25 May 2018
| Gareth Willmer
The breaking down of barriers to roaming and the surge in
the internet of things are changing the face of the IP exchange market. Christian Wollner, head of product management for mobile world at Deutsche Telekom ICSS, explains how IPX is anticipating constantly evolving needs
How is the rise of business
segments such as the internet of things changing the shape of
the IP exchange market?
The first impact on IPX is that we see growth in traffic,
with an increasing number of devices in a permanent roaming
situation. This is because many IoT devices are equipped with
one SIM card at the manufacturing plant and are then shipped to
different countries. These devices are not just in a holiday
context for a week, but in a roaming situation 365 days a year
– even if many of them only occasionally send
and receive small amounts of data.
The second impact is that we increasingly see that
one-IPX-fits-all is not the way to go any longer. We see more
and more specific requirements coming from IoT, so there is a
need to treat and process this traffic differently to
traditional human-generated roaming traffic. At Deutsche
Telekom ICSS, we are constantly adapting by building a more
specific IPX IoT layer.
What approach are you taking to doing this, and what
kinds of traffic do you need to treat differently?
There are certain use cases where a local breakout of
traffic is needed, rather than being home-routed as with
traditional roaming. As one example, there are countries where
regulation states that some kinds of map data for navigation
are not allowed to leave the country. There are also cases
where it’s important that the content is close to
the user to avoid a high level of latency.
Finally, as retail tariffs are accommodating much more
usage, it is important to start thinking from a network-design
point of view about what traffic actually makes sense to travel
back and forth between the home and visited network.
How has the roam-like-at-home regulation introduced
in the EU last June impacted on the IPX market?
It’s made things very busy. We knew that there
would be traffic growth, but nobody knew exactly how much. At
Deutsche Telekom ICSS, we increased our IPX capacity
dramatically to prepare for this. For example, we upgraded our
IPX ports at AMS-IX (the Amsterdam Internet Exchange) to
100Gbps, becoming the first to do that. Shortly after, we
upgraded several customers and peering interconnections to
100Gbps infrastructure. As it turned out, we saw that data
roaming traffic in summer 2017 exploded compared to the
A big chunk of traffic that’s driving volumes
is from video. For example,
I never used to use Netflix abroad other than on WiFi,
because it would have just consumed so much data and cost me
loads. But now with roam-like-at-home, I’m
sometimes in a hotel and I use Netflix and YouTube, and
there’s no bill shock.
I’m sure that more and more people will lose
their bill shock fear when abroad. Once again, we want to be
prepared. Along with continuous capacity upgrades, we are
already working on the next step-change as well, which will
include upgrading some customer connections to multiple 100Gbps
How would you say Deutsche Telekom ICSS is ahead of
the game with IPX?
We’re a really big global player in IoT and are
well-positioned there. We have a lot of internal demand and we
work together with our Deutsche Telekom IoT team to make sure
roaming works from the beginning.
I would also say that we’re a leader in
security. We have launched an SS7 firewall with which we
protect mobile networks against security threats, and have an
SMS firewall that helps to do away with grey route traffic.
Finally, 5G is coming up. Deutsche Telekom has been among
the first players worldwide to run networks in selected cities,
and we are actively driving 5G standardisation. Our IPX will be
there to enable 5G interconnectivity in a new way.
What are the main challenges in terms of innovating
and upgrading the IPX platform to support all the new
Basically, I would say there’s just so much to
do. Volumes are constantly going up, so we need to work with
our vendors and integrate new technology. The IPX network has
graduated from being a niche network. Now it turns into a
large, robust and secure dedicated network "highway" to connect
all kinds of mobile ecosystems. In line with this trend, we are
digitalising our processes even more. We also need to cope with
a wide variety of services, adapting more to the IoT world and
to areas such as rich communications services (RCS). The
application-to-person (A2P) business is now very interested in
RCS. I am excited about this new momentum, as IPX can be the
enabler here once again.
How do you see the future for IPX?
IPX is being used for more and more services. This
universality is what operators appreciate so much. There is
quality-of-service and security, which is of growing
importance. I think IPX has a good future, provided that it
adapts. The situation of our customers is evolving every day
and if we find answers to these new requirements, then IPX has
a really bright future.