Network Infrastructure is Now the Fourth Utility

Access to the Internet is almost more important than electricity

By Gil Santaliz, Founder and CEO, NJFX

Published in Issue 6 | April 2021

Telecommunications, and the infrastructure that supports the idea of being connected, has almost become as important as utilities such as electricity. If electricity fails, there are plans for backup power. But, if you lose your IT network, then operating a business becomes impossible. If your connectivity is based on only two or three traditional carriers, then it is time to ensure your understanding of whether or not those carrier assets are actually physically diverse. Today, many scenarios allow common points or what we call “overlaps” in interconnection that create the potential disaster of a single point of failure. The facilities that house these interconnection points are not always purposefully built. Too often they are located in urban environments with unprotected manholes, which make them susceptible to manmade and natural disasters.

As we move into the IoT world, we need the connectivity to be reliably available everywhere. We need devices enabled to coordinate financial transactions, based on real-time information. We need security and life-saving healthcare monitoring applications. And, we need enterprises to be able to offer customers access to goods and services. The luxury of access, what was once simply nice to have, is now a must-have. Just a little more than a decade ago, smartphones were nonexistent. Today’s phones are more powerful than any computer you may have had in your home or at work before. They are becoming the network hub for our daily routines of work productivity, transportation, banking, family connection and daily recreation.

If unreliable connectivity means your business/brand is not available, it affects consumer loyalty to stock price. Brands are based on trust that they are always and reliably available. We expect the Internet to work, whether it’s an app or a smart device. The Internet is the only access to the applications our industry uses to disseminate and collect data. The only way to make sure it works all the time and every time is by having the right infrastructure. Enabling reliable, consistent connectivity requires not only more infrastructure, but also diversity in that infrastructure. Creating this requires layering multiple subsea routes with multiple terrestrial backhaul routes from any network hub that matters.

Connectivity is Key

Data centers, colocation and carrier hotels are a part of the equation, but there is an argument to be made that a data center is only as good as the connectivity available. There also is the question of the US’ East Coast long- haul fiber routes connected into outdated older buildings acting as hubs. These routes date back to the dawn of the Internet, and in some cases, even the dawn of telecommunications. A 100 years ago, we were communicating via telegraph across one ocean. Today, data travels globally at the speed of light.

This globalization means applications are hosted all over the world. You might not even know where your favorite app originates—until it doesn’t work. A small example is the damage in December 2020 to one building of a major telecommunications provider in a large US city. The result was an outage that affected four states. Next time the damage could be even more widespread—continents could be effected.

Today’s enterprise customer no longer can trust a traditional carrier to say “yes, you’re covered.” There are certain questions that need to be asked, like “How does your network work globally?” and “If you have a problem, will I have a problem?”. There has been no shortage of problems. Most recently, with the pandemic, we’ve seen the need for increased global connectivity. We’ve also seen the need for remote hands, meaning technicians who can troubleshoot and resolve any issues from continents away. We’ve seen natural disasters, acts of terror and domestic turmoil in our major cities. There must be a constant review of plans and scenarios for the unforeseen. It’s imperative that customers can serve their endusers under any circumstance.

NJFX was first created as a solution to eliminating choke points. For example, if one or two New York City buildings are compromised, the effects could be catastrophic globally. With NJFX, if the carrier designs their routes to bypass choke points then there can be an entrance/exit point for North America that is not touching the major hubs like New York City, Newark or Philadelphia.