New study reveals how internet exchange points (IXPs) improve the internet ecosystem in emerging markets - new study

A new Analysys Mason study quantifies the economic benefits of establishing Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in emerging markets. The study, entitled 'Assessment of the impact of Internet Exchange Points – Empirical study of Kenya and Nigeria', was commissioned by the Internet Society (

As the Internet increasingly globalizes, the interconnection between networks, content providers and users is more and more critical to creating the 'network of networks' that is the Internet. At the center of this globalization are IXPs, facilities where all Internet players can interconnect directly to each other, thereby improving quality of service and reducing transmission costs. IXPs have already played a key role in the development of an advanced Internet ecosystem across North America, Europe and Asia. Today, the number of IXPs is increasing in Africa, despite a more challenging economic and telecommunications environment.

Early in the Internet development cycle in most countries, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) often find it cost-effective to use their international Internet connections to exchange domestic traffic. The establishment of an IXP in the country enables local ISPs to connect directly together and exchange domestic traffic, saving on international transit costs while improving performance.

The new study quantifies how IXPs enable Kenya and Nigeria to save millions of dollars in telecommunications costs, and raise additional revenues for these countries, while simultaneously speeding up local data exchange, and encouraging the development of locally hosted content and services. For example:

  • The Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) has dramatically reduced the latency of local traffic from 200-600ms to 2-10ms on average, while saving local ISPs nearly USD1.5 million per year on international connectivity charges.
  • In Nigeria, the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) has experienced a similar reduction in latency while currently saving operators nearly USD1 million in connectivity costs per year.
  • In Nigeria, the presence of the IXP has encouraged the repatriation of financial platforms for online banking that were previously hosted overseas, while in Kenya the IXP has helped speed citizens' access to online tax and customs services offered by the Kenya Revenue Authority.
  • The presence of effective IXPs induced Google to place a cache in both countries in Spring 2011, which has significantly increased the amount of locally distributed content (notably YouTube videos) at faster speeds.
  • Improved access to local content has increased usage, helping to increase the mobile data market by at least USD6 million per year in Kenya.

"This is a unique study to quantify the benefits of these best practice IXPs. It demonstrates the central role IXPs have had in developing the ecosystems in each country and paving the way for future growth, particular in facilitating advanced services such as cloud applications," says Michael Kende, Analysys Mason Partner and lead author of the study.

Commenting on the study, Karen Rose, senior director of development strategy at the Internet Society believes: "This study puts into clear context the commonly accepted but seldom quantified proposition that IXPs are essential for any country aspiring to tap into the global Internet economy. Offering more than just cost and performance benefits, well-run IXPs serve as a catalyst to dramatically enrich a country's Internet ecosystem, opening a new world of possibilities with comparably minimal investment."

The full study is available on the Internet Society website

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