Conor Sanchez

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Does Establishing More IXPs Keep Data Local? Brazil and Mexico Might Offer Answers

Much like air travel, the internet has certain hubs that play important relay functions in the delivery of information. Just as Heathrow Airport serves as a hub for passengers traveling to or from Europe, AMS-IX (Amsterdam Internet Exchange) is a key hub for information getting in or out of Europe. Instead of airline companies gathering in one place to drop off or pick up passengers, it’s internet service providers coming together to swap data – lots and lots of data.

Where the world’s largest internet exchange points (IXPs) reside are mostly where you would expect to find them: advanced economies with sophisticated internet infrastructure. As internet access reached new populations around the world, however, growth in IXPs lagged and traffic tended to make some roundabout, and seemingly irrational, trips to the more established IXPs.

For example, users connected to a server just a few miles away may be surprised to discover that data will cross an entire ocean, turn 180 degrees, and cross that ocean again to arrive at its destination. This occurrence, known as the “boomeranging” or “hair-pinning” (or “trombone effect” due to the path’s shape), is especially true for emerging markets, where local ISPs are less interconnected and Continue reading