Total Telecom caught up with Kurtis Lindvist, CMO and Executive Director of the London Internet Exchange (LINX) ahead of Connected Britain 2019 to discuss the crucial role of an IXP in the UK’s internet infrastructure. See below for the full interview.

What do you see as the key opportunities for the UK resulting from the rollout of high-capacity digital infrastructure?

The UK needs to stay at the front of digital infrastructure to remain a competitive market compared to other countries. A competitive market also drives innovation which can be beneficial for everyone. The technology needed to deliver ultrafast broadband, 4G and 5G services, is developing all the time and pilot schemes from networks and government will inevitably shape that direction to a degree. Business and consumer needs are changing rapidly and expectations will likewise increase along with demand. At LINX we’ve definitely seen a change in the types of network that have joined us with more hybrid networks coming on board.

Enterprise is increasingly important with FinTech networks in particular looking to have more control of their data transfer. Digital media, legal services, and healthcare, are also markets on the rise, especially through cloud based systems.

Is the government doing enough to safeguard the UK’s critical infrastructure?
Resilient and robust internet and telecom infrastructure is crucial in today’s society, and the infrastructure is also fast becoming the next battle ground. The government together with the infrastructure owners needs to ensure not only that the UK infrastructure is protected against cyber attacks, but also that it is resilient against failures. LINX’s ethos is ‘working for the good of the Internet’ and that naturally extends to whole eco-system of the UK Internet from its infrastructure to government policy for network providers and end users.
There’s always more that can be done and LINX has always been at the forefront by playing an active role with government, particularly on regulatory issues. LINX’s public affairs team is well respected in the industry and it lobbies strongly and consistently on behalf of the membership to ensure our overriding ethos is adhered to.
What role does an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) play in ensuring the resiliency of the UK’s Internet infrastructure?
LINX is a mutual not-for-profit organisation owned by its members. The LINX peering hub (IXP), is where ISPs, content and access providers, educational networks etc. can connect to and enables them to reach fellow networks in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. LINX operates four platforms throughout the UK allowing for a large diversity of interconnection options, creating additional resiliency in the network. At LINX we’ve long advocated the need for network resiliency which is why we have had a dual LAN infrastructure in London for more than a decade. Primarily it enables us to offer members a robust network service in the capital with a 99.999% uptime where traffic can be re-routed should any issues occur. Ultimately that means members can connect to our exchange with confidence knowing that they will have a service they can rely on.
Why should organisations that rely on connectivity join an IXP and peer?
Put simply peering is the exchange of data directly between Internet service providers, rather than via third parties. An Internet exchange is a hub that allows those network providers to peer that traffic data. LINX has a page on its website which includes a useful video from Euro-IX (the European Internet Exchange Association), explaining how peering makes up the Internet.
LINX’s London network is one of the largest and most complex peering eco-systems in the world, which has developed and grown over a quarter of a century to include 16 London sites from multiple data centre partners. These include Telehouse in the Docklands area, Equinix in the West of London, plus Interxion and Digital Realty. London isn’t the only place we operate, however, and we stress the importance of keeping traffic local. We have supported the UK Internet through our regional peering programme which has been in operation since 2012. We set up our first exchange outside London in Manchester in the same year, which now has over 100 connected networks and a traffic peak of 100 gigabits per second. We also have exchanges in central Scotland as well as the Welsh capital, Cardiff. These satellite exchanges reduce the need for traffic from those areas to trombone via London thus improving latency and giving end users a better network speed.
What are your key predictions for the next 12 months? What trends will most shape the industry?
As I’ve said the UK market must be ready to match the rapid pace of change. Migration of services to cloud providers, hybrid cloud solutions and IoT services will all create a demand for faster and resilient infrastructure. Digital transformation is changing business models in all industries, further increasing the reliability on the infrastructure and expectations on ubiquitous access. These are all developments that will shape and define the industry in the coming years, requiring strategies to cope with the accelerated change.

About Connected Britain
Kurtis will be joining a panel discussion at Connected Britain 2019 on "Improving the resiliency of digitally connected infrastructure". Held from the 18th-19th of June 2019, Connected Britain will bring together the key stake holders from the UK’s mobile and fixed line connectivity sectors. Click here for a full agenda and to find out how you can attend the event.