Blog 1: Introduction to Internet Exchange(s) & National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)

● Introduction to the Internet Exchanges

The Internet is central for most socio-economic functions today, further, it is referred to as a network of networks. These networks enable communication through an exchange of data, which requires appropriate infrastructure; a need which is met by Internet Exchanges (IXPs). IXPs play an integral role within the Internet ecosystem. They act as nodal points which facilitate data exchange between different Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and other network providers. IXPs are much like an airport; a single, central landing point, working in close association with other stakeholders to engage with diverse carriers facilitating a seamless flow of passengers (likened to data packets traveling in and across networks). Keeping the analogy in mind one can see the operational aspects of IXPs, they enable internet accessibility and affordability for end-users, by reducing operational costs, support network peering, reduce latency, and paves way for other tertiary initiatives (including cybersecurity, boosting and legitimising national digital presence of end users, among others).

● Brief background of NIXI

National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), the Internet Exchange (IX) is operating as a not for profit company in India, working with the vision to facilitate inclusive, secure, and equitable internet to every citizen. NIXI primarily perform(s) three operation(s) through its divisions i.e. IX NIXI which is operating peering of ISPs, .IN registry which allocates and registers domain names and Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers (IRINN) responsible for managing the National Internet Registry (NIR) in India. Additionally, it has been instrumental in representing India’s stance at global forum(s) including but not limited to the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), In-ternet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) etcetera as designated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). NIXI also plays a vital role in global internet governance by making it more inclusive, accessible, and responsive to local communities and directly contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

To simply elaborate the role played by NIXI in our day-to-day activities, consider the following example; as in the case of the Indian Railway, consider the case of a user sitting in Delhi who has to travel to Kanpur. In order to initiate the booking, a user is required to visit the IRCTC booking platform which is working on the .IN domain, consequent to which it is mapped with an IP address which is delegated by the IRINN. The connecting part, through peering services, between the user visiting and booking a ticket on the IRCTC platform, irrespective of the network on which she is operating, is fulfilled by the NIXI IX which connects both of them completing the loop and providing a booked ticket for her travel journey. All these actions are facilitated by NIXI, in its various capacities.

India has entered into the period of Amrit Kaal (i.e. period from 75 years to 100 years of India’s Independence) with the vision to inculcate technology, knowledge based economy, strong public finances, and a robust financial sector[1]. This vision can be partnered and supported by NIXI which would act as a catalyst in the overall development of the nation. The Indian domain (.IN) has made an impact by easing the business cost online, creating trust, providing accessibility, ensuring global presence, building brand value, and establishing secure conduct of business while retaining its identity of being from Bharat.

● Conclusion

As the society's dependence on the Internet increases, the relevance of IXPs will rise up to meet digital needs. India is home to the largest global digital user-base and NIXI plays an integral role in contouring the ways of digital interaction for the country through infrastructural development, digital governance and building access which is founded on the principles of community service; an extension of the government for last-mile connectivity. We advocate a standardized quality of service, for all end-users, by developing and supporting initiatives for digital social upliftment. Further, as per the Economic Survey 2022-23, “India’s massive digital infrastructure played a crucial role in driving technology adoption, with public digital platforms becoming the bedrock of India’s digital advantage”, with NIXI sustaining this cause since its inception.