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AMS-IX Goes China: will there be full Internet freedom?

ChinaCache has signed a strategic agreement with AMS-IX (Amsterdam Internet Exchange) to develop an internet exchange for China. ChinaCache is a total solutions provider of internet content and application delivery services in China. The company is listed on the Nasdaq exchange. Netherlands-based AMS-IX is the world’s largest independent Internet exchange. Both parties are planning to develop the first Internet exchange in mainland China.

The Internet exchange branded CHN-IX is expected to be built, owned and managed by ChinaCache to serve internet content providers (ICPs) and internet service providers (ISPs) in China with interconnect and peering services. AMS-IX will consult on platform design and provide a proven infrastructure management and customer portal software. The partnership is exclusive and aimed at ensuring a world-class service to CHN-IX’s customers. CHN-IX is expected to start serving customers in the fourth quarter of 2015.

A Chinese proverb says: “Surprised to be in the same boat”. This partnership is quite noteworthy as two completely different internet cultures come together.

AMS-IX has grown due to its unique business model; it is not a commercial company but an association of members that open up their AS-networks and peer their data volumes. Those members are internet parties, that, big or small, pay the same membership fee and have equal voting rights. Internet Giants such as Google have the same say in the Amsterdam policies and affairs as a small local content provider. They all share a common network neutrality strategy. AMS-IX is the poster kid for free and unregulated internet.

China on the other hand is known for its strict government control of the Internet. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have experienced the power and censorship that the Chinese authorities exercise at times. Open Internet and Net Neutrality do not appear in the Chinese government’s dictionary. The deal raises some serious questions regarding AMS-IX’s motives and role: why did they not start a Chinese Internet exchange themselves? What do AMS-IX members think of all this? Isn’t AMS-IX compromising itself by collaborating with a regime that has a track record of censorship and suppression?

The press release says the cooperation is limited to technicalities, like infrastructure and network management. Perhaps the CHN-IX will undergo democratization and help open up the Internet? “Let a thousand flowers bloom”, said Chairman Mao.

Read here our blog regarding net neutrality.

Would you like to know how you can best get connected within China? Please, contact us!

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