APNIC GUEST POST: Insights from operating an IP Exchange Provider

International mobile roaming is a key feature of cellular networks, enabling mobile subscribers to seamlessly use cellular services worldwide. It supports international travellers, who can access data roaming at a limited cost (or no cost), often using applications with stringent Quality of Experience (QoE) requirements (for example, VoLTE, video streaming).

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) infrastructure now offers the basic technological support for cellular Internet of Things (IoT) and boosts Machine-to-Machine (M2M) platforms as global connectivity providers. Major MNOs exploit international roaming to ensure worldwide connectivity to IoT providers, which ship their devices internationally (from wearables to cars and shipping containers) with prearranged cellular service (that is, a provisioned SIM card for the IoT device). Given the pervasiveness of these critical services, very little is known about the underlying roaming infrastructure.

Under the IP Packet Exchange (IPX) model, MNOs leverage IPX Providers (IPX-Ps) for interconnecting with all other MNOs for roaming. Specifically, with only one connection and one agreement, IPX-Ps offer their customers (e.g., MNO) interconnection for worldwide data roaming, and support for a variety of emerging applications. No IPX-P on its own is able to provide connections on a global basis (e.g., single-handily interworking with all MNOs). IPX-Ps peer to each-other to form the IPX Network, today composed of 29 active IPX-Ps peering using three major peering exchange points, and interconnecting about 800 MNOs worldwide.

We present the first detailed analysis of operations in a real-world large IPX-P, with more than 100 PoPs in 40+ countries, and discuss performance implications … continue reading the blog post …

Another invited post for the APNIC blog.

Read full paper here

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