Marseille: a critical hub

11 July 2017 | Jason McGee-Abe


Marseille, one of the leading subsea hubs in the world, is set to host Capacity’s maiden Subsea Connect event in mid-July. The city is home to a plethora of diverse routes and is a landing point concentrating traffic coming in from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Marseille is increasingly becoming a key hub for the region, offering connectivity through a number of subsea cables which land there.

Submarine cable capacity arriving in Marseille is increasing with two new submarine cables and more capacity on existing cables thanks to upgrades achieved via SEA-ME-WE 4, I-ME-WE and the new SEA-ME-WE 5.

Orange is boosting its Marseille hub to become the Orange hub for IP connectivity in response to the 40% growth in data demand from operators in the AMEA region. It is also in response to the increasing number of content providers choosing Marseille as their hub for content delivery.

With 13 different systems landing in Marseille, the city is the largest gateway to Europe, for Asia, Africa and the Middle-East, offering 152Tbps potential operational capacity. Orange is therefore proactively developing its Marseille Hub to stay ahead of these exceptional changes. 

Marseille’s location gives access to the main communication nodes and offers multiple fully redundant routes to Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris. In the last five years, Marseille has had the highest rapid Internet bandwidth and traffic growth among major European metro areas, showing 66% compound annual growth in bandwidth.

With its network of 450,000km of undersea cables, Orange is now enhancing its expertise in submarine capacity connectivity and maintenance. Customers will benefit from the Group’s specialist expertise, and access to the main submarine systems that land in Marseille. Additionally, as an IP transit operator for IP services, Orange can also ensure seamless and secure IP connectivity directly from Marseille, between its submarine routing systems and its unrivalled IP transit network. Moreover, the Marseille Hub will also offer hosting services and CDN solutions. 

New submarine cables and updated existing submarine cables are now technologically ready to deliver 100Gbps capacity circuits to customers, compared to the industry standard of 10Gbps. Improved local infrastructure in Marseille now gives customers access to the Orange international backbone network, and to all the main connected content providers.

“This latest extension of capacity in Marseille is a major step forward in improving our service for our customers,” said Pierre-Louis de Guillebon, chief executive officer of Orange International Carriers. “We have improved the quality of service across our entire range of integrated solutions including bandwidth, IP, CDN, cloud and cybersecurity services, which is critical for operators from the MEA region. 

“Our ability to speed up data transfer, reduce waiting times and improve overall content delivery will help to accelerate and support the growth of data services across the Middle East and Africa.” 

Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Global, has also recently launched a point of presence (PoP) at Interxion’s data centre in Marseille to enhance its global network by offering direct access to mainland Europe for the first time.

The new PoP will enable Liquid Telecom to offer its customers improved latency and redundancy to Europe, reducing roundtrip delays from Africa by up to 20 milliseconds.

“We are pleased to establish a PoP at one of Europe’s largest interconnection hubs,” said Ben Roberts, Group CTIO at Liquid Telecom. 

“This latest addition to our global network will help support traffic from our carrier and enterprise customers to Europe, delivering a richer content experience for end users and improving access to cloud and content services.”

Colt Technology Services has also established its second PoP in Marseille, as it looks to address increasing demand for bandwidth transit between Europe and Asia Pacific. IP traffic in Africa and the Middle East is set to boom over the next few years, growing sixfold between 2015 and 2020 to 10.9 Exabytes per month. Traffic in Asia will hit 67.8Eb per month by the same year. 

Capacity is also set to launch its inaugural Subsea Americas event in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, on 5-6 December 2017.