Kanata facility teams with New Brunswick firm to host Ottawa’s Internet Exchange Point

IXP
Editor's Note

This article was updated with comments from Purecolo.

The quest to find a new home for the internet in Ottawa reached a satisfying conclusion this week as New Brunswick-based Fibre Centre and Kanata-based Purecolo announced plans to host the capital’s Internet Exchange Point.

Techopia dug into the importance of a having an IXP in the city earlier this year, but in short, the networking facilities allow content distributors, internet service providers and other large enterprises to plug directly into the internet – keeping the flow of data fast and local.

The Ottawa Gatineau Internet Exchange, an organization hoping to bring an IXP to the National Capital Region, formed earlier this year with representatives from Invest Ottawa, the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks, local ISPs and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority all on board.

OGIX director and chief technical officer at CIRA Jaques Latour says the group toured a variety of possible locations over the past few months, ranging from traditional data centres to private enterprises seeking to make their site the internet’s local home.

Kanata’s Purecolo met the IXP requirements as a carrier-neutral hotel facility, but Moncton-based Fibre Centre’s plans to set up a local outpost on Michael Street opened the doors for a two-pronged solution.

"We have spent over two years analyzing the market, exploring options and building consensus within the internet community in Ottawa and we are very pleased and excited to make this announcement today," said Fibre Centre founder Hunter Newby in a statement earlier this month.

Fibre Centre will connect to the primary internet infrastructure at its downtown Ottawa location, and Purecolo will connect its Kanata facilities from there. Downtown companies looking to connect to the new IXP will do so through the Fibre Centre, whereas a Kanata company would likely set up its connection through Purecolo.

Michael Lalonde, co-owner of Purecolo and a volunteer with the OGIX, says hosting the IXP with Fibre Centre – now a competitor for Ottawa hosting services – is about working together to create new opportunities in the city’s internet infrastructure.

“There's a really big value to both of us. So we are competitors, but I think in terms of this project, we see each other as an alliance,” Lalonde says. “Maybe an uneasy alliance, but an alliance nonetheless.”

Having multiple locations gives the IXP a built-in redundancy should an isolated disruption – like the tornadoes that ripped through the region a couple months ago – knock one of the facilities offline for a time. Latour says OGIX is also in discussions with a startup data centre in Gatineau to extend the internet across the Ottawa River.

“So it’s opening up avenues for innovation in Gatineau,” Latour says.

Bringing the core of the internet to the capital presents opportunities for local firms and city infrastructure. Latour says the IXP will enable smart-city applications such as autonomous vehicles, which rely on low-latency network connections.

While Latour says the process to find a suitable home for the IXP dragged on a little long – “Ottawa has its own speed when it comes to working with big telcos,” he says – getting it set up will mean faster connections for those organizations that choose to plug in.

“Things should be way faster now to get connected in Ottawa,” Latour says.

Since the IXP concept takes a bit of time to wrap one’s head around (this reporter would know), the next step is to inform the Ottawa-Gatineau business community about the possible benefits of connecting. Latour says the OGIX will likely host an information session in the coming months for anyone curious about what an IXP can do for them.