Q&A: Bjarni Thorvardarson, CEO, Hibernia Networks

Q&A: Bjarni Thorvardarson, CEO, Hibernia Networks

After much anticipation, Hibernia Networks finally launched its Hibernia Express transatlantic cable in September 2015.

Capacity catches up with Hibernia Networks’ CEO Bjarni Thorvardarson to find out about its progress and how it plans to meet growing customer demand in the market.


The Hibernia Express is now ready for service. What have been your priorities since its launch? 

As you can imagine, there is much work to do after you’ve launched a submarine cable. This has been five years in the making, from the preparation to the design through to the landing of the cable. Since the launch of the cable, we have been testing it for capacity and latency.

We want to maximise the cable’s capacity as well as optimise its latency and diversity. That means making sure the route of the Hibernia Express is completely diverse from existing ones. 


What have latency test results produced since its launch?

When we initially designed the system, we were absolutely positive that we could achieve 60ms. When we completed the desktop study, we set another target of 59.5ms. Then we took it down to 59.1ms and everyone celebrated. By working very hard with our vendors, we announced our latest test at 58.95ms. That is a phenomenal decrease and improvement over existing latency. 

There is no such thing as limited capacity. We can grow the capacity of this cable immensely. We know that we can more than double or quadruple the cable’s capacity over the next few years. In terms of latency, our customers want to know that we are the fastest and will stay the fastest. We can incrementally provide better latency by using the latest technology, including the use of radio frequency. 


Who are the potential customers of the Hibernia Express? 

We’ve already announced two high profile customers which represent segments of Hibernia Express’ potential customer base. One is Microsoft, which represents large capacity buyers. Second is Zayo, which constitutes service providers and telcos. 

We are also looking at potential customers in the broadcast and entertainment business 

The financial industry is also important, in particular the companies that are connecting the financial trading cities and exchanges in London, Frankfurt, Chicago, New York and beyond. That customer base is going to grow rapidly as customers increase their circuit counts with us every month. 


How has customer demand evolved since Hibernia Networks embarked on the project five years ago?  

When we started in 2010, we knew the market would demand more capacity in the coming five to ten years. That was a given. That demand for capacity is continuing to grow at around 40% annually. We always knew that the capacity demand would be there. We made a decision to design the cable not just for capacity but for latency as well. The market hasn’t seen a cable of such diversity for twelve years. This is what people have been waiting for.   


What will drive greater demand on the cable in the short term? 

There will be a 40% increase in demand on capacity year on year. This will be a long-term trend, with no end in sight. The drivers behind that are two-fold. First is the continuous growth in the internet driven by video traffic.  

Secondly, as a result of cloud computing, capacity is growing phenomenally between data centres. In addition, machine to machine traffic is reported to increase over 70% each year – that’s the traffic that data centres are sending between themselves. M2M and cloud computing are driving over 40% growth in traffic year over year. Our customers are largely drivers of that capacity in the Atlantic. They have welcomed a route that will now be able to provide them with the diversity, latency and capacity they need.


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