Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Berkman Center
Interconnection in Developing Countries
IXP Library
Project leader: Andrew McLaughlin

Led by Fellow Andrew McLaughlin, the Berkman Center has launched an initiative to support the organization and deployment of neutral, non-profit Internet exchange points (IXPs) in developing countries.

Think of an Internet exchange point as nothing more than a room with a switch, into which a number of Internet service providers (ISPs) plug their cables. ISPs use the shared switch to interconnect with each other directly, so that their customers' Internet traffic can be sent to the destination ISP via a peering arrangement. Internet exchange points enable domestic-bound Internet traffic to be routed locally, without having to traverse the slower and more expensive international satellite circuits on which nearly every developing country ISP must depend.

Currently, nearly all of the world's poorest countries lack these low-cost but essential facilities. Notable exceptions include the Kenyan Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) and the Mozambique Internet Exchange (MOZ-IX).

Through research, documentation, in-country workshops, and the counselling of governments and regulators, the Interconnection project seeks to catalyze and accellerate the deployment of IXPs in developing countries. As part of the Berkman Center's Open Economies initiative, the Interconnection project also addresses a range of related issues, such as the rules and regulations governing ISP liability, voice-over-IP applications, fiber connectivity, and the allocation and management of spectrum for wireless networking.

In August 2002, the Berkman Center partnered with the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK), and the African Telecommunications Union to host the first East Africa Internet Forum, held in Nairobi on August 5-9. The Forum brought together senior decision makers from governments and Internet network operators, with the objective of making practical progress on speeding the growth of Internet in Africa. Andrew McLaughlin's activities at the Forum included leading a workshop on "The Law, Politics, and Economics of Interconnection," moderating a plenary session on "National Exchange Points, Regional Exchange Points & Digital Arteries as a means of Bridging the Digital Divide," and participating in technical workshops on the deployment of IXPs.

Click here for the IXP Library, with links and resources about IXPs and interconnection in developing countries.

Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School