The free network connector, Ohio-IX, appeals to content providers and networks.

Fiber connections at Cologix, which will house Ohio-IX by the end of the year.

The local movement is good when it comes to food, but what about for Internet connections? Apparently, local is good for that too, leading Cologix data center, OARnet technology initiative and Columbus content providers and networks to team up to start Ohio-IX, a nonprofit model Internet exchange at Cologix.

So what's the benefit of a local Internet exchange? Zero cost to Internet content providers and networks when relaying a portion of their traffic through the exchange.

The exchange is slated to go live by the end of the year and has yet to be built, but for many, an Internet exchange holds no meaning, as Graham William, COO of Cologix, notes that to understand what an Internet exchange is, you must know how the Internet works.

"The Internet is essentially the connection between somebody looking for information and somebody that has it. The side that's looking for the information is called the eyeball, meaning you're at home, on your computer, you're interested in watching a movie on Netflix, and in this scenario-as the eyeball-you'd make a request to go over a series of networks to Netflix's servers and then Netflix sends that movie back to you," says Williams.

But the transaction between the eyeball and desired content doesn't necessarily go through the same network each time an eyeball searches.

"There's no network that has all of the eyeballs and all of the content on it together," says Williams. "So, the Internet is a series of different networks that are connected to each other to allow that request and that delivery of content to happen seamlessly."

The role of an Internet exchange is to facilitate connections between networks so that the eyeball's computer can talk to the content provider's computer. Yet, like a final destination through which a passenger could get to though a number of airports, there are many Internet exchanges through which such connections can be made.

"Internet exchanges can be either owned by data center companies or they can be run by an organization of the members in a nonprofit way, like the exchange in Minneapolis, which is called the MICE-the Midwest Internet Cooperative Exchange-where that's really an organization of networks and content providers who have come together to operate the exchange on their own and the rules are developed by the membership," says Williams. "That is the model that Ohio-IX is following."

The current and prospective members of the exchange gathered in a town hall meeting in September. There, they formed a steering committee that is currently crafting the governance of the exchange to be ratified by the rest of the community who will use it.

Once ratified and Ohio-IX is up and running, Williams claims Columbus Internet users likely won't notice a difference in the speed of their Internet searches, but they could see a noticeable difference when they're the eyeball streaming movies online. Kind of like having a faster commute from connecting flights.

-Julie France