The history of The London Internet
Exchange (LINX) parallels the development of the Internet in the UK.
Back in 1994 the World Wide Web was in its infancy and Internet
exchange points were a novelty with only a handful in the entire
Even the idea that Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) should co-operate and share infrastructure to their
mutual benefit was novel. In this environment, representatives from
the UK’s five domestic ISPs agreed to co-operate in the creation of
The London Internet Exchange based on two guiding principles:
Less than two months after the concept
was agreed - and with a total absence of contracts, lawyers and
paperwork - LINX became operative when the first Internet traffic was
transmitted through its routers on 8 November 1994.
LINX has subsequently been a barometer
reflecting the phenomenal growth in volume of Internet traffic in the
UK as more people have gained access to more data from more sources
than could have been imagined at the dawn of the Internet Age.
By the end of 1999 nearly one person in
five in the UK had access to the Internet and the volume of traffic
passing through LINX was peaking at 2.5 gigabits per second - more
than 250 times its original total capacity. Growth has continued
unabated and new peaks are being surpassed with increasing rapidity -
rising from three Gbit/second in June 2000 to 10 Gbit/second at the
end of September 2001.
In order to keep pace with such
phenomenal growth LINX has pioneered the introduction of new
technologies and new techniques.
LINX adopted one-gigabit Ethernet
standards for the rapid transmission of Internet traffic ahead of even
the large US exchanges and it is now at the forefront of preparations
for the introduction of 10-gigabit Ethernet standards. The new
Ethernet standards offer the potential to expand the carrying capacity
of existing networks ten-fold with only minor modifications to the
As a result of its founding principle to
be independent of any one co-location provider, LINX was also an
industry leader when it diversified its operations around several
sites and linked them with dedicated optical fibre cables. This is an
essential element in a strategy to build a high level of resilience
and redundancy into the LINX network - if one part of the network
suffers a failure of any kind some traffic can be re-routed through
other parts of the network.
Today the LINX membership numbers more
than 120 leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content
Delivery Service Providers from the UK, Ireland, USA, continental
Europe and the Far East. Its facilities at eight London-based
co-location ‘tele-hotels’ provide peering inter-connections
between its members’ networks and carry up to 96 per cent of the UK’s
As to the future, it is not difficult to
predict that Internet traffic volumes will continue their rapid growth
as more people surf the web and the Internet is utilised for an
ever-increasing variety of services.
It is estimated that new third generation
(3G) mobile telephones and the growing availability of broadband
connectivity - offering new services such as video on demand - could
lead to a ten-fold increase in LINX traffic within two years. Clearly,
LINX will play an equally vital role in the future of the UK Internet
as it has done in its history.