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[connect-wg] IXP neutrality discussion

Michalis Oikonomakos

2021-09-21 17:02:48 CET

Dear connect WG fellows,

I hope you all are well!

I notice that most IXPs use the term "neutral" to describe themselves. This
“neutrality” is usually loosely associated to “fairness” and
“non-discrimination” among the members, however the term is generic and
ambiguous and leaves a lot of room for different interpretations by IXPs
and IXP customers.

I was wondering whether there is some consensus on this term – and even if
not, what are the different points of view? Some points (which do not
necessarily express my own opinion) to start the discussion:

- Is uniform pricing among its members a significant part of IXP
neutrality? Do promos and offers affect this neutrality and under what
terms can they be offered without a problem? Are welcome packs (e.g. free
ports) allowed in order to attract significant members? Under what
conditions is it possible that an IXP offers discounted or free ports,
without this affecting its neutrality (e.g. for root NS or similar
- Do you consider it significant that all members of a neutral IXP have
access to the same service portfolio and options? To what extent and for
what reasons can a member be treated exceptionally? Are small exceptions
allowed (e.g. allowing a second IP in the peering LAN when forbidden by
policy), in order to attract a new, important customer?  How does this
conflict with the IXP’s need to adapt to new technologies or test new
services (e.g. running a pilot with selected members)?
- How important is the uniformity of all contractual terms to an IXP
neutrality? E.g. billing and payment terms, SLAs, penalties etc? How
flexible can an IXP be, e.g. for a significant customer? Should a contract
template be used to ensure such uniformity? If yes, does this preclude a
neutral IXP from signing customized contracts or customers’ contracts and
if not, under what conditions?
- Should the price list be public? Should the contract template be public?
- Is openness part of neutrality? Should the members list be public? Should
the number of ports and port speeds be public? Should a neutral IXP adopt
certain APIs, e.g. the Euro-IX API?
- Is it acceptable for a neutral IXP to have other activities (e.g.
sell/resell Internet or other IXPs, colocation, integration & consulting,
etc.)? To what extent?
- Does connectivity between IXP POPs within metro/country/global affect
neutrality? Under what circumstances is this acceptable?
- Does the nature of an IXP entity affect neutrality? E.g. member-based vs
state owned vs commercial vs non-profit vs academic?
- Should financial data be published (especially for IXPs that are not
standalone entities)? To which detail?
- How are the above affected by IXP resellers? (e.g. should there be
"fairness" between resellers and how is this achieved? What about
"fairness" for resold members?)
- How are the above affected by cloud exchange services (where members are
by definition distinguished between providers and consumers)?

Feel free to comment on as many topics as you like or add your own. Answers
from IXPs and IXP customers are both welcome.

Once again, I understand that there are different and conflicting views on
this, but I believe it would be interesting to see if there is a baseline
consensus and what the different points of view are. I expect that some
interesting results will come up and, if they do, I promise to try to
gather them and present them in a future meeting.

Thank you in advance for your input.

Best regards,
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Randy Bush

2021-09-21 17:50:34 CET

no carrier bias in locating my router near and connecting to the