Internet Exchanges: Policy-Driven Evolution
Internet exchanges are systems within the Internet which enable networks to meet and exchange data and control information. In order to enable networks to meet and exchange information, Internet exchanges (IXs) must do much more than merely forward packets. They must provide a robust environment in which differences between the attached client networks, such as in technologies used by different networks or in administrative and operational policies and procedures, do not become barriers to interconnection. Additionally, they must have policies that do not hinder competition between classes of attached networks (such as the often conflicting business interests of large, nationwide networks versus smaller, regional networks). Two policies which have had a tremendous effect on the configuration of today's Internet are commercialization, the use of the Internet for commercial as well as research and educational purposes, and privatization, the implementation and operation of the Internet networks by the private sector rather than the government sector. The interaction between the policies of commercialization and privatization and the evolution of Internet exchanges is examined here in detail.