Expanding frontiers for internet exchanges
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Expanding frontiers for internet exchanges

Peter van Burgel AMS-IX (2.5.23).jpg
Peter van Burgel

Amsterdam-based global internet exchange provider AMS-IX has just made its first foray into sub-Saharan Africa with the launch of an exchange in Nigeria. The company's CEO, Peter van Burgel, discusses the strategy and the potential for growth in emerging markets.

What do you see as the big current trends in the internet and data centres in developing regions? 

The internet keeps on growing, with Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America catching up to the Western world, and a huge amount of development going on.

Looking at the demographics of some countries in those regions, there are huge markets with lots of potential. Nigeria, for example, where AMS-IX has just launched an internet exchange [IX] in Lagos in April, has over 200 million people and Africa’s largest economy.

Huge investments are being made in emerging markets, with the building of new data centres and expansion of subsea cable capacity unlocking potential and supporting expected growth. The internet, we believe, is a great stimulant for growth, knowledge-sharing and education, so I think the opportunity for these emerging markets is incredible.

Q. Why did AMS-IX decide to launch an exchange in Nigeria?

AMS-IX is committed to enhancing internet access worldwide by means of public peering. To do this, we set up exchanges in locations where we think we can bring the most value to the local connectivity community and where there is a good prognosis for internet growth.

Nigeria is interesting in this regard and we expect that we can have a lot of impact there. Lagos is strategically located in West Africa, with a number of neighbouring countries that have their own local IX operations too. We believe that Lagos is well-suited to becoming a hub for that part of the world and that we can bring a lot of content there, while working with local partners in neighbouring countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana to provide benefits for the whole region.

In Nigeria, we’ve partnered with Equinix company MDXi, which has a well-established position there with direct access to subsea cables – so that will help too.

Q. Where else looks promising in Africa and what are the company’s future plans across the continent?

Lagos is our first operation in sub-Saharan Africa, but we’re also engaged in discussions with potential partners in countries in East Africa about coming in and helping them to build better internet.

We also have several discussions in North Africa, in places like Morocco and Algeria, and we already run another IX on the African continent with Telecom Egypt in Cairo.

In the region, it’s about partnering with local operators and organisations to see if we can develop markets. We also have many well-established relationships with leading content providers, and we’re talking to them to see if we can bring them in.

Q. How are things developing for AMS-IX in Southeast Asia?

In Southeast Asia, we have a strong relationship with network operator and ICT service provider HGC Global Communications, with which we recently unveiled plans for an exchange in Manila in the Philippines and Bangkok in Thailand.

Furthermore, we support network service provider Irix with an IX in Borneo, which is an interesting market that really speaks to our mission. The island wants to improve local connectivity, and we believe it’s going to be about bringing together a relatively small set of service providers and content to improve things like digital education and payment services.

Q. How would you sum up the company’s approach for going into developing markets?

Our approach is one of cooperation and partnership, respecting local customs and traditions. We also sponsor and actively participate in the local network operator group communities, sharing our knowledge and experience both from the technical and the regulatory side.

We cooperate with local content providers, ISPs, carriers and internet exchanges to be able to offer a rich and fruitful ecosystem. Leveraging our years-long relationship in Amsterdam, we also try and motivate large international CDNs to come to the region and connect locally.

Naturally, each initiative needs to yield a financial return so we can continue investing in the local community. But ultimately, we aim to have a positive impact on the local digital ecosystem through faster internet and lower latency.

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