St. Louis Regional Internet Exchange Description

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The Saint Louis Regional Internet Exchange (STL-RIX)

1. Introduction to Internet Exchanges (IXs)

The Internet is not a single entity. It is a large group of independent networks that agree to share traffic with each other’s customers using a common Internet protocol (TCP/IP). Without this agreement, it would be impossible for users of two different networks to send each other email. The key task of an Internet provider is to ensure that its users are able to most cost-effectively connect to any point in the world that is connected to the Internet, be it a web site on the local network or a user connected to another network in the same city or in a distant part of the world.

Internet exchanges (IXs) are a vital part of this system. Without them, the Internet could not function because the different networks that make up the Internet would not be able to exchange traffic with each other. The simplest form of an exchange point is a direct connection between two Internet Service Providers (ISPs). When more than two providers operate in the same area, an independent switch operates more efficiently as a common interconnection point at which to exchange traffic between the local networks. This is similar to the development of regional airport hubs where many different airlines are served. At these locations, airlines exchange passengers between their flights in much the same way that networks exchange traffic across the IX.

For Internet providers and users, there are many advantages to local routing of traffic via a common IX:

• Substantial cost-savings are made by eliminating the need to put all traffic through the more expensive long-distance links to the rest of the world
• More bandwidth becomes available for local users because of the lower costs of local capacity
• Local links are often up to 10 times faster because of the reduced latency in traffic, which makes fewer hops to get to its destination
• New local content providers and services,  further benefit from the broader user-base available via the IX
• More choices for Internet providers become available on which to send upstream traffic to the rest of the Internet—contributing to a smoother and more competitive wholesale transit market

2. The Saint Louis Regional Internet Exchange (STL-RIX) and how we are unique

The STL-RIX will provide traditional IX services for business customers in the St. Louis region. Business customers will be able to connect to the STL-RIX and exchange local traffic with other businesses thereby increasing the speed and lowering the cost of collaboration within the region. Traffic leaving the St. Louis region will exit the STL-RIX and travel over the Internet backbone connections of the business’ ISP.

Content providers will also place equipment in St Louis directly connected to STL-RIX, providing Internet users in St Louis with faster, lower-latency access to many types of content. For example, Google has completed construction of a “data island” that will be connected to STL-RIX and will cache content served to Google users in St Louis, reducing load times for the next local user who accesses the same information.

In addition, the STL-RIX will have a unique configuration which will allow innovation districts, innovation neighborhoods, universities, startups, etc. to build, test and provision Internet-based services such as Internet of Things (IoT) healthcare, education, media, public safety and Smart City community solutions, without interrupting the services being provided to the business customers connected to STL-RIX’ traditional IX services.

This capability will provide an unprecedented opportunity for collaborative innovation and Smart City economic development in the St. Louis region.

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