The importance of service continuity guarantees

The importance of service continuity guarantees

Internet, business, Technology and network concept. Concept for

Brendan Press, CCO at Gulf Bridge International (GBI), considers how cable operators can mitigate the incidence of network outages through service continuity guarantees.

As of early 2023, TeleGeography predicts that there are 552 active and planned submarine cables across the world. These engineering masterpieces are thousands of kilometres long, armed with the duty of connecting the world in the digital age.

But with the growth of AI, the cloud and IoT pushing demands for data increasingly at the ‘edge’, terrestrial and subsea cable providers are facing unprecedented capacity pressures year-on-year, with an increasing need for service certainty and zero outages.

According to the Uptime Institute 2022 Outage Analysis, 80% of data centre managers and operators have experienced some type of outage in the last three years. In an age where business operations rely on uninterrupted connection, the consequences are too costly. It’s therefore crucial that the right measures are put in place for peace of mind and reliable connectivity. Increasingly, this means providing multiple protection paths is cementing cable providers' role in the digital economy of the future.

Recognising the commercial significance

Cable operators are undoubtedly feeling the pressure, not least because some existing cables are reaching the end of their economic life in the next few years. While they are facing their own operational strains, such as capacity pressures driven by demand for low latency connectivity, customers expect service assurance 100% of the time.

Data centre operators and over-the-top (OTT) providers are dependent on the cable infrastructure which underpins the continuity of their services. We are seeing more localised data centres, with operators moving closer to their customers to lower latency. Yet, the success of this is dependent on access to cables that can deliver superfast and consistent connectivity. So, with new low latency-dependent technologies such as 5G, IoT and AI accelerating at a record pace, the cable ecosystem needs to exploit all available avenues of service diversity.


Cable providers in particular can derive significant market benefits by offering service continuity guarantees and ‘protection-as-a-service’. The term has recently become a staple of the sector and can be understood as a direct consequence of rising competition coupled with the incidence of network outages. Put simply, protection-as-a-service means at least two cables support one connectivity pathway, so if one cable experiences an outage, data travels via a backup cable to guarantee continuity of service. This has to become the norm for all service commitments. Most of the larger hyperscalers / OTT’s build this into their commercial models, committing to at least two cables to provide full-service assurance on major routes.

Cable providers do this by collaborating with other cable providers, enabling both parties to benefit in this mutually dependent risk environment. First, it allows collaborating partners to offer more resilient and diverse end-to-end connectivity, creating a larger and more extensive network. The other, more significant benefit is in its cost-sharing potential. With the significant costs associated with short term and immediate infrastructure requirements, collaboration improves financial viability and customer satisfaction.

Route diversification

Another option is to diversify routes organically. This approach offers a unique competitive edge, allowing cable providers to expand their customer base in existing regions and enter new markets experiencing insatiable demand for higher bandwidth.

For operators seeking to diversify their network away from existing bottlenecked routes – typically located around highly developed global hubs – investing in new infrastructure unlocks massive market opportunities. By moving away from these high-traffic submarine routes connecting countries, cable providers can open new connections with untapped areas and provide a more diversified network.

With regards to the connectivity landscape in the Middle East, we are now seeing a proliferation of newly planned terrestrial cable routes running through countries such as Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. This diversification not only accelerates the region’s digital transformation efforts, but also alleviates existing capacity strains along saturated cables.

Key metric for competitiveness

Cable operators are at the brunt of the unprecedented shift in the way that individuals and businesses consume and demand data. They provide mission-critical infrastructure which channels investment into regions, accelerating the digitalisation of societies.

For businesses looking to invest in new regions, guarantees of reliable connectivity through network redundancy – even in the event of an outage – is crucial in mitigating uncertainty and market risk. Therefore, protection-as-a-service is an increasingly attractive and necessary offering for prospective customers as we enter a new era of capacity requirements. To truly unlock the development of digital economies, we must provide protection to the existing cable ecosystem by opening new routes that can power our businesses, cities, and countries’ digital evolution.

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