An offer to host other networks to its switch fabric for free is one way Vancouver-based Peer 1 Networks Inc. hopes to differentiate itself from its colocation competition. On June 9, the company announced that it would offer free peering to any and all comers at three of its colocation facilities - Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal - with further interconnection centres to come online by the end of this summer and as demand dictates. Peer 1 is dubbing the new service PIX. Company officials say businesses are already clamouring to take advantage of the free peering and traffic exchange offer. Chief technology officer Mark Teolis says companies opting to peer with it in its facilities in Canada and elsewhere can significantly improve the speed at which their end users can take advantage of latency-sensitive applications such as online gaming and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony. Peering with the company, he says, can often avoid unnecessary router hops and the delivery of traffic through the U.S.Teolis says that the company has plenty of capacity to offer the free peering. "It’s not a big deal for us to do this thing," he tells NL. Peer 1 already has about 700 customers, around 70% of which are in Canada. With multiple switches across the country, the company can handle easily more traffic than it already does. "One switch could easily handle a Shaw, a Rogers, you name it." The offer to peer for free, he says, is important to building the company’s business. "To have any clout with , you’ve got to have members." Teolis says some ILECs, for example, refuse to peer for free. As a result, he says, he’s heard complaints from ISP subscribers about the speed at which they can use applications that depend on the efficient delivery of packets. "If you’re a VoIP provider, it’ll be an advantage to you to be connected with more networks," he argues. The free PIX service accompanies the launch of a new global load balancing service and new content delivery server mechanism scheduled to be rolled out in late summer.