NIXI asks TRAI to mandate telecom companies to join any online exchange

The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has written a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, asking both telecom service providers and ISPs to compulsorily connect to at least one Internet exchange point. This comes after the regulator noted that while a wide distribution of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) is essential for the entire Internet ecosystem and to encourage broadband penetration in India, the penetration of Internet Exchange points remains weak.

However, telecom operators Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio disagree with NIXI, stating that telecom service providers (TSPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be given the freedom to choose IXP to join, and they should do so themselves in agreement.

Online exchange ExtremeIX stated that while connecting to IXPs is an integral part of CSPs, rather than a mandate, the industry should understand why remittance service providers choose not to join Internet exchanges. Once the issues are corrected, it is normal for telecom service providers to be urged to join in.

Low spread of IXPs

Unlike the rest of the world, where Internet exchanges are an integral part of the Internet infrastructure, telecom operators in India still do not rely on Internet exchanges such as NIXI, ExtremeIX and DEC-IX. In her advisory paper, Regulatory framework for promoting the data economy through the establishment of data centers, content delivery networks and interconnection exchanges in India, TRAI noted that in the case of India’s NIXI National Internet Exchange, there was resistance among service providers against joining the exchange, preferring instead to set up their own peering facilities on rival exchanges, or within ISPs. As a result, NIXI carries less traffic than its global peers. For the Internet exchange ecosystem in general, the regulator noted that the penetration of Internet exchange points remains low, concentrated in specific cities.

Accordingly, NIXI required the regulator that the ISPs/ISPs be authorized to interconnect at least one IXP in the LSA (Link State Declaration).

“Parallel to IXPs is expected to reduce connection fees and latency, ensuring high-quality broadband for end consumers. IXPs are also developing an Internet ecosystem that fosters the development of various Internet-related activities, thus increasing the digital economy.”

business line It was previously reported that NIXI has plans to add an additional 16 exchanges after remaining stagnant at 8-9 exchanges over the past decade.

On the other hand, telecom companies remain unanimous in their argument that they should not be tasked with connecting to Internet exchanges.

“Interconnection option should be given to ISPs/ISPs. While doing so, ISPs/ISPs will have the flexibility to select the IXP of their choice based on traffic volume, technical and business factors, as well as enhance the consumer experience. Vodafone Idea said that the cost of promoting IXPs at the country level should not be subsidized by telecom service providers by imposing LSA-level interconnection as it would lead to inefficiencies inherent in the ecosystem.”

Bharti Airtel said, “We believe that there should not be any mandate to communicate in the exchange because it is a decision of the ISP how it wants to compete with other ISPs. At present, there is no mandate on arranging peering between ISPs and the market has grown Significantly on its own; therefore, we see no reason to mandate any interconnection in the exchanges.”

She said symmetry decisions should be driven by operational requirements.

“While IXPs should allow non-discriminatory access to all ISPs and other players, it should also be left to ISPs to decide which IXPs they intend to join. This will create healthy competition between IXPs and allow effective growth of IXPs,” Jio said.

The resistance of carriers to mandate to join Internet exchanges is very significant since they (Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel) hold a large portion of the broadband consumer base.

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March 11, 2022