The Importance of Neutrality In Our Hyperconnected World

What we can learn about the benefits of carrier-neutral systems

When the GlobeNet subsea system was designed and built in the early 2000s, it was positioned from the onset as a carrier-neutral, carrier-friendly service provider. The assumption then was that a clear demarcation point would be established where the international subsea network would connect with terrestrial networks in order to reach customer endpoints.

Such demarcation points were logically the cable landing stations (CLSs), because these spots could best leverage a potentially large number of terrestrial networks to improve connectivity diversity and extend international services to major Points-of-Presence (POPs) or Network Access Points (NAPs).

In 2003, Brasil Telecom acquired the new GlobeNet system from 360Americas. At the time, GlobeNet was the most advanced fiber optic subsea network built in the Americas and connected the US with Bermuda, Brazil, and Venezuela. What it lacked, however, were backhauls from CLSs to reach major city center POPs.

One of the first priorities under the new leadership was to attract top network service providers to our CLSs at all network endpoints. In the US, the choices were quite obvious. The NAP of the Americas in Miami (formerly Terremark and now rebranded as MI-1 by Equinix) was a logical first choice to connect our CLS in Boca Raton, Florida since most Latin American carriers were present there. Establishing our POP at that NAP meant that we joined a zero-kilometer marketplace where we could deliver our services to and lease services from others. 

Other connection points weren’t as obvious. New York, for instance, had two main “international” locations—the iconic 60 Hudson Street building and 111 8th Avenue. The former won for circuit interconnection (supporting both voice and data) while the latter  became our second POP for IP. Our digital infrastructure world was divided then in two main layers-Layers 1 and 2 (combined) and Layer 3.

In this process of interconnection, we also learned how cumbersome it was to establish a presence at sites run by traditional telecom incumbents. In some countries, interconnection is or was regulated and based on very archaic rules stemming from the deregulation of the mid 1990s. Furthermore, different regulations and different processes can mean different results for different end users.

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