The idea of establishing an IXP was first discussed at a meeting of Internet Service Providers of Nigeria (ISPAN) in 2001, but the level of trust between ISPs was low. Consequently, the group attending the meeting decided that it would be imperative to hold a workshop aimed at raising awareness among the ISPs on issues of co-operation and specifically on the benefits of IXPs.
In March of that year, IXP activity first began outside the capital in the city of Ibadan when the first IXP (Ib-IX) in Nigeria went live with two members connected to a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet switch and a route server. The maximum-recorded traffic between the two ISPs was about 100Kbit/s. In June, Maxwell Kadiri spearheaded an IXP workshop with the support of ISPAN and the French embassy in Lagos. However, no further developments took place for two years.
In early 2005, the ISP Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) began discussions on setting up an exchange in Lagos that was to be managed by an independent entity to be set up by ISPAN. However, in November that year, the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, directed the national regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to ensure that a national IXP be established as soon as possible. With a budget of N35 million (about USD300, 000), the Interim Board of the Nigerian IXP (NIXP) was inaugurated in March 2007, but the IXP did not actually become operational until 2010 when it began providing services from Marina, Lagos, with 15 initial members.
Since start up, the membership has grown to 38 and the IXP has established two other operating sites in Lagos in partnership with two different co-location operators, connected by fibre switch fabric across the locations. Four of the biggest mobile operators – South Africa’s MTN, United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s Etisalat, India’s Airtel and the second national operator, Globacom, have all connected to the exchange along with other major fibre carriers such as MainOne, Phase3 and Layer 3.
At the time of inauguration, the IXP planned for eight future sub-locations - at Victoria Island, Ikeja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Enugu, Kano and Maiduguri. As indicated above, facilities in Lagos, Marina, Victoria Island and Ikeja were established initially, followed by Abuja in mid-2011 (with a grant from the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)) and Port Harcourt in mid-2012. The remaining three locations are still in the planning phase.
The exchange operates at layer 2 and each location has two Foundry switches connecting separate peering LANs to ensure reliability. The primary peering LAN is interconnected on a 1Gbps circuit (fibre) while the secondary peering LAN is interconnected on a 450 megabit wireless backhaul. Two of the three operating locations have route servers in place. All the NIX switches provide 10/100BaseTX switched Ethernet and 1000BaseSX Gigabit Ethernet over multi-mode fibre connections.
Shared services include a CommunityDNS server and an F-root name server.
A board composed of the CEO and six directors oversees NIXP. A technical committee assists the staff and advises the Board on technical matters relating to NIXP operations.
NIXP joined Euro-IX, the European Internet Exchange Association in December 2011.
Routing Policies and Traffic
NIXP operates a Mandatory MLPA (Multi-Lateral Peering Agreement) that requires every member to peer with the IXP’s route servers. IXPN also offers a separate, private interconnect service for members wishing to have bilateral connections.
Traffic has increased by about 4,000% since the IXP's inception and live traffic statistics are available on the NIXP website. The statistics indicate that members are exchanging traffic at about 2 Gigabits per second during peak times. NIXP also publishes the disaggregated live traffic statistics of each of its members.
Multiple Location Fee Structure
Considering that there are two peering LANs for IXPN in Lagos, each additional port is charged at the same rate as the first unless a member intends to take a second port on the second peering LAN or if they have a single port on the primary peering LAN. A member's second 100M is free of port charge, but a member's second 1G port has a 25% discount on port charge. These discounts are offered to encourage members to take ports on both the IXPN peering LANs. In common with many other IXPs, NIXP has a port congestion strategy where, if the average measured traffic on a member's port exceeds 80% of its capacity, a Congestion Charge equal to the Basic Port Charge for that type of port is payable in addition to the other port fees.
For additional information on NIXP, see the ISOC study: Assessment of the impact of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) – empirical study of Kenya and Nigeria.