In Alberta there are currently two Internet Exchange Points (IXPs): the YYCIX in Calgary and the YEGIX in Edmonton. These IXPs allow networks to interconnect directly, rather than through one or more (international) third party networks.142 The advantages of a direct interconnection are primarily related to cost, latency, bandwidth, and network resiliency.
The YYCIX was introduced in 2013 and has 24 peers, transferring 270.65 Mbps, on average (Figure 12). The YEGIX was created in 2015 and currently only has two open connections, with six more scheduled to connect.
Figure 12. Aggregate total traffic of YYCIX in the year ending 13 July 2016143
Figure 13. Aggregate total traffic of YYCIX in the week ending 13 July 2016144
As a result of the internet exchanges in Calgary and Edmonton, Tier 1 ISP Hurricane Electric now peers in both IXs. Hurricane Electric advertises transit fees starting at $0.32 USD/Mbps/month145 (before transport and data centre fees). It is of note that while Hurricane Electric’s internet is advertised on a per Mbps fee, it is only available for purchase in increments of 1,000 Mbps.
A connection to a local IXP may allow regional ISPs to transfer data without limit or cost, vastly improving the connection speed between customers of two adjacent ISPs. A direct interconnection also avoids the need for data to travel through other cities or continents in order to move from one network to another, thus reducing latency and keeping local traffic local (Figure 14).
Figure 14. The network paths to connect two Canadian internet customers through a Canadian IX (green) and an American IX (red)146
According to Packet Clearing House, “a strong domestic Internet exchange point is the first and most critical component of a cyberwarfare defense”147 because countries without an Internet Exchange are heavily dependent upon international data circuits for their domestic connectivity. In the case of the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia, denial-of-service attacks were halted at the country's internet exchange and had minimal impact on domestic internet traffic.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority considers Internet Exchanges to be an essential component of internet infrastructure, and promotes Internet Exchange development across the country. CIRA encourages government IT departments to facilitate Internet Exchange development and improve the Canadian internet landscape by working closely with Internet Exchanges.
The benefits of peering for governments include network resiliency. If a government’s internet service provider is taken offline by a denial of service attack, the government can lose connectivity to the whole of its citizenry.
However, if the government’s internet service provider peers at Internet Exchange Points, then its services remain available to its citizens by virtue of the connections to other internet service providers in that Internet Exchange.
142. Wikipedia. Internet Exchange Point article. Accessed 17 May 2016.
143. YYCIX. Graphs, 13 July 2016. Accessed 13 July 2016.
144. YYCIX. Graphs, 13 July 2016. Accessed 13 July 2016.
145. Hurricane Electric. Internet Services. Accessed 12 June 2016.
146. Woodock, B. and Edelman, B. Towards Efficiencies in Canadian Internet Traffic Exchange, 2012. Packet Clearing House for the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. Accessed 14 June 2016.
147. Stapleton-Gray, R. and Woodcock, B (Packet Clearing House). ACM Queue. National Internet Defense—Small States on the Skirmish Line - Attacks in Estonia and Georgia highlight key vulnerabilities in national Internet infrastructure, 19 January 2011. Accessed 29 July 2016.