LUMS Research Team’s Project to Optimise Internet Exchange Point Performance in the Country
Consumers around the globe get internet connectivity via their local service providers whose networks are then connected to others in a hierarchy. Sometimes, and quite often in Pakistan, one has to go through many different networks in this hierarchy to connect to their destination thereby reducing efficiency and increasing communication delays. However, a research team at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering has found a way to improve this.
Faculty member, Dr. Zartash Afzal Uzmi, who is teaching at both the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments has completed a project titled ‘Establishment of a Carrier Neutral Software-Defined Internet Exchange Point and Training Programs for Capacity Building in Managing IXPs’ that aims to connect all local service providers directly with each other with optimised performance and flexibility. “This project was about improving the performance of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) where all the service providers of Pakistan directly connect with each other; by using relatively recent innovations in the networking technology, namely software defined networking (SDN),” he said.
SDN offers unprecedented services at an IXP and can also reduce the cost of running an IXP. In collaboration with the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan, the team had previously set up an IXP in Islamabad where all the local service providers connected their optical fibers with each other through the IXP. The team worked to enable SDN at the Internet Exchange Points in a lab setting for further deployment at the IXP in Islamabad.
A USD 30,000 grant was awarded by the Information Society Innovation Fund (ISIF) Asia which is a grants and awards programme that empowers communities in the Asia Pacific region and places particular emphasis on the positive role the internet has in social and economic development in the region.
Apart from the IXP present in Islamabad, one in Karachi is in progress and the next will be established in Lahore. “Internet exchange points exist all over the world; in Pakistan there were none, so we established one 3 years ago before this project started,” added Dr. Uzmi.
The LUMS team working on the project includes Dr. Uzmi, Dr. Ihsan Ayyub Qazi, chair of the Computer Science department, one research assistant, and two undergraduate students.