The Internet Exchange Point (IXP) made available by the National Scientific Computing Unit (FCCN) has a direct impact on Internet use in Portugal, reveals the manager of the networks area of the Unit's communications service FCCN, Pedro Lorga: "The more developed GigaPix is, the more the Internet user in Portugal will benefit".

What is GigaPix?

This is an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) - a physical structure in which several ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and CDNs (content servers) exchange Internet traffic between each other. Without such structures, traffic would have to cross many more domains, which would mean more delays, i.e. it would have an impact on users. It would also imply the need to guarantee very expensive connections outside Portugal. On the other hand, in this way there is also greater redundancy, as there is a new traffic exchange point. These structures allow for greater control over the network infrastructure. The more exchange points, the more nodes there are, the easier it is to optimise, i.e. to find the most profitable path.

What is the relevance of this service for the user?

Of the total traffic of the Science, Technology and Society Network (RCTS), more than 30% is through GigaPix. And this number has increased over the last years, taking into account the growth in the number of adherent members. At this moment, there are 36 entities that are members of GigaPix, both ISP's and CDN's. This allows for a very significant cost reduction. It is beneficial for users, for content providers and for Internet service providers, being a neutral point, since it is not owned by any commercial entity and is not for profit.

How do you measure that impact, in terms of numbers? 

Right now, GigaPix switches 100Gb of traffic. Without it, everything would have to go through Tier 1 [first order servers], which would imply increased costs, both for providers and users. On the other hand, without GigaPix, Internet users in Portugal would have a round trip time of 35 milliseconds or more [total time a signal takes to travel between the point of origin and destination]. With GigaPix, this total is less than 10 milliseconds. This greatly improves the user experience, both when browsing the Internet, streaming or playing online video games.

What next steps to take?

The main goal is to increase the number of members and the volume of traffic exchanged, as well as maintain service availability levels and make the platform increasingly stable. Currently, GigaPix is present in four technical rooms (three in Lisbon and one in Porto) and another goal is to increase the number of members in Porto. During the next year, new services will also be made available that will allow members to have more control over their traffic. The more GigaPix is developed, the more the Internet user will benefit: GigaPix improves the quality of the Internet in Portugal, as a whole.

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