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Singapore well-placed as Internet exchange

Aspirations to build neutral Net exchange facility well suited to country's position as "technology hub" within "underserved markets", notes optical switch maker.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--The country could become the world's largest Internet exchange because of its position as a "technology hub" situated within many underserved markets, said Glimmerglass.

Jay Bowker, Asia-Pacific vice president of sales for optical switch maker, Glimmerglass, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview the country is in a good location to serve the rapidly-growing Asia-Pacific region. "There are tremendous growth opportunities with underserved markets and especially, with the advent of smartphones [consuming] mobile data," he noted.

An Internet exchange is a facility that acts as a central "meeting place" to manage switching data between Internet carriers.

Bowker said: "Singapore is already thought of as a technology hub. It would stand to reason that it should grow to be the dominant Internet-peering domain for the region."

The Singapore government earlier this year proposed the establishment of a neutral Internet exchange to attract regional and international carriers to use the country as a hub for Internet traffic. The Singapore Internet Exchange (SGIX) is also aimed at encouraging more content providers to host content in the island-state, with the promise of quick and reliable connectivity.

A neutral facility would keep costs low, allowing charges that are "little to nothing" for ISPs to connect, Bowker said. This could also eventually be able to be extended as a premium service to content providers such as Google or Yahoo, giving them assured connectivity to ISP partners on the exchange.

The Singapore government also stated in a fact sheet on the SGIX site that it expects the exchange to enable local users to get "cheaper and quicker access" to the Internet, due to cost savings on ISPs' parts in "reducing dependence on international leased circuits".

Bowker noted that the SGIX should focus on network resiliency to build its name as a reliable exchange.

"In the early days of peering exchanges, [facilities] tended to skimp on resiliency," he said, noting that the Asia-Pacific region's reliance on cables running through disaster-prone areas of the South of Taiwan highlights the importance of an exchange facility capable of quick and efficient switching, in the event of disruption.

Glimmerglass counts the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) as one of its customers. Currently the world's largest Internet exchange, the AMS-IX also relies on the Netherlands Internet Exchange (NL-ix) as a backup site.

When contacted, Singapore's infocomm regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), pointed ZDNet Asia a Web site indicating a board of directors was formed in October this year, for the SGIX. The IDA could not provide additional comments by press time.

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