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

01 March 2016 |

Last October, DE-CIX launched an internet exchange in Istanbul, Turkey in a bid to manage exchanges in the region. Its executive board member, Ivo Ivanov, shares the significance of its launch in the region.

What have been the highlights and key developments for DE-CIX in the Middle East in the past year? 

UAE-IX experienced excellent growth in 2015. Global and international content players joined the internet exchange in Dubai, and regional operators expanded their peering. In addition, DE-CIX opened a new internet exchange in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2015. This is a major step as DE-CIX now manages two internet exchanges in the region.

In January, UAE-IX reached a peak in traffic of over 50Gbps for the first time. How was that significant for DE-CIX and what does that indicate about the market?

The traffic peak even reached almost 60 Gbps! The main reason is that regional operators are peering more actively than they did in the past. As a result, much more traffic stays in the region. This is a significant step as it proves our concept of regional peering. Operators are starting to upgrade their capacity at UAE-IX, as they can see the value of peering increasing the more they peer with other connected networks.Ivo Ivanov Decix

Most content dedicated to the region is still co-located outside of the Middle East, in regions like the US and Europe. How do you aim to motivate providers to bring content back to the region in the coming year? 

This is already happening. Providers see the financial and performance-related benefits of peering in the region. Take MBC, Intigral or Selevision as examples. These companies had their content outside the region and now they are available for operators inside the GCC for peering. Same is true for more international content. And have a look at DE-CIX Istanbul: We started the exchange in late November and Turkish content is already available for peering there, from, for example, Medianova and Netdirekt.

What are your expansion plans in the region?

Our biggest expansion in the Middle East was DE-CIX Istanbul. We see huge potential there as the Turkish market is big – in terms of ASNs, it is the biggest market in the whole Middle East. Further, it is well connected to Iraq, Iran and the Caspian countries. The demand for an internet exchange is tremendous – and DE-CIX Istanbul fills this gap perfectly.

There is still lots of potential for growth for UAE-IX. New terrestrial and submarine cable developments in the region will create new opportunities to connect more operators. More international content will be available in the UAE this year.

What are your strategic priorities in 2016? 

First, we want to make our newly-opened exchanges a success in order to drive forward the internet connectivity and user experience in many regions which so far lack a strong Internet exchange. At the same time, we will drive the growth of our well-established exchanges. For the Middle East, this means we will do everything to grow DE-CIX Istanbul rapidly and also make UAE-IX bigger and stronger than it already is. For DE-CIX Istanbul, we have just announced that the exchange will soon be available at the Zenium Istanbul One data center, increasing our reach in the city.

What major trends do you see occurring in the Middle Eastern market this year and how does DE-CIX plan to capitalise on those?

Streaming content, in particular, needs to be closer to the end users. As IP transit pricing in the region is still too high for streaming providers, peering is the answer to overcoming this issue. New backhaul and connectivity routes will help our internet exchanges to grow. Our Internet exchange in Istanbul and UAE-IX in Dubai will help the operators to generate more revenue with transport services.