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IXPs in Canada – Building a community, working together

CIRA is very pleased that in just over two years, five new IXPs have been established in Canada.
By Allan MacGillivray
Senior Policy Advisor to the President of CIRA

CIRA is very pleased that in just over two years, five new IXPs have been established in Canada.

This post originally appeared on the IXPToolkit website.

There has been rapid Internet exchange point (IXP) development in Canada in recent years and now the first national IXP workshop will be held in November, immediately following the annual Canadian ISP Summit which is being held November 7 to 9.

For many years, IXP development in Canada lagged behind that of many countries because of the close proximity of Canada to US IXPs in such cities as Seattle, Chicago and New York. In 2012, there were only two IXPs in Canada. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the not-for-profit operator of the .CA ccTLD, decided that it would work to help remedy the situation. 

As a ccTLD operator, CIRA was uniquely positioned to take on this role. It is a ‘neutral player’ in an environment that often requires industry competitors such as ISPs to cooperate for mutual benefit. CIRA has significant technical knowledge thanks to years of experience running its own network for its nameservers as well as its own anycast network. It also had contacts in the industry, including equipment vendors and CDN providers. 

As a not-for-profit, CIRA has experience with the governance aspects of setting up and running not-for-profit entities, which is the most common governance model for Canadian IXPs. 

Finally, CIRA had resources to contribute on a strategic basis so that newly created entities could get over the bumps of initial start-up costs. CIRA knew from its own experience that any new IXP would need to be created and ‘owned’ by the local community and CIRA always saw its role as being limited to that of a catalyst, to working with local groups, helping them to realize their vision.

CIRA is very pleased that in just over two years, five new IXPs have been established. There are now exchanges in Vancouver British Columbia, (VANIX), Calgary Alberta (YYCIX), Winnipeg Manitoba (MBIX), Montreal, Quebec (Échange Internet de Montréal QIX), and Halifax, Nova Scotia (HFXIX). CIRA staff have joined the boards of many of these IXPs, and in doing so have worked to establish a broader country-wide community for IXPs.

The next logical step in this journey is to discuss the formation of a Canadian IXP association – ‘CA-IX’. 

This fall CIRA will be hosting the CA-IX workshop on November 10th, 2016, at the Hilton Toronto. The session will start at 9AM and finish by 4PM. This event follows the Canadian ISP Summit. This workshop will provide an opportunity for Canadian IXs to meet and discuss issues of common concern as well as debate what CA-IX might look like: its mission, mandate and goals.  Speakers will include representatives from RIPE, TORIX and CIRA.

An invitation with more details will follow in the coming weeks. For those who might wish to be kept informed about this, you will need to send an email [email protected] to add them to the [email protected] mailing list.  

About the author
Allan MacGillivray

Allan provides advice and leadership on Internet governance issues and is active in the ICANN multi-stakeholder Internet governance process.