan Forney, Hurriance Electric discussed approaching peering as way to improve operations efficiency and interconnection business relationships. This included discussing peering fundamentals and tools for building and maintaining a well-functioning IXP.

A question-and-answer session followed where the event participants expressed interest in DNS root servers, how to attract content providers, as well as the potential regulatory issues around IXPs and their members.

The high level of interaction suggests there is a great deal of interest in improving connectivity in the Central Asia economies through the development of IXPs, and flagged a number of issues. These will be discussed during the next event on Tuesday, 13 July 2021 (09.00-10.30 UTC).

Learn more about Virtual Peering Series – Central Asia

Image of Suusamyr, Kyrgyzstan ©Nyani Quarmyne/Internet Society

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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