IPX – Savior Or Old Tech

The looming battle over IP peering has caused some organizations to review their use of IPX, internetwork packet exchange. This old packet exchange technology is being touted as a possible option to defer the large costs associated with the defeat of net neutrality and the increasing preponderance of large Tier 1 networks to charge hefty fees for data transit. Will IPX alleviate this very real problem or is it an old technology that does not work today.


IPX is an original internetwork protocol in use during the 1980-90s before the consumerism of the internet, then ARPANET. IPX is itself at the time was good for small and medium sized networks and data exchange but did not scale well for applications such as the internet. It saw decreasing use as the IP protocol of the internet superseded it.

What has changed?

The massive explosion of the use of the internet for everything from voice conversations, cloud computing, gaming, streaming television or music and everything in-between have been putting a squeeze on the actual infrastructure that handles network traffic. In the current system, Tier 1 providers generally provide the infrastructure or the backbone of the internet at their own cost and only recoup that cost by charging transit fees to other tiers or direct selling to the consumer, more often the case. However, in this scenario, description developers and providers are seen as getting a free ride to the consumer. Although this is somewhat untrue, as the consumer has demanded receiving their service, think about not having Google search available on your mobile device because your carrier does not want to deliver it. Eventually you would probably switch carriers.

IPX the Solution?

The centrality of the argument to change the way information is transferred centers around the argument of net neutrality. Large corporations that provide the infrastructure, usually Tier 1’s, want the ability to charge description providers for delivering their service the ‘last mile’ to the consumer. There are many issues at play, including censorship, equal description provisions and a ‘free’ internet. An IPX network is a private network, providing services or data transfer privately between devices, which does not travel on the World Wide Web. The idea is that specialty, high bandwidth consuming technology like streaming music or video could inhabit this space more readily. Other private uses of this network idea like Blackberry’s messaging system as well could do well on a private network as such. The major difference of course is that this is a ‘paid’ network, where as currently the internet is ‘free’, besides connection charges.

IPX networks on top of, under or beside the free internet could provide another way for top tier providers to recoup infrastructure costs while at the same time providing quality access and service to their own subscribers to services that they demand.

Imagine Verizon with an IPX network that provides connectivity, roaming connection ability with quality high speed connections to a persons favorite TV or radio stations, or other favored applications through a private network that would not be subject to traffic shaping or bandwidth overuse. Savior or two tier service depends on your point of view.

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