Keeping local traffic local. What does it mean and why is it important at MIX?

Peering & Networking World

Keeping local traffic local. What does it mean and why is it important at MIX?

By 14 June 2022 No Comments

The technical side.

Technically speaking, keeping local traffic local refers to the way Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) enable all the network providers connected to exchange traffic directly among themselves without any third network party in the middle. Indirect routing paths are managed through a Transit Provider service. 

Without IXPs, traffic going from one network to another would potentially rely on an intermediary network provider to carry it from source to destination. These transit providers can work perfectly fine, it’s how a lot of international internet traffic is processed, as it’s not financially viable for organisations to maintain direct connections to every ISP in the world—obviously!

However, this can often backfire and lead to what we call the “trombone effect”. This happens when the backbone IP sends data to another network in another city for processing. In the worst case scenario, traffic created in and destined for the same city is made to travel a huge distance to be exchanged before it then returns to the same geographical location. This can cause prohibitive latency disruption, and create poor experiences for end users.

But with a presence in an IXP, this problem is mitigated. Customers are able to shorten their transit paths and improve latency, minimise faults, and increase end-user experience. In cases where organisations have extremely latency sensitive applications, this saving is the difference between having a viable product and not.

What does it mean in practice?

Industry jargon aside, how does this look in the real world?

IXPs enable local networks to more efficiently exchange information at the common point within a country, rather than needing to exchange local internet traffic overseas. IXPs can therefore increase the affordability and quality of the internet for local communities. It’s clear that, in its relatively short lifespan, reliable and affordable internet access has become a vital utility. 

IXPs can help lower internet access costs for end users by decreasing internet service providers’ (ISPs) operating costs, allowing a greater number of regional users to access affordable internet. In addition, IXPs can ensure that traffic between local senders and local recipients use relatively cheap local connections, rather than expensive international links.

Academic institutions and small local businesses can also benefit hugely from IXPs. As the majority of their traffic is local (residents accessing the eCommerce platform of a local store, for example), exchanging with local providers at an IXP will lessen traffic congestion, increase efficiency, and lead to much improved end-user experience on applications and websites. A win for everyone!The massive growth of FinTech, online gaming, and streaming services has been global in the past few years, and we’ve definitely noticed its impact in Italy. Large businesses like this can benefit from IXPs just as much as local businesses too. 

FinTech businesses require extremely low latency connections to process thousands of complex, numerical transactions per minute. With online payments in Italy totalling $268 billion per year, financial institutions require a pretty robust digital infrastructure to continue providing an efficient service. 

The live streaming industry also experienced a boom, with an expected growth to $25 billion in the next four years alone, putting huge pressure on digital infrastructure to effectively support the increase in data. As more than half of viewers will abandon poor streams within the first 90 seconds, it’s extremely important for hosting providers to ensure high quality and low latency.

Keeping local traffic local benefits everyone, from your local store to the country’s largest financial institutions.

Peering at Italy’s leading Internet Exchange

With IXPs across Italy, (Milan metro area, Bologna and Palermo) totalling 10 points of presence (PoPs), MIX offers the perfect strategic gateway between central and southern Europe. The MIX interconnection platform offers customers an opportunity to exchange Internet traffic with enhanced network performance, increased data flow control, reducing latency and IP-Transit costs. For more information, you can reach out to our IXP experts here