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Connecting Iberia with the world

Zigor Gaubeca Aire Networks.jpg
Zigor Gaubeca

Spain-based wholesale operator Aire Networks is working hard to strengthen Iberia's strategic connectivity, as well as bringing its data centres and edge capabilities to lesser-served areas across its home market. Zigor Gaubeca, the company's director of engineering and technology, explains how.

While the reach of Spain-based operator Aire Networks has grown considerably since it was founded in 2002, its ethos has remained the same: helping local customers connect. The company’s overall objective is to provide a comprehensive platform of telecoms and audiovisual services to its customers under a one-stop-shop model within the five categories of connectivity, voice, cloud and data centres, wholesale, and media.

Zigor Gaubeca, Aire’s director of engineering and technology, says the firm moved about five years ago to start building a bigger network in Spain and an international presence. To this end, it has made significant strides across a variety of its offerings.

For one thing, the company connected its backbone with Marseille this June, establishing a link to a key European interchange for data traffic. This move will also help with the projects it has under way to meet the region’s demand for data.

Likewise, a new partnership with Italian telecoms carrier Sparkle has seen Aire Networks expand its international presence in more than 90 points of presence and 20 European countries. Under the agreement, both companies are connected in Marseille, and Aire will be able to offer connectivity services from there to the main European cities via Sparkle’s pan-European network. This will offer greater connectivity to international carriers, hyperscalers and local customers.

In a further move, Aire recently linked up autonomous system number (ASN) 29119 with the US, giving it access to better routing via the internet and thus helping optimise latency. “This means we have access to the highways of the internet,” says Gaubeca. “The capacity and the latency for us are special because our customers can have the best service.”

Home comforts 

As for Aire’s home market of Iberia, this is growing as a strategic location. Gaubeca points to the various submarine cables linking Portugal and Spain with Africa and Europe that have been rolled out in recent years or are on the way, such as Google’s Grace Hopper landing in Bilbao and Equiano in Portugal.

This is where Aire’s expertise comes in. “These cables need terrestrial connectivity to the different landing points because you have to transport this traffic to different landing stations or data centres in Spain or Europe,” says Gaubeca. “So it’s very important to be there.”

Although based in Spain, Aire made its presence known across the peninsula with its acquisition of Portuguese operator Ar Telecom last year and has just finished connecting its Spanish network with the neighbouring one.

Aire’s data centres are another piece of the puzzle, with the company seeking to seize on new opportunities by building data centres away from the heavily catered Madrid and ensuring it is as close to its customers as possible. The company has recently built a data centre in Málaga, and is looking to construct new ones in Bilbao and Lisbon too.

At the edge 

In addition, Aire is focusing on building out orchestration capabilities for edge data centres – something that Gaubeca says is particularly important to some of the hyperscalers that Aire is talking to. It’s also important for helping SMEs with digitalisation, ensuring low latency on a par with companies closer to urban centres.

With the Russian war in Ukraine, not everything is rosy for the region, however. Price surges for electricity are taking a toll across Europe and Iberia is not exempt, meaning effects for energy-hungry data centres. However, Aire Networks is working towards alleviating this challenge for its customers by striking up agreements with utilities companies and installing solar panels.

Despite this recent challenge, the company is forging towards the future as it goes on supporting its customers’ needs in myriad ways. And with backing from Ardian, a leading private investment house, Aire has its own source of support to continue advancing its goals.

Gaubeca thinks the company has a strong range of multifaceted tools to support those aims, from the Iberian Peninsula to the rest of the world. “We are not just a data centre provider,” he says. “We are a communications service provider, with cloud services, backup services, disaster recovery… we have a lot of options for the customer.”