Clement Goh (Asia) - Breaking the Bandwidth Bottleneck

Clement Goh discusses rise of National Broadband Network (NBN) initiatives and investment around the Asia Pacific.

With over one-third of the world's population now actively online, Asian consumers continue to display an insatiable appetite for new devices, digital content, and constant connectivity.

The rise of National Broadband Network (NBN) initiatives and investment around the Asia Pacific are healthy barometers for a tide of optimism that will not only help us face the challenges of the data explosion, but also act as protagonists to encourage further bandwidth take-up and the creation of innovative, socially transforming, bandwidth intensive applications.

One red flag however, is the bandwidth bottleneck issue.

While regionally we have enjoyed huge advances in the development and deployment of undersea cables and trans-international connectivity, much of our big data capacity remains landlocked.

By 2016, the Asia Pacific region is forecast to generate the most IP traffic, according to Cisco's Visual Networking Index, at 40.5 exabytes per month. Yes, that is exabytes - a vast amount of data! (One exabyte comprises 1,000 petabytes).

So while national broadband network deployments in Asia are prolific, they are essentially a local connectivity solution. The issue ahead is how do we plan for accelerating global traffic?

In every country, there is a need for national broadband networks to peer with other carriers.  It is a noble idea that NBN will reduce outgoing traffic, but often this traffic has to loop around the world before it comes back. The ideal environment between point-to-point is that you want the traffic to be kept locally for latency reasons and to keep bandwidth costs down, yet a lot of the information and traffic that Singaporeans access is being generated from outside of the country, not within it.

Peering becomes of paramount importance in this bandwidth bottleneck.  Encouraging more providers to host content domestically is one way of helping the bottleneck glut but peering is a much easier solution. When you peer it is a bilateral relationship, traffic is back in your control. Equinix, a global interconnection platform, helps facilitate peering via its 105 IBX data centers located in 38 strategic markets in 13 countries across five continents.

In Singapore, the NBN is not hooked up to an international peering network yet.

In a successful digital economy we want to encourage the development of local apps and services that leverage the rich bandwidth experience that an NBN investment brings.

For local online shopping sites, telemedicine, and other social and healthcare services, easy access to government services, such as paying taxes online, is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of generating high volumes of data and transactions to drive demand for the NBN.

In the business realm, the so-called ‘killer apps' that leverage the cloud and home-grown technology innovation to drive the demand for compelling local traffic, really will be making the difference to the success of NBN take-up.

By Clement Goh, Managing Director, Equinix South Asia