Empty streets, full internet pipes: Ivo Ivanov of DE-CIX


20 per cent surge in data traffic and change in network behavior, says the Internet Exchange operator

Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented surge in data traffic as well as huge shift in network behavior, finds DE-CIX. And this could be a lasting change, not just a short-term phenonmenon, it feels.

“It’s empty streets but full internet pipes,” says Ivo Ivanov, chief executive officer of DE-CIX International, which operates in 22 markets, and in India is present in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Internet exchanges are interconnection platforms through which internet service providers and content providers (streaming services as well as gaming) connect with each other.

DE-CIX reports a more than 20 per cent surge in data traffic in three main areas in India ever since the 21-day lockdown was announced.

The first is the doubling in use of collaborative work applications like Skype, Zoom, Webex by both business users as well as students and educational institutions.

The second is rise in video on demand with a spectacular increase in the time spent on OTT video streaming apps and the third is online gaming. “In India, next to Netflix, Amazon and Google, a trend we have seen is Indian providers like Zee5 and Hotstar are garnering more viewership and are in top five,” says Ivanov.

Network behaviour

Also, the surge has come from residential areas putting pressure on towers and networks there.  “There is a massive shift from business serving networks to residential towers and some pipes in these areas are getting congested,” says Ivo Ivanov,  chief executive officer of DE-CIX International. “Obvious reason is our homes are the only place where any action is happening these days,” he says,

Are the Indian networks resilient enough to take this surge?

“We added capacity and upgraded our platform only last year, without expecting this crisis, so are able to handle the huge demand without bottlenecks at our end,” assures Ivanov. The Cellular Operators Association of India request to OTT video streaming service providers to switch off HD content has also helped reduce load on the networks.

“There is practically no physical limit for the data traffic rates at DE-CIX. Currently, our data  traffic capacity, for example in DE-CIX Frankfurt, is more than 16.5 Tbit/s, record peak is at 9.1 Tbit/s,” he says.

Future impact

Ivanov feels some of these trend shifts will not just be short term  but have implications for future. “The digital infrastructure has to be seen as the backbone for all economies worldwide, as the main way to do business. Governments and all stakeholder need to invest heavily in digital infrastructure – literally we need fibre in every place where people live,” he says.

He also feels there is huge need for India to deploy more data centres. “Data centres are the new manufacturers of  our century. We need more investments in the home of data,” he says.

Also, he feels in future more infrastructure needs to be deployed in residential areas as work from home and digital learning could go mainstream.

Currently present in four cities, DE-CIX has plans to expand in India. “We plan to establish more platforms across the country,” he says.


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