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Equinix and Vodafone Collaborate to Build Digital Hub in Genoa, Connecting Africa, Europe and the Middle East

February 2021 by Marc Jacob

Equinix, Inc. and Vodafone announced a plan to build a new subsea hub in Genoa, called GN1. Situated on Italy’s northwest coast, Genoa has a rich history in maritime trade and is well-positioned to be a key location on the global subsea cable map. Vodafone, which is the cable consortium’s lead for European landings, will land the 2Africa cable system at Genoa and use Equinix’s GN1 facility as a strategic interconnection point for the subsea cable system, creating stronger connectivity in Europe and contributing to building an inclusive digital society for all.

2Africa is one of the world’s largest submarine telecommunications cable projects, driven by a group of partners. The cable will circumnavigate the continent of Africa, directly connecting 16 countries to Europe and the Middle East. This will deliver much-needed internet capacity and reliability, underpinning the further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people. The project will also drive the growth of increasingly digitized economies across Europe by strengthening connectivity between European countries.

GN1 will have a direct fiber connection to ML5, the soon-to-be opened Equinix flagship data center in Milan, and will allow Equinix customers to increase the number of partners they connect with and expand their reach into new markets.

The combination of 2Africa’s landing in the new Genoa site and the direct connection to Milan means GN1 will offer a new, complementary and diverse alternative option for the Mediterranean region. Indeed, as Genoa’s first carrier-neutral data center, GN1 will offer customers secure, resilient colocation and interconnection services, as well as the ability to directly leverage Equinix’s digital ecosystems and colocation facilities in Milan. It will provide a capacity of 150 cabinet equivalents, and colocation space of approximately 6,000 square feet (560 square meters).

2Africa is expected to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key segments of the system. This will be vital to help build a digital society ready for services that require a large amount of data transfer, such as cloud computing or video.

The need for robust digital infrastructures can be seen across the world, and Africa is no exception. The continent is experiencing a critical period of digital transformation and development of its digital economy. In the next few years, digital technologies are expected to be a factor in improving African people’s quality of life and driving economic development in the region. The GSMA predicts that the number of mobile internet users in Africa will continue to grow rapidly, primarily due to the popularization of smartphones and lack of fixed-line infrastructure, which has led to a boom of new services such as mobile payment, instant messaging, online streaming media and short video.

Highlights/Key Facts

• The 2Africa project includes partners from China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC. The cable system will underpin digitization across the African continent by bringing greater capacity, quality and availability of internet connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world.
• Responsibility for landing the 2Africa cable is split between the 2Africa parties depending on location. Vodafone is leading all European landings, along with selected other sites.
• As the home of the interconnected cloud®, Equinix is a natural destination for subsea cable systems and a gateway to new opportunities for system operators and their customers. Equinix hosts over 2,950 cloud and IT service providers on its global platform and can support subsea cable systems in 40 subsea-enabled metros around the world. When subsea cable systems are linked to cloud and content ecosystems on Platform Equinix®, users can access a variety of scalable cloud services almost anywhere they need to be. And because Equinix is carrier-neutral, subsea system operators can offer excess network capacity to customers who otherwise couldn’t as quickly or efficiently reach the markets being served by new subsea architectures.
• GN1 is being built in line with global environmental standards and will contribute to a portfolio of some of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world. Indeed, GN1 is expected to utilize 100% renewable energy. As the world’s digital infrastructure company, Equinix is working to protect, connect and power a more sustainable digital world by proactively addressing its ESG impacts. Equinix recently scored the highest rating on its first response to the DPP’s Committed to Sustainability survey, and joined European cloud infrastructure and data center providers and European trade associations to form the Climate Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact and Self-Regulatory Initiative.
• ML5 will be a new flagship International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Milan that offers state-of-the-art colocation, as well as a host of advanced interconnection services—including Equinix Fabric™ and Equinix Internet Exchange®—enabling virtual interconnections to some of the largest cloud providers in the world, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Google Cloud. When opened, ML5 will provide capacity of 500 cabinet equivalents and colocation space of approximately 15,000 square feet (1,400 square meters).
• The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 4, a market study recently published by Equinix, forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth—the measure of private connectivity for the transfer of data between organizations—will achieve a 45% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2023, globally. The expected growth is driven by digital transformation, and specifically by greater demands from enterprises extending their digital infrastructure from centralized locations to distributed edge locations.




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