Total Telecom spoke to the CEO of NJFX and the director of connectivity at Interxion to get the latest insight from either side of the Atlantic.

In the run up to Submarine Networks Europe 2018, Total Telecom caught up with Gil Santaliz, Founder and CEO of the New Jersey Fiber Exchange and Mike Hollands, Director of Market Develepment and Strategy at Interxion, to find out how carrier neutral facilities are faring in the global subsea market.  

What are the advantages of carrier neutral facilities?

GS: A carrier neutral facility allow carriers to collaborate in an independent environment, each on an even playing field, comfortable making investments to share their networks. Imagine renting space from your competitor and spending dollars and having that at risk. A carrier neutral facility eliminates that risk.

MH: A submarine cable that terminates in a carrier neutral data centre secures commercial and operational benefits for the cable’s owners and consortium members.  From a commercial perspective, the carrier neutral data centre operator ensures a level playing field for all parties, removing the high commercial costs often associated with cable landing stations that are owned by one specific carrier.   Operationally, because the carrier neutral facility is home to multiple networks, content providers and service providers, the process of establishing cross connects to partners is more efficient.  The connections themselves are more resilient as they are delivered within the security of the data centre itself.   In summary, carrier neutral facilities increase the likelihood that any submarine cable project will be a success.


How big a role will these facilities play in the evolution of the subsea cabling sector? 

GS: Never has there been a carrier neutral Cable landing station before in the US.  This infrastructure allows for the ultimate in network reliability by having multiple options to leave a cable landing station across North America. In the U.S. NJFX has taken on this model, in Europe, Interxion has taken on this model… there are others working to replicate this around the world.

MH: For these facilities to play a significant role in the development of the submarine cable sector, they need to meet a number of criteria.  Firstly the data centre must operate in a deregulated market, enabling vibrant competition between service providers that can connect the data centre to other key locations.  Secondly the datacenter must develop a community of clients within the facility that value proximity to the submarine cable’s landing point.  These clients need Teir 3+ data centres with the ability to handle growth in IT infrastructure deployments over the long term.  Interxion Marseille, and NJFX are examples of data centres that fulfil these criteria, and hence have become the interconnection points for multiple submarine cable systems.


What trends are you noticing developing in the market?

GS: This new infrastructure will allow for global applications to be seamless because you’re eliminating congestion points – ocean crossing – you used to have to be in the same city, the same geographic location.  Now you have global collaboration in one location. The infrastructure is collectively creating global collaboration anywhere.

MH: In general, I have noticed a trend for participants in the submarine cable industry to be more open to commercial and technical innovations.  Consequently, each new system being built has its own particular features that distinguish it from the value proposition of existing systems.


What new technology are you particularly interested in at the moment?

GS: Virtual reality needing large bandwidth is something that will be globally possible with this new infrastructure.

MH: I am fascinated and impressed by the impact next generation mobile Networks are having in markets such as India.  For example, Jio’s launch in India appears to be having a transformational impact on the lives of millions, while at the same time driving-up the volume of inter-continental video and data traffic – and delivered of course via submarine cable systems.


What new markets are you particularly interested in at the moment?   

GS: As you may have seen, the just announced the Havfrue cable is the first new north transatlantic cable in nearly two decades. Working with Aquacomms on their capacity on the newly announced cable is an honor. Our current aging subsea infrastructure needs investments like this. 

MH: India is fascinating due to the huge population and the impact technology is having on accelerating the country’s economy.  Interxion’s facility in Marseille has developed into Europe’s digital gateway to the sub-continent, and we expect several new systems connecting Europe to India to be developed over the next three years.


Recent reports in the British press suggested that subsea cables could be targeted by terrorist groups in an attempt to disrupt communication networks. How serious an issue is security in the subsea sector and is it being taken seriously enough by operators?

GS: Being an operator is a privilege and a process in the United States.  It’s taken seriously and supported by all the government agencies involved, including the Department of Homeland Secruity.  Global infrastructure is something the U.S. pays a lot of attention to.

MH: The industry addresses the issue very seriously.  Multiple systems are often built by submarine cable operators between key destinations, not just to manage capacity demand, but also to provide carriers and content providers with route diversity.  The intention is to have an underlying base of diverse routes upon which carriers and content providers can build resilient networks that divert traffic from one system to another in the event a system is subjected to accidental or deliberate damage.  The increasing trend to terminate submarine cable systems in Carrier Neutral data centres, with all the data centres’ inherent layers of physical security, is more evidence of the operator’s focus on security.


Both Gil Santaliz and Mike Hollands will be speaking at this year’s Submarine Networks Europe event in London. Gil will be taking part in the Keynote panel, entitled ‘The evolution of the subsea industry’. Mike will be taking part in a specialized panel session focusing on ‘meeting the growing capacity demand of data centres’. Click here for a full agenda and details of how you can be involved.