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First Internet exchange point established in Thimphu

Internet experience in the country is expected to be faster and cost saving with the launch of the first Internet exchange point in the country called Bhutan Internet exchange (BtIX) in Thimphu.

BtIX is a physical Internet infrastructure through which Internet service provider and content delivery networks exchange local traffic locally through the point.

Considered as an integral part of the Internet ecosystem, the introduction of the Internet exchange point is expected to reduce the average public delivery cost of their service and allow networks to interconnect directly through exchange rather than through one or more third-party networks.

Official from BtIX said the exchange point would keep local Internet traffic within the local infrastructure and reduce the costs associated with traffic exchange between networks by eliminating the need to pull all traffic through more expensive long-distance links to the rest of the world.

The initiative is expected to improve the quality of Internet services and drive demand by reducing delay, improve end-user experience, create a favourable environment for local infrastructure and service development according to BtIX.

The minister of Information and Communication Karma Donnen Wangdi, at the launch last Tuesday, said that the exchange would allow local operators and users to acquire substantial cost savings, provide substantial bandwidth, and significantly improve local Internet performance.

“BtIX would enhance knowledge sharing and research within the Internet community, create and encourage lager service provider to install the content cache within Bhutan for better user experience,” said the minister.

He added that the formation of BtIX was also aligned with the government ready to encourage local content development. “This will also help the government in fulfilling the vision of providing free Wi-Fi hotspots, development of Sungjoen App, free access to G2C services.”

With the government focusing on e-governance, International networking coordinator from the United State of America, Dale Smith said that having built exchange point in the country would help those services work better.

He said that the establishment of exchange point in the country would enable control over local traffic and data.

Traffic is exchanged here, which is cost-free. Reduce air cost and reduce prices. Internet would load quicker, work better on everyone’s phone and reduce everyone’s cost, improving users experience according to the official.

Chairperson with BtIX, Jichen Thinley said that most of the Internet traffic generated by users in developing countries was international because of a limited amount of local online content and services. This results to large capital outflow paid to foreign Internet providers,” he said. “We may be one of the few last countries to introduce the Internet exchange.”

He said that by keeping local traffic local and avoiding international links, local operators and users could acquire substantial cost savings, provide substantial local bandwidth, and significantly improve local Internet performance.

He added that ensuring the presence of local Internet exchange points was becoming increasingly important. As it ensures online services to be equally accessible to all local users, enhance competitive opportunities, and improve the quality and affordability of Internet services.

While the Internet exchange point functions as non-profit organisations, the association of Internet services providers, and operator-neutral for Profit Company among others, BtIX is challenged to gain recognition as an entity with no regulation in place yet.

Nima and Sonam Choden

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