CEO, DE-CIX International
Hybrid work entails running multiple applications simultaneously — video calls, cloud documents, emails, chat conversations — that means fast, responsive Internet speeds are a must. Lagging connections are especially disruptive to video calls (missed your colleague’s words and everyone waits while you are brought back to speed) and collaborative work documents (edits your co-workers made are still loading on your end, you are in limbo while everyone one else is already discussing).
A solution to faster Internet speeds lies in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites offering interconnection from space. These satellites are a product of DE-CIX, an Internet Exchange operator providing carrier- and data-center-neutral services. CIO World Asia spoke with Ivo Ivanov, Chief Executive Officer from DE-CIX International about the opportunities LEO satellites bring towards client engagement strategy and ventures in untapped markets.
Faster Internet Speeds And Hybrid Work
In the post-pandemic era, we are seeing the hybrid work model becoming more commonplace in many organisations and businesses. As more economic activity moves to the digital sphere in this environment, fast, reliable, and fail-safe Internet connections with the lowest possible latency are becoming more crucial for a good end-user experience.
From a business perspective, latency issues will effectively cost money. Productivity will be disrupted should work processes be affected by poor connectivity. Industrial activities like remote robotics, AI-supported research and development, and the various technological advancements would not be conceivable without the performance, security, and resilience that comes with the lowest possible latency. As such, latency in digital services and applications is truly revenue- related. Latency is the new currency.
In today’s age, the growth of cloud services and their rising adoption are extremely prominent, and this only leads to the increasing importance of faster Internet speeds, lower latency, and reliable connectivity. Singapore is one of the most advanced and highly penetrated public cloud markets in the APAC region, expected to grow at 20% CAGR to US$3.5 billion by 2023 from 2018, according to BCG. As more enterprises – both large and small – increasingly use cloud storage, computing, or applications sourced from the cloud, the prevalence of cloud services is only set to grow.
Connecting directly to cloud resources means that no data needs to flow over the public Internet, with the added benefit that the data travels along the shortest path, improving performance and latency. This is ideal for business-critical applications like managing transaction data, IoT and AI use cases, as well as for latency-sensitive applications drawn from the cloud, such as virtual desktop functionalities and video conferencing applications – key tools used in the hybrid work model.
DE-CIX offers enterprises both the lowest latency and the highest resilience and security. Companies need high-performance, secure interconnection in order to do business. In the digital world, resiliency is business-critical.
LEO Satellites For Faster Internet Speeds
A LEO satellite Internet network can be set up and made usable comparatively quickly as compared to fibre optic cable infrastructure. The proximity to the earth allows for faster Internet speeds and low latency in comparison to geostationary satellites as well. As a result, it offers an ideal opportunity to support network expansion and provide Internet coverage in rural areas while the rollout of fibre-optic infrastructure is in progress.
Having said that, it is important to use a combination of fibre-optic and LEO satellite Internet networks. Fibre still remains superior to the alternative from space in terms of speed and latency. In addition, satellite Internet-related infrastructure on the ground continues to depend on fibre.
Satellites will not be able to completely replace the fibre-optic network in the near future – but the satellite operators are probably not even aiming for this. On the contrary, it is becoming apparent that the greatest added value is created when both technologies exist side-by-side in a meaningful symbiosis and can benefit mutually from each other.
At the same time, it will be a long time before network coverage guarantees fibre-optic Internet for everyone. Until then, satellites can help to remedy the situation.
A LEO satellite Internet network can be set up and made usable comparatively quickly as compared to fibre optic cable infrastructure. The proximity to the earth allows for faster Internet speeds and low latency in comparison to geostationary satellites as well.Ivo Ivanov, CEO, DE-CIX International
Benefits Of LEO Satellites For CIOs And CTOs
In metro areas, LEO satellite networks build upon the existing digital infrastructure wherein they help conceive a distributed infrastructure involving multiple redundant pathways, creating the resilience necessary for critical applications and data – on top of fibre-optic and mobile networks.
In more rural areas, satellite Internet can transitionally be a tremendous asset for businesses, allowing them to implement long overdue technological innovations. CIOs and CTOs can leverage LEO satellite technology to ensure the smooth operations of a well-connected branch office in these regions, without the need to worry about connectivity. As mentioned above, LEO satellite technology offers an ideal opportunity to support network expansion and provide Internet coverage in rural areas while the rollout of fibre-optic infrastructure is in progress. Also, LEO satellites are relatively more affordable than having fibre rolled out in these regions.
The digital economy is only set to flourish in APAC post-pandemic. Businesses have already had to ramp up their digitalisation efforts as consumers are increasingly turning to the online sphere for their day-to-day activities. According to a joint survey by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, nearly 75% of organisations accelerated their pace of digitalisation due to the pandemic, alone in Singapore. However, almost 2.4 billion people, or 55% of APAC’s population, still remain offline according to data from the UN International Telecommunications Union. Furthermore, more than 3 billion people live further than 10 kilometers from existing networks such as high-capacity fibre optic cable structures, resulting in many of these communities being less likely to be able to access broadband Internet.
As such, CIOs and CTOs can capitalise on the immense growth potential that the region has, especially underserved and rural areas, through LEO satellite technology to establish their presence and connect with these markets.
As such, CIOs and CTOs can capitalise on the immense growth potential that the region has, especially underserved and rural areas, through LEO satellite technology to establish their presence and connect with these markets.Ivo Ivanov, CEO, DE-CIX International
An Outlook Of Internet From Space
LEO satellites are opening new frontiers in the delivery of the Internet to regions of the world that have so far missed out on connecting to the digital superhighway. However, Internet from space will not become the norm for providers.
As mentioned above, fibre still remains superior to the alternative from space in terms of speed and latency. Given this, Internet from space serves as an excellent complement, especially when the rollout of fibre-optic infrastructure is in progress within rural and underserved areas, creating opportunities for businesses there.
LEO Satellites For Client Engagement
DE-CIX role in the LEO satellite narrative on a global scale is interconnecting LEO satellite Internet operators with thousands of other networks to assure the best quality connection for their customers. This is done through the DE-CIX Space-IX Program, where they support satellite network operators of all kinds through high-performance interconnection on the ground, as well as the company’s thriving digital ecosystem of networks. By connecting to DE-CIX, LEO satellite operators have the option of becoming a further type of Internet service provider in the digital ecosystem, alongside terrestrial and mobile networks.
Through directly interconnecting with other networks and cloud providers on the DE-CIX platform, satellite network providers can offer reliable high-speed, low-latency digital services to their customers. Direct interconnection, or peering, at an Internet Exchange such as DE-CIX also lowers costs for the satellite network operators as it significantly lowers the cost they would normally have to pay for terrestrial transit.
DE-CIX pays close attention to clients’ ever-evolving needs and work alongside them to address their needs and bridge market gaps – providing them with reliable, secure digital infrastructure to tap into for growth.
Expanding reliable Internet coverage to rural areas is a platter of opportunity for facilitating companies’ presence in untapped markets. Individuals from rural areas are prospective clients, and with faster Internet interconnection, hybrid employees too.