The Internet is a large collection of separate networks. In order to establish end-to-end connectivity from one network to the other, they somehow need to be interconnected, be it directly or indirectly. An Internet Exchange (IX) can play a supporting role by offering a shared infrastructure where multiple networks can meet at a central location in order to exchange IP traffic with one another.
The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), based in the Amsterdam metro area, is the largest and most successful IX in the world. Its core business has always been to focus on the continuous offering of a stable, secure and non-blocking distributed local switching infrastructure. This is an important, albeit purely a facilitating role in terms of interconnection. Besides the fact that parties join AMS-IX voluntarily, AMS-IX does not have insight or part in the process of negotiating the possible exchange of traffic that takes part between connected parties. Networks that connect to AMS-IX, bilaterally negotiate amongst each other the terms and conditions under which they exchange whatever kind of IP traffic. Or under which they do not.
AMS-IX is an association: it is run for the mutual benefit of all the connected parties, its members, and is governed by them collectively. The mutual member interest is reliable, affordable, accessible interconnection, and history has proven that this is done best in the long term through AMS-IX’s deliberately neutral, independent and not-for-profit approach with regard to its IX operations. The member base is increasingly international and the majority of members, since a number of years, are from abroad (a 20/80% distribution of national versus international). This means AMS-IX cannot act as a branch organisation on behalf of its very diversified member base. And neither can AMS-IX speak on behalf of individual members or a sub selection. These organisations will have to be addressed individually when it comes to issues that touch on their specific commercial, technical and governance needs.
Up until now Dutch government related parties have valued AMS-IX as a facilitator of reliable (local) Internet infrastructure. AMS-IX is recognised to be completely transparent as to the way its IX operation is run. AMS-IX membership is open to any legal party that has its own Autonomous System Number (ASN), which implies that the corresponding network commits itself to deploy alternative routes to interconnect with other networks. Decisions with regard to routes, capacity and redundancy are the sole responsibility of the network owners, and bilateral efforts between these ASNs are required to exchange traffic and establish peering between networks.
The approach above has made AMS-IX an important business enabler for connected parties. Their networks costs decrease, performance improves and redundancy increases. But the positive side effects are larger: AMS-IX functions as a catalyst, boosting dynamics and growth in the local economy and ICT infrastructure. All a regulator needs to deal with is to ensure that there is a level playing field, avoiding barriers that prevent free and fair competition. Agents then have more choice, provided an open market without dominant players and unnecessary legislation continues to exist. Through the benefits for its members, the role AMS-IX fulfills also indirectly is of value to end-users in terms of choice, (higher) speed and (lower) prices. And other stakeholders like data centres, and even governments, benefit too in this way from a well functioning IX.
In case of unfortunate network failure, AMS-IX does not anticipate long-term malfunctioning of routes between the ASNs of its connected networks. First of all, connected parties (should) have access to various alternative means of interconnection, be it at other IXs, via dedicated private interconnects and/or through transit connectivity purchased from third party networks. But secondly, AMS-IX believes that because of its emphasis on continuity and resilience and how this has been effectuated in its technical platform and embodied in its policies as agreed upon by the members, AMS-IX itself can keep downtime to a minimum.