Internet exchange points (IXes or IXPs) are common grounds of IP networking, allowing participant Internet service providers (ISPs) to exchange data destined for their respective networks. IXPs are generally located at places with preexisting connections to multiple distinct networks, i.e., datacenters, and operate physical infrastructure (switches) to connect their participants. Organizationally, most IXPs are each independent not-for-profit associations of their constituent participating networks (that is, the set of ISPs which participate at that IXP). The primary alternative to IXPs is private peering, where ISPs directly connect their networks to each other.
IXPs reduce the portion of an ISP's traffic that must be delivered via their upstream transit providers, thereby reducing the average per-bit delivery cost of their service. Furthermore, the increased number of paths available through the IXP improves routing efficiency (by allowing routers to select shorter paths) and fault-tolerance. IXPs exhibit the characteristics of the network effect.