Making the Case for an IX Liverpool

Why Liverpool Needs it's own Internet Exchange

An Internet exchange point (IX or IXP) is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks.

The majority of the Internet Exchange Points in the UK are located within London.  There are a small number outside, but none in Merseyside with Manchester being the closest. If someone in Liverpool is using the Internet to communicate with someone else in Liverpool, it is the norm for the data to go Liverpool-London-Liverpool due to the lack of local internet exchanges. Most communication outside the UK follows a similar route, leading to delay and resilience issues (latency).  Importantly, this also increases costs for local communications businesses and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

IX Liverpool is an effort to decentralise UK internet traffic for the Greater Merseyside Region.  For example it will:

  • Make the internet faster and more affordable
  • Reduce single points of failure
  • Cut out middle men and mean ISPs who govern internet connections and slow users down.
  • Make the service more open and available; if you have only one internet connection you are entirely dependent on that provider, but if you have multiple connections to the internet (via an exchange) then you are still available to regional and local ISPs and other networks.
  • Make Liverpool more independent and more in control of our own destiny

If you are an eCommerce provider with content, you can plug into an ISP and exchange traffic directly, creating a quicker (low latency path) for your business.

Economic Benefits

There are many individual benefits for users connected to the exchange, from better, faster internet connections to organisations being able to save money by reducing their costs, but there are also macro economic level benefits to having our own Internet Exchange here in Liverpool.

In the early internet years, London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt became some of the biggest exchanges in the world; it is no coincidence that these cities for example enjoy some of the cheapest and most reliable internet connectivity available. Many of the most interesting services on the internet are “glued” to those cities.

In the years that followed, cites like Prague, Dublin and Warsaw built successful internet exchanges that helped to help as a catalyst for the development of the internet community’s in those regions.  This resulted in greater local job creation as internet dependant businesses moved to be close to an internet exchange, bringing many different types of jobs with them, many of which are high grade, high skill and highly paid positions.

So why not Liverpool? We think that the presence of an internet exchange within the region will:

  • Bring carriers to the region,
  • Make the choice of internet companies they can buy from more interesting
  • Drive prices down and service levels up
  • Indirectly create/bring high grade jobs to the Merseyside Region
  • Help to up-skill our local workforce
  • Contribute to the growth and huge potential of the local digital economy

How many internet exchanges are there?

We found 220 different internet exchange points worldwide, based in 420 different data centres around 140 cities, 6,500 connection points via service providers and connectivity providers around the world, 6TB/s at internet exchange points, showing this is a very substantial and important way of exchanging traffic and is here to stay. It’s our choice if we want the Merseyside region to be part of this growth.

What happens if we don’t have one?

Right now there is little interest as our digital economy here in Merseyside is growing but relatively small. If we don’t provide the infrastructure for these organisations to thrive, they will either hit a “glass ceiling” and move out of the area (taking jobs with them) or many may not get off the ground in the first place.

We’ve already seen how the likes of Amazon have pioneered online shopping and how many local retailers have folded as they have failed to keep up.  We are seeing the impact of the likes of Uber on Merseyside taxi companies and how media companies now choose Manchester over Liverpool as their home (these are facts of life as progress takes hold), of course there are many reasons, but good connectivity is one of them.

We either want to be part of the digital revolution or we resist it.  We are campaigning to be part of it.  Liverpool is a great city, and just like the founding fathers of the dock system and creation of the ports and the resulting roaring trade it did in the 19th Century, the forward vision to make Liverpool a successful port for international trade, a place to exchange goods and prosper from the opportunities resonates with us.

IX Liverpool is part of Liverpool’s 21st Century vision as a port once again, but instead of shipping and moving physical goods, we are selling our skills, experience, services and goods over the Internet – that’s why we want to make Liverpool the UK’s best connected city outside London.