Currents of Change: Empowering the Growth and Interplay of Subsea and Interconnection

By DE-CIX
DE-CIX

Content network demand has overtaken the public Internet as the major driver of continued route development.At the moment, the ecosystem of global interconnection and the worldwide web of subsea cables are experiencing a concurrent and dynamic expansion, making waves across the globe and generating a new era of diversified routes and developing nodes. As it stands, global IP data traffic is expected to reach 278,108 petabytes per month in 2021, and these burgeoning bandwidth needs are a clear driver of interconnection due to its ability to empower and support digital business. On the other hand, the world of subsea is experiencing a unique shift driven by the influence of a new player: over-the-top content (OTT), resulting in unusual growth and deployment patterns. At the intersection of these two critical components of a flourishing digital world is an interesting interplay of factors, ultimately underscored by the need for capable infrastructure.

DE-CIX, the world’s leading Internet Exchange (IX) operator, as a result of their partnership with Seaborn, a leading developer-owner-operator of subsea fiber cable systems, now sits at this dynamic junction between interconnection and subsea, serving as a crucial business enabler. To understand exactly why DE-CIX chose to help connect and enable this critical interplay of peering and subsea, and how they are empowering businesses through that connection, a great place to start is by looking at key drivers of subsea systems.

Subsea Cables and Interconnection Hubs
The interplay of diversifying routes and peering markets, White Paper produced by DE-CIX
(Download Here)
Throughout the history of subsea cables, drivers such as the telegraph, voice telephony and internet have had their heyday. Now, the new era is being driven by OTT or private content networks. These entities, such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Netflix and the like, have steadily overtaken the more traditional internet backbone providers in terms of bandwidth and new route development. DE-CIX recently produced a whitepaper that explores this phenomenon, noting that it’s particularly prominent on the trans-Atlantic, the highest capacity subsea route in the world. While internet backbone providers have increased their bandwidth usage on the route at a compound annual rate of 21 percent, content providers have grown their demand by 78 percent to reach more than 77 Tbps in the past 5 years. This dominance stems from OTT’s huge consumer growth brought on by a rising number of end-users favoring streaming services. In fact, statistics show that OTT revenue is on track to grow from $46.5 billion in 2017 to $83.4 billion in 2022.

Now though, this tremendous growth in content is driving an interesting new shift in the ecosystem of subsea: OTTs are moving from capacity buyers to system builders. While Netflix, Google and Facebook originally grew as wholesale bandwidth customers, they soon became so large that it made more financial sense to build their own international systems. These providers’ desires to lower their costs, create their own network topologies and develop route redundancy and resiliency, combined with their need to reach massive data center nodes (sometimes in isolated locations), mean that the subsea cable world is seeing some unusual deployment patterns. For instance, Ireland has become a hub for subsea landings due to its beneficial taxation plans, with systems like GTT Express, AEC-1 and AEC-2 all having landings in the region.

Of course, with this burst of diverse and non-traditional subsea development, new nodes are also emerging for interconnection to flourish. While it’s unclear whether these subsea build-outs lead the growth of peering hubs or follow it (although there are cases that indicate both), the need for more and increasingly capable interconnection nodes is undeniable.

In our fast-paced digital world, peering provides many-to-many connectivity to a range of businesses with close proximity, creating critical density. This enables direct connections through digital exchange points that augment latency and security. Plus, interconnection offers benefits for content providers in the form of augmented support for sky-high compute and storage bandwidth demands from end users. Overall, peering enables improved performance and greater control. Essentially, content providers are extending their networks to new locations over their subsea systems, where they then peer publicly with carriers at Internet Exchanges in those locations, or they arrange private interconnections.

DE-CIX wants to facilitate this process from both the subsea side and the peering side. To meet the needs of growing content within the context of expanding subsea importance, DE-CIX recently established a partnership with Seaborn. Seaborn’s interconnection to DE-CIX New York enables a business to leverage turn-key direct access from Seabras-1, the first transoceanic system to directly connect the commercial and financial centers of North and South America. With this, DE-CIX further enables the new world of interconnection, brought on by the subsea boom, by providing a low latency, resilient and reliable path between Brazil and the U.S., with further opportunities to reach Europe via DE-CIX’s GlobePEER. At the same time, European networks can now leverage GlobePEER Remote to either connect to DE-CIX New York or to other networks that utilize South American cables to link up to New York via Seabras-1. This allows European networks to actively work toward a reduction in latency to South America, further facilitating a more seamless world of communication.

This eve of new and diversifying global subsea networks, brought on by shifting drivers like content, is changing the way traffic flows around our world and between businesses. While the end result of these unique build-outs may still be shrouded by an array of factors yet to come, the accelerating demand for both subsea and interconnection is clear. Furthermore, the synergy between subsea routes and peering markets is an occurrence the global industry is still learning more about. However, businesses and enablers like DE-CIX are working to remain ahead of the curve, providing peering opportunities and highly capable infrastructure to empower and facilitate the connected world at any and every critical hub on a growing international footprint.

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Networks

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