March 16, 2022 | 4 min read
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The fabric of global broadband

Mo Hafez

Senior Solutions Engineer, Expereo

Most smaller business – and all consumers – get the connectivity they need from an ISP: Internet Service Provider, offering basic connectivity to the world wide web, without bells or whistles. But good luck running anything with enterprise-scale ambitions on that alone.

Why? Because Broadband and Dedicated Internet Services vary widely from country to country – not just in available bandwidth, but in the deeper structure of data traffic and how things like peering, routing, and other asymmetries are handled.

As an MSP (Managed Service Provider), Expereo sees the roles of MSP and ISP as complementary. After all, we've been working with ISPs all over the globe for years, integrating their services as the underlay for business-class networks with SASE or SD-WAN solutions. But it's useful to know how these internet connectivity services operate and the hurdles they overcome when done well.

In this article, we look at some of the oddities in the internet fabric worldwide . . . and how Expereo deals with them.

Internet: the invisible ocean

Of course, most of the time the web just works. But like a lot of things that look smooth on top, the internet experiences seething turmoil under the surface.

For starters, Internet on a global basis is inconsistent, and that is primarily because Internet consumption is local without regards to how data travels across international borders. And BGP, or the Border Gateway Protocol – the foundational protocol of the Internet – isn’t foolproof: as events like 2021’s outages at Facebook and AWS attest.

Add to this differing patterns of usage (which affects how networks are provisioned for upstream and downstream traffic) and capacity squeezes at critical touchpoints (which create bottlenecks) . . . and you’ll start to realize why Expereo takes such an interest in the subject.

The takeaway thought here: variances in internet services aren’t universal, but differ from nation to nation. Southern Europe’s issues aren’t the same as South America’s. Africa isn’t a homogenous continent, but a patchwork of services, each with its own special cases. Even North America has its logjams between the Coasts and rest-of-world.

For brevity, let’s look at three illustrative cases: China, Brazil, and the UAE.

Peering into the Chinese paradigm

First, China. As any visitor will confirm, internet connections within Chinese cities – both mobile and fixed – are often superlative. The problems start when you need traffic to flow smoothly between China’s local internet providers, or outside its borders.

Without the tradition of openly passing on other providers’ traffic that evolved among Western ISPs, competing Chinese telcos do not co-operate with one another and only incidentally send packets between each other. This means they have a lack of formal peering, which slows inter-regional traffic to a crawl. The problem worsens if you want your global network to leave the mainland, as you have to content with both poor peering and the Great Firewall.

Services like Expereo's China Premium Internet solve problem by establishing dedicated peering agreements with China's incumbent telcos (China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom) and handle the internet-peering arrangements for both domestic and international IP traffic to ensure truly dedicated, high performing Internet service. In one example, packet loss between a customer's network in Shanghai and Singapore fell to 0% from over 25%, and latency dropped from over 400 ms to just under 90 ms.

Brazil: a country of contrasts

The vast nation of Brazil is web-crazy: 70% of its citizens are online despite its inconsistent infrastructure. Perversely, this has created a problem for business Internet services.

Bandwidth in Brazil concentrates on local consumption, which means ISP service in business districts, or even in residential areas can face bottlenecks in service, and especially where international traffic is concerned.

Again, Expereo solves this (and for much of the South American continent) by building relationships with local Internet providers, and working with them to help establish better Internet peering for both domestic and International traffic.

Take two ISPs in different cities where Expereo customers are hungry for service. Expereo gives those ISPs a business incentive to peer with each other, creating reliable connectivity and bandwidth between two locations that wasn't there before.

The Middle East: gold-plated internet service

Another issue comes from the UAE, a nation that includes both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Despite massive investments in infrastructure, the cost of a single dedicated internet connection can be eye-popping. And at the speeds business connectivity needs, dedicated lines are often the only option.

This is because ISPs in the region are without the kind of competition that would reduce prices or improve services. Once again, overcoming this obstacle comes down to relationships. Expereo combined its technical savvy in internet routing to build customers (with the help of local service providers) solutions that meet their bandwidth requirements all the while saving substantially on delivery costs.

Understand the fabric – or let Expereo understand it for you

When building a global internet service underlay, it's not enough to look solely at the individual connections. Because connectivity results from a diverse set of structural limitations and constraints in the fabric of each country's infrastructure, no two nations are quite the same.

Expereo, as a leading provider of business networks, has intimate knowledge of these global and regional differences – and we make it our business to understand and overcome them, so your applications and data can flow optimally around the world.

If you're expanding into the world's diverse regions, why not talk to Expereo about your requirements today?

Mo Hafez

Senior Solutions Engineer, Expereo

Mo Hafez is a Senior Solutions Engineer at Expereo bringing over 12 years of experience in design, implementation and management of IT connectivity solutions, with a passion for problem-solving and building client relationships to help achieve business-critical requirements.

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