Federal Internet Exchange


The Federal Internet Exchange (FIX) refers to two locations in the United States (FIX East and FIX West) where government networks linked up to commercial ones. Established in the 1980s, these points facilitated the exchange of information between different internet service providers. Over time, these specifically named points have largely become obsolete due to internet connectivity points’ expansive growth and diversification.

Key Takeaways

  1. The federal Internet Exchange (FIX) was established to manage the growing need for improved network interconnectivity among United States federal agencies. It significantly contributed to the development and standardization of Internet protocols.
  2. FIX served as a model for subsequent Network Access Points (NAPs) and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), crucial components of the Internet’s infrastructure. They allow networks to interconnect directly via the exchange rather than through one or more third-party networks.
  3. Despite the dissolution of the FIX in 1995, its contribution remains relevant. It laid the groundwork for the existing decentralized structure of the Internet and played a major role in advancing the standards that serve as the backbone of today’s Internet.


The Federal Internet Exchange (FIX) is a fundamental term in technology due to its role in developing and expanding the Internet. Established in the late 1980s, the FIX was one of the first Internet exchange points that allowed networks to interconnect and transfer data, marking a significant leap in Internet connectivity.

Operating at both East and West (FIX East and FIX West) locations in the U.S, this structure allowed government networks to communicate with commercial ones, making the internet more accessible.

This historical technological advancement has largely paved the way for the current interconnected digital landscape, demonstrating the importance of the Federal Internet Exchange.

DevX’s Explanation

The Federal Internet Exchange (FIX) plays a significant role in promoting seamless connectivity among networks, particularly in terms of government operations. Primarily, FIX functions as a primary exchange point on the Internet where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) connect to share traffic between their networks.

This interface not only optimizes efficiency but also plays a significant role in reducing the costs associated with routing consumer data. Regarding applicability, FIX is primarily leveraged to facilitate government-related operations and services over the internet.

Its purpose stems from the need for efficient communication channels and data sharing between different government networks. Furthermore, by acting as a central hub of interconnectivity for separate ISPs, the Federal Internet Exchange aims to enhance connection speeds, reduce overall network congestion, and improve the quality of internet-based services provided by government agencies to the public.


Federal Internet Exchange (FIX) refers to any network infrastructure or point that enables the exchange of internet traffic between different networks. It usually facilitates data transfer between government agencies or departments.

While specific real-world examples can be harder to pinpoint due to security and confidentiality reasons, the following general examples can provide a sense of how Federal Internet Exchanges function:

1. Military Communication: Countries’ defense forces often use dedicated internet exchange points to share classified information across different branches. For instance, the U.S. Department of Defense could use a FIX to enable its branches, like the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to exchange critical data securely.

2. Interdepartmental Data Sharing: Government departments can use their dedicated FIX to share data and information. For example, departments like the FBI, CIA, and Department of Homeland Security in the United States might use a FIX to exchange intelligence information.

3. International Communication: The United Nations or similar international organizations may use federal internet exchanges to communicate and share information securely among member nations. Policies, resolutions, reports, statistics, and other communication may be exchanged via a FIX, allowing for secure and efficient global communication.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is a Federal Internet Exchange (FIX)?

A: A Federal Internet Exchange (FIX) network infrastructure allows government agencies to connect and exchange internet data.

Q: When and why was the Federal Internet Exchange created?

A: The FIX was initiated in the late 1980s with an intention to permit the exchange of Internet traffic between U.S. federal systems and the commercial sector, without going through the slower links of the ARPANET.

Q: How many Federal Internet Exchanges were initially set up, and where?

A: Initially, two Federal Internet Exchanges were setup – FIX East in College Park, Maryland, and FIX West in California’s NASA Ames Research Center.

Q: What is the primary function of the Federal Internet Exchange?

A: The primary function of the Federal Internet Exchange is to facilitate faster and more efficient communication and data exchange between federal government systems and the commercial sector.

Q: Is FIX connected to the global Internet?

A: FIX was initially separate from the global public Internet, but over time, it became integrated into the overall Internet structure as the distinction between the government and commercial sectors gradually disappeared.

Q: Who manages the Federal Internet Exchange?

A: The management of the Federal Internet Exchange is the federal government’s responsibility.

Q: Are Federal Internet Exchanges still in operation today?

A: The original Federal Internet Exchanges, FIX East and FIX West, ended operation in the mid-1990s. Nowadays, the functions these exchanges provide have been subsumed into the broader Internet infrastructure.

Related Finance Terms

  • Routing Protocols
  • National Information Infrastructure
  • Network Congestion
  • TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)
  • ISP (Internet Service Provider)

Sources for More Information


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