ON Thursday afternoon, a coalition of community partners and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority fired up the country's fifth Internet exchange point in Winnipeg.
An Internet exchange point (IXP) is a switch within the Internet that allows multiple networks, such as three or more Internet service providers, to connect directly with each other.
'The Manitoba Internet Exchange will benefit Winnipeggers in a number of ways'
Shaw and MTS, the two largest Internet service providers in Manitoba, are not part of the Manitoba Internet Exchange (MBIX), so most Manitobans will not experience any difference in their Internet service.
But Bill Reid, president of MBIX, said some of the rural Internet service providers have joined and those users might experience some faster service. Reid said it takes some time for an IXP to attract users.
There are about 400 IXPs around the world. One started in Calgary last month and there are also ones in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) assisted in the creation of the MBIX. It is a non-profit organization that receives its mandate from Industry Canada and is the dot.ca registry and manages that domain name system.
The Internet has been built over the past 35 years by a network of independent networks that have agreed to transmit their customers' data between each other using standard communication protocols. That means an email sent from someone in Winnipeg to someone else in Winnipeg might be routed all over the world before it arrives at its destination.
It might get routed through the U.S. and perhaps even come under the scrutiny of the U.S. internal security apparatus that, it's recently come to light, monitors email traffic.
Reid said a Winnipeg IXP -- a box that's about half the size of a bar fridge and physically located at the Grain Exchange building -- can mean the opportunity for cheaper access to the Internet for those who join the network.
"The Manitoba Internet Exchange will benefit Winnipeggers in a number of ways," said Reid. "Not only will it improve local Internet performance, it will act as a magnet to attract organizations outside of Manitoba to establish a point presence in Winnipeg."
As an example, Hurricane Electric, a global Internet traffic transit provider that recently joined MBIX, will now be able to supply local organizations with access to Internet transit rates competitive with Toronto, Vancouver and the U.S.