What is peering?

Peering is a relationship between networks allowing them to connect and exchange traffic. Using an Internet Exchange enables networks to peer in a cost-effective, scalable way that cuts transit costs and improves network performance.

What is peering? 

Peering refers to the relationship between two networks that enables them to connect and exchange traffic. It can use a physical connection between the two networks – known as a Private Network Interconnect (PNI) – or a connection between networks present at an Internet Exchange where many different networks and content providers exchange traffic with each other. 

Private Network Interconnect (PNI)

If you are present at a data centre, you can arrange a Private Network Interconnect (PNI). This is a dedicated connection between two networks established by paying the data centre a monthly fee for a cross-connect. This ensures direct connection between your networks. On the downside, this adds to your OPEX and might not scale effectively. Every PNI involves a negotiation and, usually, some form of contract between the networks. This can take time. Each PNI also needs its own cross connect and these costs stack up fast.

Peer at an Internet Exchange

A more scalable option is to join an interconnection platform such as an Internet Exchange (IX). You will still need a cross connect to link your network to the IX. But with an IX, one cross connect enables you to interconnect with hundreds of different networks including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). You will also be able to access a range of interconnection services.

Peer over an IX route server

IXes provide route servers. These are extremely useful and enable you to easily peer with many networks without needing to make any special arrangements or agreements. For smaller networks, or enterprise customers who are looking to include peering in their connection strategy, IX route servers are an excellent tool. 

Why peer?

Networks that peer have more control over their traffic. If a network sends or receives traffic over a transit connection, it goes across the Internet via whatever path the transit provider decides to use. If there’s a problem – slow connections or packet loss, for instance – the network is at the mercy of its transit provider. A network that peers has more control over external paths, and can easily adjust routing to avoid problem network segments. Peering helps keep traffic local, improve network performance and cut transit costs.  


How do you start peering?

To get started with peering you need:

  • an Autonomous System Number (ASN) and a block of public IP addresses
  • a network edge router running Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
  • a connection to an IX (either physical or remote)
  • someone to manage your peering for you (to oversee your peering policy, which networks to peer with, and how to make the relevant arrangements)

If you want to discuss how to start peering in the Nordics, you can book a meeting with one of our interconnection experts here.

More resources

Check out our 2 minute peering for beginners video here.

If you are ready to start peering and want some quick tips and tricks, you can watch our 6 minute peering webinar here.