Peering and Network Cost

Jason Lixfeld jason at
Mon Apr 20 03:33:30 UTC 2015

> On Apr 19, 2015, at 6:09 AM, William Waites <wwaites at> wrote:
> On Sun, 19 Apr 2015 11:23:53 +0200, Baldur Norddahl <baldur.norddahl at> said:
>> So why is IX peering so expensive?
>> But the only service is running an old layer 2 switch.
>> The 40 dix particants should donate 1000 USD once and get a new
>> layer 2 switch. Why does that not happen?
> This is something like how TORIX was operated at the beginning. The
> switch was donated by Cisco and rack space by a member with a cage at
> a convenient spot at 151 Front -- I think this was jlixfeld at
> Fees were a $1/port/year peppercorn.
> It has been a long time since I was in any way involved in that, but
> today for a 1Gbps port TORIX charges $1200/year which is more but still
> not as much as you say for other IXPs. It would be interesting to hear
> from someone who was involved in TORIX at the time how this transition
> from $1 to $1200 went and the reasoning behind it. My guess would be
> moving to its own space and having to pay rent was a major part of it,
> and possibly acquiring staff?

To be clear, we asked for $1/port/year, but we never really bothered to pay attention to who actually paid :)

Instead of addressing your questions directly, how about a brief and much abridged history of TorIX? ;)

The recollection of Mr. Waites on our humble beginnings is pretty much bang-on.  For the first 7 or so years, we were really ad-hoc, but we eventually decided that we needed to incorporate.  That decision was simply due to the fact that we didn’t think we’d be taken very seriously by larger players (larger eyeball networks or large content networks (either nationally or internationally)) unless we moved away from an ad-hoc collection of nothing and no-one, and into an actual legal entity.  Along with feedback from the participates of our little IX, those of us who made up the organizing body of this ad-hoc TorIX decided that while a legal organization was an important next step in our evolution, incorporating with non-profit status (as opposed to a full-blown commercial IX) was the most appropriate method of becoming legit.  Bill Campbell (former owner Hostopia, former owner Internet Direct (later became Look)) put up 100% of the money to incorporate TorIX in early 2004.

Second, up until about 2008’ish, whenever we needed gear, we’d usually have to pass the hat when we needed a GigE switch or something a little more high test than someone’s decommissioned FastE kit.  The problem with passing the hat is that it rarely makes everyone happy because there’s always someone who gets left out.  The cash in the hat would only give us enough to buy a 12 port switch, but inevitably, a few more than 12 participants all donated towards buying the switch.  The last ones to offer up the cash had to be dropped until the next time the hat got passed around.  We didn’t think asking all our participants to drop money into the hat was an appropriate course of action.  Not everyone would contribute, for a multitude of reasons, but everyone would still expect the same level of service.  Needless to say, it got messy.  It was an inevitable part of our growth, sure.  It might still be inevitable for any budding IX.

After our incorporation, there were many offers from folks with skids of decommissioned 6500s, 6704s and SUP720s.  These extremely generous donations made it possible for us to turn up our first 10G port, but it resulted in other challenges: who would be allowed to occupy the other three ports?  Do we charge for them?  We got the ports for free so HTF do we figure this one out, guys?  These sorts of dilemmas would cause strife, so around 2008, the serving Board at the time decided that the next step in our evolution was to make the organization completely self-sufficient by introducing a reasonable port fee structure.  Port fees could let us get space where we felt we needed it.  We could buy our own gear so anyone would always be able to have any speed port they wanted.  We could pay for the support contracts, hire lawyers and accountants, and also contribute to community initiatives like sponsoring the Canadian ISP Summit, NANOG and ARIN.  We strive to keep our port fees low.  99% of folks never thought our port fees were too high.  In fact, I can remember a few folks who laughed when we introduced port fees asking if they could pay for 5 years up front because the port fees were so cheap they were a joke.

The Board introduced a reduced port fee structure across the board for 2015.

Everyone[1] who contributes to TorIX still does so in a volunteer capacity; Board members, the operations group, even our book keeper :)

[1]In 2014, the Board voted in favour of a motion to hire an Executive Director to further drive the growth of TorIX.  In March, the Board announced that Bill Sandiford had accepted the role.  In the 18 year history of TorIX, the Executive Director role is the first ever paid position at TorIX.

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