Wellington-based broadband provider CityLink is to build four more peering exchanges throughout the country to complement the two existing exchanges in Auckland and Wellington.
Work has begun on the first two, in Hamilton and Christchurch, and work will start in Dunedin and Palmerston North early in the new year.
The existing peering exchanges, the Auckland Peering Exchange (APE) and Wellington Peering Exchange (WIX) allow customers to connect their networks openly with other customers. While ISPs are the logical users of such a system, managing director Neil de Wit says most of the clients are companies rather than internet providers.
"They work rather like roundabouts, to borrow a term from the roading system. They keep the traffic flowing constantly."
De Wit says the aim of such exchanges is to make more efficient use of network infrastructure. Rather than routing a call or connection via a main central exchange, regional peering exchanges will allow customers to exchange data and connect locally.
"It keeps local traffic local."
De Wit says allowing connections to be made locally will mean users in Dunedin, for example, will be able to connect to other Dunedin companies quickly and cheaply, without having to see their data travel to Auckland or Wellington and back first.
Dunedin-based developer e-Media's managing director Carl McNeil is eager to find out more.
"We're definitely keen and if it helps drive down communication costs then that will be great news."
Hamilton-based ISP Wave Internet is also interested, according to marketing manager Wayne Attwell.
"There seems to be a lot going on with various companies. Currently we peer in Auckland so if we can move that closer to home that will be good news." Wave has a supplier-agnostic approach says Attwell.
"We work with Telecom, with TelstraClear, with Wired Country, anybody really."
Masterton-based ISP WISE Net is outside the reach of even the proposed Palmerston North exchange, says managing director Keith Davidson, but if it were within reach he'd be "at them like a rabid dog".
"Unfortunately we'd have to dig a trench about 100 km long to get there." Davidson is hopeful that any future plans would include the south east coast of the North Island.