Equinix and Vodafone team up for Genoa digital hub
Equinix will construct a new subsea cable hub in the Italian city of Genoa. Located in the northwest of the country, due south of Milan, Genoa has a long history of maritime trade, with roots reaching back through time before the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, Genoa emerged as one of Italy’s foremost city states, and its position as a hub of trade with Europe, the Mediterranian and beyond was widely recognised.
Now, the ancient trading city will be host to a new kind of exchange: data.
The new subsea cable hub, GN1, will be Genoa’s first carrier-neutral data centre and one of the landing stations for the 2Africa subsea cable, a 37,000 kilometre megascale infrastructure project that will circumvent the African continent, connecting Europe and the Middle East with 21 landing sites across 16 African nations.
Marco Bucci, Mayor of Genoa, commented on the announcement, “Genoa is known for the central role it has played in maritime trade for many centuries. Thanks to GN1, the city will become one of the main digital harbors of Europe, and play a key role in global data transfer."
The project, which was announced in May of last year, is the work of a consortium made up of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, Telecom Egypt, WIOCC and Vodafone - which is acting as the consortium’s lead participant for cable landings in Europe.
The consortium will use GN1 as a strategic interconnection point for the subsea cable system, something that Equinix claims will create “stronger connectivity in Europe” and contribute “to building an inclusive digital society for all.”
GN1 will also be directly connected to Equinix’s flagship data centre in Milan, which is . Scheduled to begin first phase operations later this year, ML5 will have an initial capacity of 500 racks spread across 15,000 square feet of floor space. The rest of the site buildout doesn’t have a timeline yet, but the completed facility will have a total capacity of more than 1,450 cabinet equivalents and colocation space of more than 45,000 square feet.
"Italy is an important growth market for Equinix in EMEA, as it's a strategic interconnection point for the region and beyond. We are working to give our customers improved access to the expanding global subsea cable network, so they have increased opportunities to expand internationally,” commented Emmanuel Becker, Equinix’s Managing Director for its Italian operations.
“Thanks also to the opening of our new data center in Milan, ML5, we are creating an interconnected metro area where customers can connect with strategic business partners in Italy and across the world."
The 2Africa cable 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. Once operational, it is expected to have a transformative impact on digital economies and data transference throughout EMEA.
According to a 2Africa spokesperson at the project’s announcement event, “The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM1 from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing much greater and more cost-effective capacity. The cable will incorporate optical switching technology to enable flexible management of bandwidth. Cable burial depth has also been increased by 50% compared to older systems, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance, all helping to ensure the highest levels of availability.”
Inside the future of Ireland’s subsea cable landscape
On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, experts from Aqua Comms, GTT, euNetworks, the IDA, and European data centre leader Interxion will take part in a virtual panel to explore the evolving relationship between subsea cabling, digital transformation, Data Gravity and the future of Ireland’s digital economy.
You can tune in to the event, which is taking place between 10:30 PM - 11:30 PM JST on Tuesday, here - or view it later on-demand. The hour-long panel will also conclude with a 20 minute Q&A session with the audience, moderated by Interxion’s Senior Director of Market Development, Mike Hollands.
The Gateway to Europe
Since the first transatlantic cable was laid in 1858, briefly connecting Newfoundland and Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland has served as a critical gateway for North American organisations looking to gain access to Europe.
Today, some of the largest firms in the world, like Pfizer, Janssen, Zurich, Metlife, Google and VmWare use Ireland for their European Headquarters. The combination of an English-speaking workforce (a boon made all the more important as Brexit makes the UK and the north of Ireland an increasingly complex environment that provides diminishing opportunities to access the rest of Europe), a cultural and regulatory landscape that welcomes foreign investment, and world-class connectivity makes the country an unparalleled choice for firms looking to establish a foothold in the EU.
As a result, Ireland has become one of the world’s leading data centre hubs. And, thanks to the exponential growth of Data Gravity, and the increasingly essential nature of digital infrastructure, Ireland’s role as a launchpad into Europe is only likely to grow more prominent.
The future of Ireland’s digital economy is, experts from Interxion argue, closely linked to its ability to provide connectivity between Europe and North America. The further development of the country’s subsea cable industry will form the keystone of the discussion being held on Tuesday, as experts from throughout the industry share their insights into the challenges and opportunities that face operators working towards a more connected future for Ireland.
Meet the Experts
On Tuesday, speakers from the IDA, Aqua Comms, GTT Communications, euNetworks, and Interxion will discuss key themes, including key facts about Ireland’s existing subsea infrastructure, plans for the future of the industry, the challenges that need to be overcome, the interaction between subsea and terrestrial networks, and the next steps in Ireland’s role as the gateway to Europe.
Ciarán Delaney has served as the VP of Operations and Optical Engineering at GTT since 2017. With more than 10 years worth of experience in the telecoms industry, he’s a leading expert on transatlantic connectivity, with an in-depth knowledge of both submarine and terrestrial cable systems.
Currently serving as the CEO and Director of the Board at Irish submarine cable firm Aquacomms, Nigel Bayliff has more than 30 years of experience in the telecom infrastructure market. His past roles have granted him unique perspectives gained from buying, building and running international submarine cable networks as an operator as well as developing and implementing cables as a constructor.
As the Head of Infrastructure Investment at euNetworks, Toby Williams has spent over a decade developing digital infrastructure throughout Europe, Ireland, and the UK. He has also done extensive work developing dark fibre networks, which are a key component in providing the agility and capacity necessary for operators to overcome the challenges posed by Data gravity.
The Irish Investment Development Agency (IDA) is one of the key drivers of overseas investment in the country, and is responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in Ireland. Shane Nolan has worked in various roles throughout the IDA for more than 18 years, and is currently serving as the organisation’s Head of Technology & Emerging Business.
Interxion: A Digital Realty Company, is one of Europe’s leading data centre operators and, as part of Digital Realty’s Platform DIGITAL, is taking a leading role in raising awareness of the threat posed by Data Gravity. Mike Hollands has served as Interxion’s Senior Director of Marketing Development & Strategy since 2017, and is a 15 year veteran of the industry. At Tuesday’s event, he will serve as moderator, guiding the discussion surrounding the evolution of Ireland’s role as a gateway to Europe and regional data centre and subsea cabling hub.