Ottawa Internet eXchange

News updated for
April 7, 2017

Members Only


Q: What is an Internet Exchange Point (IXP or IX) anyways?
A: An Internet exchange is network meet-me point situate in a specific geographic area. Given that area, various ISPs, businsses, networks, etc. agree to come to a neutral place to exchange network traffic between themselves. This helps make their user's "Internet experience" better because their traffic doesn't go off to potentially far-off places, especially crossing country borders. They can also save costs by off-loading that traffic which would otherwise have travelled on their more expensive Internet pipes.

Here is a video describing what an Internet Exchange (IX) is, produced by EuroIX, a consortium of European-based Internet exchanges.

Another way to look at it is to make the analogy with an airport. Airlines make an agreement with an airport for landing rights so that the airline can attract more business from customers who want to go through there, on the way to other destinations.

Q: Why are you a not-for-profit company?
A: OttIX is not for-for-profit for one primary reason: Neutrality between peers. Remember that ISPs are not just businessses but they are also competitors. If an IX is established as for-profit, the perception could arise that eventually the IX could evolve into something else (like another competitor) through a share takeover, or worse, the company overseeing its operation could simply dictate how it is run with no further recourse. Operating as a not-for-profit, there are members instead of shareholders those risks are now mitigated to a degree: Participation by each ISP/peer/member makes the IX work.

Q: What is peering?
A: This is when two or more orgianisations choose to exchange network traffic between them, based on some mutually beneficial motive. In OttIX's case, this is done through the terms of its MOU and policies. The OttIX Portal can also guide in the establishment of peering.

Q: What is BGP?
A: This is an advanced Internet protocol that is used to transmit and receive the exchange of network address blocks. The protocol is setup between two or more peers to exchange network routes (your address blocks). Once an exchange of routes is done, traffic will flow between those peers. The Internet itself runs on this protocol and so does an Internet exchange point.

Q: Who can connect to OttIX?
A: Anyone can. ISP's, telcos, large businesses, government, research labs, etc. In cases where it doesn't make sense to connect a small organization, it might be best to convince your Internet supplier to connect to OttIX or to see if they can get you a link. (You should also check to see if you are already OttIX Connected first, but if you believe going direct is in your best interest, by all means go ahead.)

Q: Why would someone want to or not want to connect to an Internet exchange?
A: There are several reasons why connecting to an Internet Exchange these days may make no sense:

  • Cost of network transport is lower;
  • Cost of network and other associated equipment is lower; and,
  • Cost of Internet transit has gone down.

Conversely, there are some very good reasons to use an Internet exchange:

  • There is a value towards general network performance since connecting to an Internet exchange enhances it;
  • Keeping traffic local such as keeping Canadian traffic in Canada; and,
  • Strategic connectivity to work around Internet outages whether caused by accident or through malicious activity.

Q: How many peers does OttIX have?
A: This can vary, but the best place to see is in the Peers page.

Q: How do I peer with OttIX?
A: Be sure to read the section on governance and follow the instructions on the application form. And of course, read on. You'll also need to consult with your local-loop supplier to see if you can connect to the site.

Q: What routes traffic at OttIX?
A: At OttIX, there are two choices:

  • A member can choose to peer with another member directly using BGP; or,
  • A member can peer with the OttIX route servers, so that the member can obtain all the routes heard there, which means, a) hearing every member's routes heard there, and b) minimizing the amount of work needed to establish a BGP peering session at OttIX. All configuration is done through the OttIX Portal.

In either case, BGP version 4 is required for all peering sessions. Using a protocol such as IS-IS or OSPF (or even IGRP, EIGRP or RIP) is NOT permitted for both Internet operations and security reasons.

Q: What do I need to peer with OttIX?
A: You need:

  • Your own Internet connection;
  • A router capable of using BGP version 4;
  • Your own AS number (obtained via ARIN)
  • Your local-loop supplier to supply you an ethernet connection to the OttIX peering switch via fibre optics.

Q: What is the smallest port service OttIX offers?
A: The smallest port service is 100Mb/s, which is being phased out. The end-of-sale for the 100Mb/s services is December 31, 2014, while the end-of-support for 100Mb/s peers is December 31, 2017.

Q: How much does it cost to establish a connection to OttIX?
A: The OttIX Services Definition and Fee Schedule sets out the current pricing to connect to OttIX. Additionally, there is the cost for whatever you use to connect to OttIX, from the local-loop to all the bits and pieces needed to activate it.

Q: What facilities are available at OttIX?
A: OttIX connectivity is available at the following POP:

264 Albert, Cage 18
Co-located with the Federal GigaPOP, within a Rogers facility. Both Rogers/Atria and Bell fibre and services available. NPA-NXX: 613-489/613-238/613-567

There's also an availability matrix listing port availability on the OttIX switch fabrics.

Q: What does my local-loop provider need to know to install the connection?
A: OttIX is located at the site listed above. They will need the NPA-NXX listed above and they should be in contact with us to get the lastest info on the site contact. If the connection is coming in at 1Gb/s or 10Gb/s, the prospective peer must supply the optics according to OttIX's specification. Existing peers need to demonstrate at least 30% utilization on their existing 100Mb/s links.

Q: Is it OK to use a PC as a router?
A: Yes, this is perfectly fine. A software-based router such as BIRD, Quagga or XORG can be used, but please note that due to the varying protocol support between these and dedicated routing appliances, we cannot help you troubleshoot or support your PC router deployment. There is simply not enough resources on our side to do this. So if you decide to go ahead, you are on your own.

Q: Will you allow transit?
A: Depends on how you define the word "transit":

  • If you mean announcing your customer's prefixes across to other peers, and having your peer's customer's prefixes announced to your customers, then of course.
  • If you mean buying Internet bandwidth from another provider that happens to be at OttIX, then yes, by all means, go ahead. However, it is STRONGLY recommended that transit connectivity be established between your co-located router and your provider's. This is because there is no guarantee that you'll get the bandwidth you negotiated with your upstream across the OttIX switch fabric. It cannot be stressed enough: OttIX makes no bandwidth guarantees just because you have one from your transit provider. Use private interconnects.

In short, yes absolutely!

Q: Will I be able to co-locate a router at OttIX?
A: There is limited access to rack space at OttIX, let alone bringing-in peer routing equipment.

Q: Will I be able to co-locate a server at OttIX?
A: As stated above, there really is limited space at OttIX. But, one of OttIX's goals is to promote the interests of its members, and to that end, if you really want a server co-located, why not choose an OttIX-connected ISP instead?

Q: Does OttIX have a backup power source?
A: Only the OttIX switch and route servers will be backed up by UPS.

Q: What protocols can I run over OttIX?
A: You can run anything you like. OttIX currently has IPv4, both unicast and multicast traffic (yes, MBONE access is available) as well as IPv6 unicast and multicast. Anything else like IPX, AppleTALK, CLNS, etc. is not permitted.

Q: Does OttIX support jumbo frames?
A: OttIX does not support jumbo frames at this time, largely due to the fact that there isn't an industry standard on the size of such ethernet frames. Consequently MTU sizes of 1500 bytes are the only MTU supported.

Q: What applications will work over OttIX? Will VOIP work?
A: You can run anything you like. It doesn't matter what the application is, as OttIX doesn't filter content nor does it ever intend to (and it isn't even possible given the architecture of an Internet exchange). Content filtering and application filtering thus becomes the domain of the member ISP, as it's meant to be.

Q: How are statistics calculated? What about that snazzy graph at the main page?
A: Traffic stats are gathered via SNMP, which are then fed into Tobi Oetiker's RRDTool. The counters we track are only the inbound traffic from each peer. We don't count inter-switch trunks or inter-switch cross-connects on the graph on the main page. This is because doing so would inflate the numbers, giving it the appearance that more traffic is flowing across OttIX than there actually is - which gives a false view to the public.

For internal purposes, we do count and monitor traffic on the inter-switch trunks and ports to ensure that traffic levels are not saturating the links, which would be a huge detriment to our peers. These stats are not hidden from our peers, precisely so that they can hold OttIX to account. They are available to members via the Portal.

Copyright 2013 The Ottawa Internet Exchange.