New Hub May Be on Its Way to Scotland

Mar 1, 2013

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One of the most important pieces of data centre news to date, at least in Scotland, may be the fact that a new hub could be on its way to Edinburgh. Known technically as an “Internet exchange,” the new hub would significantly reduce download times by increasing both bandwidth and data transfer speeds. Currently all Internet data access in Scotland goes through the London Internet Exchange (LINX), even when that data is being stored on a Scotland-based server. The fact that data must first travel to London and then back again makes things slower than they need to be. The slower speeds are easily seen when accessing streaming media, playing online games, or connecting to corporate databases. Representatives from LINX will be meeting with Internet service providers in Edinburgh in the near future to discuss plans for setting up the exchange. If all goes well it would be deployed in an existing data centre right alongside current equipment. Adding an exchange is not terribly complicated and it could be completed in just a couple of months. LINX recently completed a similar project in Manchester. Among IT services providers, business executives, and politicians the desire for an exchange based in Scotland is nearly universal. Right now Scotland lags behind both England and Ireland in terms of its high-speed Internet options. While the other two are now aggressively pursuing super-fast broadband services, providers in Scotland still have to make do with what they have. Adding an exchange in Edinburgh would be the first step in helping them catch up. Experts say the average web surfer will not notice a difference for simple tasks like checking e-mail and reading the local news. However, the increase in speed and bandwidth will be very noticeable for data-heavy Internet use. Once the exchange is up and running consumers will be able to download large amounts of data up to 15 times faster than they currently enjoy.

Why This Must Happen

The idea of a new Internet exchange in Edinburgh is not only good news; it is something that absolutely must happen. With each passing day, countless numbers of mobile devices are being added to the worldwide Internet community leading to a new way of utilizing IT services and data communications. It is a big new world of consumption-driven Internet use with a heavy emphasis on streaming media. Companies like Amazon and eBay would love to set up operations in Scotland if they could get faster and more robust service. Moreover, consumer-based services like Skype cannot exist in areas where speed and bandwidth are not acceptable. If Scotland is to keep pace with England and Ireland, it absolutely must have its own exchange. Once the exchange is up and running, the next project will be to get Scotland on board with super-fast broadband. Between the two they should be better able to compete in the hottest areas of IT services including virtualisation, cloud computing, on-demand collocation, etc. Let's hope the exchange is up and running by summer.