Internet Exchange Point (IXP)& Peering
Peering is the word used to describe the exchange of Internet traffic between two entities such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Often conducted through an Internet Exchange Point (IXP, or sometimes just IX) the idea behind peering is to allow two distinct networks (or Autonmous Systems) to route local traffic between them. This often avoids the latency and cost associated with using a third party network, which in many smaller developing economies could even lead to the use of expensive international connections to route to destinations which are effectively 'next door'.
Often done on a cost-free basis for mutual benefit, two or more network operators might agree form or use an IXP as it reduces their traffic delivered via upstream providers. This is often faster, more efficient, can be more fault tolerant but most imporatnly, it can be far cheaper.
Sometimes called voluntary peering the Asia Pacific has been slower than some other regions in establishing peering agreements and exchanges. To catch up, the first step is most commonly to establish a national exchange point to keep local traffic within the country of origin.
Often Exchange Points are used as a hosting hub and are therefor sometimes set up by commercial hosting providers which provide value-added facilities and data-centre operations where critical or high-traffic operations are easily accessed.
According to the Mike Jensen article (linked above), peering in the Asia-Pacific region grew the slowest world wide with only a 15 percent increase in 2007. Jensen says the region currently has only 67 peering points. Africa still lags behind the Asia Pacific with only 17 of the 53 African nations having an IXP (2007), although this represents a growth of 21 percent over the previous year.
To find out if there is an established Exchange Point near you try these two links.
Packet Clearing House IXP Directory