What is an internet exchange

What is an internet exchange

An internet exchange point (IXP) is a platform that allows multiple independent networks to easily connect to one another. This direct communication between independent networks is called peering.

Why it is important to connect to a local IXP


Bandwidth costs

An internet exchange allows your network to directly communicate with other networks at a much cheaper price than via your internet transit.

For example, let’s say your network has a lot of traffic with Google. If you were not connected to an IX where Google is present, you would have to pay a transit provider for all that bandwidth. In the case where you connect your network to an IX where the remote network (ex: Google) is present as well, all that heavy traffic would be offloaded from your transit(s) to the internet exchange.

Of course, since an IXP only gives access to a select amount of networks and is much more simple than a transit network, the cost per Mb/s is much lower. A basic 10Gb/s transit can easily cost C$1500-2500/month, whereas the same port speed on an internet exchange can cost C$350-700/month.

Cross-connect costs

Here is a network diagram of a network that wants to connect to multiple networks in the same data center.

Too. Many. Fibers !! In most colocation facilities, a cross-connect can cost C$125-350/month. It makes sense to pay such price for a large amount of traffic (like a transit or a private network interconnect (PNI)) but not for a large amount of small networks.

On the other hand, here is an IXP network diagram

internet exchange

Much better ! A single cross-connect that allows your network to reach tons of other networks on the cheap.


Directly peering with networks on an internet exchange is often much more efficient than via a transit provider.

Here is a real example:

Let’s say you have a transit port with Cogent in Montreal and want to reach OVH in Beauharnois (next to Montreal). From our testing, the data goes to Chicago where Cogent and OVH communicate, then comes back to Beauharnois.

If this network had a port at the Quebec Internet Exchange (QIX) the data would have stayed in Montreal and directly go to OVH. The latency would have been smaller and the potential bandwidth much larger.

On what physical platform does an IXP run on?

Seattle internet exchange
Seattle internet exchange

Simply put, an IXP is just a big switch (or multiple switches connected together). Larger IXPs will use servers for management and route servers, but the most basic IXP only needs a standard ethernet switch with a variety of ports.

What is required to connect to an IXP?

To connect to an internet exchange, your network will need a public autonomous system number (ASN) distributed by a RIR (ARIN, RIPE etc.).

An ASN makes your network independent and makes it so your organization owns its internet resources. Once you have your own network, you will need some kind of physical way to connect to the IXP. Some IXPs allow resellers to resell ports and connectivity services to the IXP, others require you to have a common point of presence (POP) and rent a cross-connect from the colocation data center provider.

What internet exchange is available in Montreal?

quebec internet exchange

Currently, the Quebec Internet Exchange (QIX) is present in Montreal. QIX is a non-profit that regulates the internet exchange and outsources its operations to a third party operator (currently Metro Optic).

QIX hosts more than 90 ports ranging from 1Gbps to 100 Gbps. Although QIX is still considered small in the IX world, it has over 100Gbps of traffic at peak hours which is nothing to laugh at.

QIX only has two POPs at Cologix MTL 1 & 3, but since the exclusivity deal is over with Cologix, the QIX team has been talking with other data centers to deploy POPs outside of Cologix’s ecosystem.

Want to connect to QIX? Contact-us.

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