Interconnecting the Globe One Subsea Cable at a time

Sami Holopainen
Interconnecting the Globe One Subsea Cable at a time

In many respects, living in Finland is like living at the edge of the world. Greek explorer Pytheas, who lived over two millennia ago, called this remote corner of our planet Ultima Thule, or “as far north as it gets”.

Living in a far-away land has its benefits. The society is stable. There are no extreme weather conditions or natural disasters to speak of (if you don’t count in sub-zero temperatures in winter).

Pytheas probably would have had a hard time imagining that far-away regions might someday play a central role in modern communications. In the olden times, all roads led to Rome.

Now, as data travels nearly at the speed of light, network cables are the lifeline of both business and personal communications. They give newfound importance to places which lay strategically between regions: just as Finland lies between Europe and Asia.

A recent example: the C-Lion 1 subsea cable connects Rostock in Germany and Helsinki in Finland with an extra fast and super low latency optic fiber cable. This makes our distant land a central hub for connections between Central Europe and the vast Asian and Russian markets.

It’s been estimated that 80 percent of all Internet traffic between Western Europe and Russia goes through Finland. Not a mean feat by any means! This proves that even small countries can have strategic significance in the modern world.

Silk road, version 2020

And this is just a start. Finland has now started to plan a new fast connection to Asia. The Arctic Connect project, also dubbed as “The Northern Silk Road”, would utilize the Northeast Passage. It’s a waterway that goes along the Arctic coast of Northern Russia, slips through the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, and reaches the teeming coastal metropolises of China and Japan.

The first confirmed complete crossing along the Northeast Passage was made by the famed Finnish explorer A.E. Nordenskiöld in the late 19th century. The proposed new subsea cable, if realized, would be a great addition to this northern heritage.

In its time, the Silk Road opened new political and economic relations between civilizations. The Northern Silk Road has every possibility to become a new avenue for digital business, communication, and art.

In two places at once

Even though optic cables are incredibly fast (e.g., less than 20 milliseconds in C-Lion1), there is still latency over distance. However, the recent announcement of Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX) will work magic in this area.

ECX Fabric connects Equinix data centers all over the world to create an interconnected fabric of extremely fast connections. The connections are both virtual and physical. They make it possible for a Finnish company to connect to their brand office in Singapore almost as if they were physically in the same building.

Need more convincing? You can now connect to the cloud provider of your choice directly, bypassing the congested public Internet altogether. For example, AWS’s Frankfurt region is available in Equinix’ interconnection exchange in Helsinki. You’ll have to provide the sauerkraut and bratwurst yourself, but otherwise, it’s like actually being in Germany.

Sounds nearly miraculous, but this is now a reality for Equinix’ customers. It’s as if you were in two places at once!

It’s been said that data cables and Internet connections are the new trade routes, and the data that travels in them is “the new oil.” Buzzwords come and go, but one thing remains constant: the need for people to be connected, practice business, and exchange ideas.

At Equinix, we think that there is no better way to do this than to be on board the best connectivity option in the world: the interconnected Equinix data centers.

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