Internet is a worldwide network connecting millions of computers and over 100 countries are linked into exchanges of data, news and opinions. With this, local Internet traffic passes through different international channels before it goes back to its country of origin. Hence, Internet Exchange Points (IXs) are formed.
An IX is a physical infrastructure through which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) exchange Internet traffic among their networks. The main purpose of an IX is to provide direct connectivity to all networks, via the exchange, instead of through one or more third-party networks. There are many advantages of direct connection but the most important of which are faster access to local destinations and reduction of international costs leading to a common good.
Indonesian IX as an archetype
The first ISP in Indonesia is Indonet, which started its operation in Jakarta in 1994 before the Indonesian government began issuing licenses for ISP operations. Indonet had its initial Internet connectivity of 9600 bits modem dialing through IDD to Singapore. Through said connection, TELNET and IRC services were freely available to anyone with a modem.
In 1995, the Indonesia government decided to issue Internet service licenses through its Department of Post and Telecommunications, realizing the tight association of Internet to Indonesian telecommunications industry. Subsequently, licenses were issued to two Indonesian ISPs – the Indonet and RadNet. The two ISPs used dedicated International connections via Indosat’s submarine cable to Sprint (United States) and SingTel (Singapore). Since the costs of subject international connections are high, Indonesian Internet users were charged for the connection they use.
In early 1996, the Indonesian government issued 27 ISP licenses, which gave rise to the formation of the Asosiasi Penyelenggara Jasa Internet Indonesia (APJII) or the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association, which worked closely with the regulators. Internet connectivity tariffs was then issued to the end users which still exists today. Out of 27 issued licenses, 15 of which were in operation before 1997. Hence, there were 15 International connections from Indonesia to the Internet, which divided one ISP to another. All ISPs were burdened with ½ circuit cost to Indosat and ½ circuit cost to the United States. At the end of 1997, 45 licenses were issued by the Indonesian government with 35 ISPs in operation.
With 35 active ISPs, the need for interconnecitivity among them became an important concern. Local traffic was going through international channels and several hops before it came back to Indonesia. Thus, a solution was needed to provide faster access to local Indonesian destinations and cut down international costs. There were several government initiated programs to solve the local bandwidth and connectivity issues but never came to effect. As the need arises, the ISPs formed a task force in June 1997 to develop an IX, giving birth to the Indonesia Internet eXchange (IIX), a logistical network which would connect every Indonesian ISP to a single exchange point. The IIX was officially launched in August 1997. To date, the IIX continues to keep all intra-Indonesian Internet traffic within Indonesia. Further, it created the foundation for a comprehensive national Internet infrastructure where all Indonesian ISPs collaborate for common good.
The IIX Pioneers
Two persons played a major role in the formation of the IIX – Sanjaya Sanjaya and Johar Alam Rangkuti. Sanjaya became the Secretary General for the APJII and oversaw the establishment of IDNIC (country top-level domain ID) and IIX. He joined Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) in 2001 and served as a Project Manager for the MyAPNIC, including the APNIC Certification Authority’s implementation and management. Now, Sanjaya is the APNIC Services Director and one of the members of the APNIC Executive Team. As Sanjaya left, Johar took over the Internet Data Center (IDC) Indonesia and IIX management. Johar believes that the most significant part of Indonesians’ freedom of expression is the local Indonesian Internet and their access to global Internet. His perseverance paved the way for a new IDC, which was painted with four seasons of colors, mirroring the freer Indonesian Internet.
DOST-ASTI’s IX advocacy
As an ardent exponent of IX, the DOST-ASTI and the Philippine Open Internet Exchange (PhOpenIX) organized a short talk to be held on 16 April 2012 at ASTI Bldg., C.P. Garcia Ave., U.P. Technology Park Complex, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City. The Agency invited Johar, Administrator of the IIX and Chairman of the IDC Indonesia, as the resource speaker. Said event will be participated in by various staff from several telecommunications companies in the Philippines. The event will also be streamed live by the PREGINET. It will be available at http://www.phopenix.net at 8:00 am, on said date.
*This video best explains what an internet exchange is all about.