Tapping into Exploding Growth in CALA

Following broader trends, proficient network operators are realizing reduced costs and improved performance by serving content closer to end-users.

Spanning 6,000 kilometers, the high-speed fiber optic PCCS will “help increase digital integration and capacity growth in the region,” according to an Alcatel-Lucent press release that announced the company has been contracted to also deploy the PCCS system. The 100G subsea cable system links six countries across eight landing stations in Jacksonville, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Maria Chiquita and Balboa, Panama; Tortola, Virgin Islands; Hudishibana, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; and Manta, Ecuador. The PCCS system is built by a consortium of the networks that will make use of the capacity, made up of leading network providers Telefonica Global Solutions, SETAR NV, Telconet, United Telecommunication Services (UTS) and C&W Networks, each of which will have a presence in Jacksonville to establish connectivity points for customers, peers and partners.  This system is targeted to go live in mid-2015.

With an ultimate design capacity of 80 Tbps, Alcatel-Lucent notes the PCCS utilizes wet plant of cable optimized with submarine fiber and high-bandwidth repeaters, power feed equipment, and the 1620 Light Manager submarine line terminal equipped with coherent technology to support up to 100 wavelengths on each segment at 100 Gbps per fiber pair. From the PCCS landing station connected to Jacksonville’s carrier hotel, the system will initially offer 400 Gbps backed by two 100 Gbps waves on each of two fiber pairs that will be lit at launch (with plans to eventually expand to eight fiber pairs at 100 Gbps).  

The choice of Jacksonville by the sub-sea cable systems underscores the city’s crucial location as the next major interconnection gateway.  Following broader trends, proficient network operators are realizing reduced costs and improved performance by serving content closer to end-users. Accordingly, traditionally under-served regions like Jacksonville are gaining the attention of sophisticated network carriers that are placing servers in these edge markets outside of saturated major metros to meet the continually growing demand in an optimized manner. Connectivity to the cable systems creates a new edge for content and services leaving North America bound for end users.

This development is also of historical significance, as this offers a viable alternative to Miami’s legacy position as the main network access point in the Southeast U.S.  Previously, in order for Internet and private network traffic to reach the Caribbean and Latin America, it traveled over aged terrestrial networks across the Southern Florida peninsula.  The arrival of AMX-1 and PCCS creates at minimum diversity, and at maximum a replacement path for connecting to CALA.  Interconnecting to the sub-sea cables in Jacksonville rather than Miami avoids the hops, latency and cost incurred by traffic following the legacy terrestrial networks across the state of Florida.  This is a favorable advancement for the international network map, as the two new sub-sea cable landing stations in Jacksonville are the next major CALA on-ramp along the U.S. coast north of Southern Florida and south of New Jersey.

Reduced latency and improved performance using the new express routes aren’t the only benefits for the increasingly rampant demand.  Jacksonville’s Northern Florida location offers reduced hurricane risk, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) noting the city is five times less likely to be hit by a major hurricane than Miami. Jacksonville also serves as a key trading point with a robust distribution industry and international deep seaport, which supports $27 billion in economic output (according to a report commissioned by the Jacksonville Port Authority).

This new and improved path to CALA is coming just in time to support the bandwidth requirements from the developing countries in CALA.  Traditionally, the “highest-capacity inter-regional routes had always been Europe-U.S. & Canada and Asia-U.S. & Canada,” going back to 1999 when TeleGeography started following international Internet capacity. However, the economic and technology boom in developing countries helped shift the traffic balance when the Latin America-U.S. & Canada route capacity reached 12.6 Tbps at an increase of 43 percent – exceeding the Europe-U.S. & Canada capacity of 10.5 Tbps. TeleGeography also reports that peak international Internet traffic growth more than doubled every two years in Latin America between 2006-2014, with the exception of 2012.

By bypassing the legacy network and transcontinental interconnection points to reach CALA, networks connecting directly to the sub-sea systems in Jacksonville experience improved performance via an express route built on newer, more direct infrastructure to decrease latency, heighten speed, reduce cost and expand network options. The sub-sea systems have made it easy to connect by linking to the Meet-Me-Room provided by the leading carrier neutral data center that connects to the existing metro and long haul fiber routes for maximum network exposure. Now content, cloud, financial and other service providers can follow the natural flow of traffic to the new edge of the North American network to sell services with differentiated performance into one of the fastest growing regions on Earth.  


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