With the London Olympics attracting millions of visitors into the Capital, it’s been a long-held concern that the Internet and Telecoms infrastructure might buckle under the strain of having to cope with greatly increased demand.
Even without the Olympics putting these systems under pressure, London is an important UK “hub” for Internet traffic and, as you would imagine, has taken steps to upgrade its capacity to cope well with the anticipated new demands. Many people might be surprised to learn that up until very recently, emails sent from a Manchester company to another Manchester company on their doorstep, would be routed down to London and then all the way back to the recipient. The same is the case when someone in Manchester browses the website of somebody else based in Manchester, the website is served to the Internet but via London! All of this may occur close to the speed of light but in reality, there is a speed loss due simply to the density of data traffic crammed into a finite bandwidth. A not-for-profit organisation called LINX (London Internet Exchange) has recently implemented an important strategy that greatly helps London maintain reasonable speeds and resiliency of data transfer and the seeds for this strategy were first sowed by one of M247’s employees.
M247’s talented network engineer, Samer Francesco Abdel-Hafez, contacted LINX some time ago and suggested that Manchester could share the burden of the anticipated increase in traffic. Sam pointed out that there was a technology community in Manchester that was keen on having a local Internet exchange and that obviously M247 had the capability of being pivotal in making all of this happen.
A meeting was quickly arranged at our Trafford Park headquarters and many of the regions big Internet technology players attended, either in person or through video conferencing over the Internet. Very soon afterwards IX Manchester, managed by LINX, was launched at BBC’s Media City and set up so that local Internet traffic could stay local without having first to run the gauntlet through the busy London systems. The establishment of IX Manchester also means that London is now better placed to cope with the Olympic level of data transfer in and around the Greater London region. Other spin-offs from IX Manchester is that traffic becomes better streamlined, faster and cheaper to handle than was previously the case.
With new technologies such as IPTV, on-demand film services, telephone systems, social networks and sophisticated business systems all depending on a robust and every-ready Internet infrastructure, it’s likely that more and more of these regional Internet Exchange Points will appear in order to distribute the data load.
Chris Byrd, Technical Director of M247 said “ If you’re sitting in a Manchester bar watching the Men’s 100 meter sprint final streamed to your iPad while emailing your friend to come and join you, at least now your message doesn’t have to be routed through an increasingly overburdened London before your friend gets to read it. From a speed and cost point of view, this just makes good sense but it was the Olympics that helped motivate us all to make this happen for our region.”