Q&A: Ivo Ivanov, executive board member, DE-CIX International

10 March 2015 |

Capacity Middle East Day 1 - Ivo Ivanov, executive board member at DE-CIX International, talks about developing Dubai as a digital hub in the Middle East.

Ivo Ivanov 340pxDubai, UAE is the home of UAE-IX; what makes the country – and the wider Middle East region – an attractive market for you to operate in?

Home to over 350 million people, the Middle East experienced internet traffic growth rates of more than 16.7% in 2013, the highest growth rate in the world. The region had approximately 102 million internet users in 2014*, yet only 3% of this traffic was generated and delivered within the region, contributing to high latencies and delay for users.

UAE-IX was created to provide regional peering and interconnection opportunities for carriers in the GCC countries. It is the first carrier- and data centre-neutral internet exchange in this region and interconnects global networks, network operators and content providers.

Now, with an exchange in the region, local content can stay local, which delivers a better internet user experience. This better experience includes not only latency and download/upload times, but also stronger IP network resilience, better security and a lower risk of network outages.


What are some of the challenges of operating in the Middle Eastern market?

Pricing for capacity and co-location in the region is still not as competitive as Europe, the US or parts of Asia. However, since UAE-IX started operations in October 2012, we have realised a huge decrease in prices, which increases the exchange’s attractiveness for international internet business.

We also continue to work on educating the marketplace about the benefits and advantages of peering. This includes managing a well-balanced network interconnection strategy, what peering enables and the role that an internet exchange plays.

Importantly, much of the content dedicated to the region (and there is a lot) is still co-located outside of the Middle East (mostly in Europe and the US). One of the primary goals for UAE-IX is to motivate providers to bring local content back home. This will happen when there is a healthy peering and interconnection environment based on proven peering principles.

DE-CIX has gathered a lot of great experience over the past two decades of operation in our home market. We continue to work to expand the knowledge base in the Middle East, too, and we’ve been having a great time doing that so far.


What are your strategic priorities in the Middle East for 2015 and what announcements can we expect from UAE-IX this year?

Our goal this year is to continue to build Dubai as a digital hub in the Middle East.

We will continue to expand operators’ knowledge about peering and the benefits of the internet exchange, and we will continue to increase the number of service providers and ISPs that participate on the exchange this year.

We’ll also continue to work very hard to create a healthy, attractive and highly professional peering environment that motivates regional and international network operators to enhance their business in Dubai for the region. This way, the operators can deliver great internet performance and services to their corporate customers and the enthusiastic internet users in GCC countries.

We have some expansion in the works, too, so stay tuned for upcoming announcements. We will continue to build and strengthen the community in the Middle East to deliver an understanding of how critical a smoothly functioning internet is to the business and residential users in the region.


What major trends do you see occurring in the Middle Eastern market in 2015?

The trends in the Middle East will be similar in 2015 to those in other parts of the world.

We expect internet traffic to increase at very high levels. Also, we anticipate that the number of internet users will continue to grow, putting pressure on operator networks and data centres to grow and expand.

We also foresee that the percentage of mobile users will increase, including the use of smart devices. Increased use of smart devices leads quickly to growth in data both uploaded and downloaded, driving the need for high-performance internet connectivity.

Video consumption is also quickly on the rise, along with cloud services and the gaming industry. These numbers continue to climb, and that will be the case throughout 2015 in the Middle East for sure. 

What does UAE-IX hope to achieve by attending Capacity Middle East 2015?

This event is an awesome connection point for the Middle East telecoms community. It attracts senior management and technical executives with decision-making power. While there, we’ll make new contacts and be able to exchange ideas and experiences.

We have scheduled a lot of meetings with business partners, colleagues and friends from all over the internet world. We’ll see them face-to-face at the conference, allowing us to discuss great deals with new networks to be connected to UAE-IX.

From a strong and relevant conference agenda to breaks and meals that allow for great networking, Capacity Middle East is a “don’t-miss” event for DE-CIX each year. 

*Source: Etc-digital.org http://etc-digital.org/digital-trends/connectivity/internet-usage/regional-overview/middle-east/