The first Internet Exchange Point in Lebanon (IXP) was officially launched on April 1st, 2008 during an official ceremony held at the InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut with the presence of all parties from the private sector who contributed in the accomplishment of this important step. Those represented included: Cyberia, IDM, Moscanet/WISE, New-Com Sodetel, Solidere BBM, and Terranet, Cisco on behalf of the Partnership for Lebanon, the PCA and Berytech.
Mr. Bassam Jaber, Beirut IX spokesperson, began by elaborating on the technical aspects of the project while Mr. Gabriel Deek, PCA President, continued by elaborating on the benefits of this project for the community. Mr. George Akiki, Partnership for Lebanon (PFL) Cisco Program Director, concluded the launch by positioning the IXP project as part of PFL’s wider vision; the National Broadband Strategy.
Internet Exchange Points have been burgeoning around the world as part of the natural expansion of the Internet. So far more than three hundred IXPs exist in eighty countries around the world, while ninety countries that are predominantly developing economies, do not yet have IXPs of their own and depend on imported Internet bandwidth. Of all the Arabs countries that have an IXP only Egypt has one.
Typically, when an end-user connects to the internet, the local Internet Service Provider (ISP) carries the traffic to the nearest internet access point. Prior to having an IXP in Lebanon, an end-user in Jounieh accessing a web page located on a web-server in Beirut must have the request sent all the way to Europe or the United States and then back to Beirut. The presence of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) redirects the traffic into Lebanon instead of sending it on expensive international leased lines. By having traffic move through local bandwidth, end users will connect faster to the local web-server, while lowering the costs for ISPs.
Berytech Mar Roukoz was unanimously chosen as the location of the Beirut-IX since it is not only a neutral facility, it is also a technology pole host to 40+ companies in IT. It enjoys as well a state-of-the-art infrastructure, with continuous power, backup generators, IT support. Membership in the Beirut-IX is based on voluntary peering between members. In December 2007, the Beirut-IX was declared open when two ISPs started to exchange traffic between each others. Already Cyberia, IDM, Moscanet/WISE, New-Com Sodetel, Solidere BBM, and Terranet have all begun exchange local traffic at the Beirut-IX. A website containing all relevant information has been developed (www.beirut-ix.net).
As part of its commitment to improve Lebanon’s ICT infrastructure, Cisco has helped establish the country’s first Internet Exchange Point (IXP). On behalf of the Partnership for Lebanon, Cisco donated all of the necessary equipment for IXP making it possible for Packet Clearing House, an International NGO dedicated to the stability and accessibility of the Internet, to work with Lebanon’s ISPs to form the necessary technical, policy, and necessary governance structures.
The establishment of Beirut IX has been achieved through great collaborative effort between different entities that have a strong commitment to strengthen the Internet infrastructure in Lebanon. This establishment will, in return, provide true Broadband applications to the Lebanese people allowing Lebanon to re-claim its role as an Internet leader in the Middle East.