Interconnection Bandwidth is Growing at the Edge

Learn what makes Madrid, Dublin and Dubai the three fastest-growing interconnection metros in the EMEA region

Sachin Sony
Interconnection Bandwidth is Growing at the Edge

As businesses continue their digital transformation initiatives across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), it’s leading to new and noteworthy growth patterns in some places you might not expect. Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris are well-established as the core metros of the EMEA digital corridor, but the places where real growth is happening are the edge metros like Madrid, Stockholm, Milan and Zurich.

That’s one of the key takeaways from the Global Interconnection Index Volume 5. This report offers data and insights on the growth of interconnection bandwidth across the globe, and how its direct correlation to digital transformation can help us better understand the future of digital infrastructure.

The time for a digital-first strategy is now.

The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) is the industry’s leading source of data and insight on interconnection and its increasing impact on the digital world.

Get The GXI Report!

According to the GXI, interconnection bandwidth capacity in EMEA core metros is expected to grow 45% CAGR by 2024; over the same period, EMEA edge metros are expected to grow 54% CAGR. Edge locations are growing interconnection bandwidth faster than core metros because service providers and their enterprise customers are recognizing the importance of localizing applications and maintaining regional compliance.

Advanced use cases are emerging where even a few milliseconds of latency can make the difference between success and failure. The only way to ensure the ultra-low latency these use cases require is deploying them proximate to both digital infrastructure and end users. It’s no longer viable to move traffic back and forth to core metros that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the end user.

In this post, we’ll dive deeper to examine what’s driving interconnection bandwidth growth in the three fastest-growing EMEA edge metros according to the GXI: Madrid, Dublin and Dubai.

Madrid emerges as a strategic gateway for subsea cables

Occupying a key position at the nexus of southern Europe and Africa, Spain also serves as a logical jumping-off point for connections between Europe and the Americas. This is one reason Spain’s capital city has emerged as a frequent landing point for subsea cables connecting the different continents. For example, the EllaLink cable—which directly connects Europe and Latin America for the first time, enabling transatlantic roundtrip delay of less than 60 ms—will have a PoP at an Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Madrid.

With so many different subsea cables landing in Madrid, the metro has emerged as a hotspot for data aggregation. This has led many global enterprises to deploy edge nodes in the area by colocating in highly interconnected data centers like those offered by Equinix, eager to minimize the distance of data transfer for their applications.

Cloud and network operators have responded to the growing enterprise presence in Madrid by deploying their services in the area as well. They do this to gain proximity to potential customers for IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings, so that they can provide those services without requiring latency-intensive backhauls to core locations.

The Madrid metro area also features a population of 6.7 million[i], making it one of the largest bases of potential end users in the European Union. Combine all this with thriving professional services and energy and utilities sectors, and it’s no wonder the GXI predicts interconnection bandwidth capacity in Madrid will grow 56% CAGR by 2024.

Dublin is a growing hub for global enterprises

During the upheaval created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ireland—and Dublin in particular—emerged as a rare economic bright spot in Europe. Multinational companies grew their presence in Ireland 18.2% in 2020, lured primarily by low corporate taxes and other business-friendly policies.[ii]

Among those setting up shop in Ireland are big tech companies like Facebook and Google and pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Merck. Many of these newcomers rely on use cases that require access to low-latency “on-ramps” to cloud services from a strong digital edge infrastructure. For instance, companies looking to tap into Dublin’s booming manufacturing sector can deploy smart manufacturing solutions. Sensors in smart manufacturing facilities create massive amounts of data, and an ecosystem has sprung up in Dublin to help transfer, process and store that data.

Enterprises now have the flexibility to store data locally, exchange other data with ecosystem partners in near real-time, and only backhaul the data that absolutely must go to core metros. The result is lower latency, helping enterprises apply data-driven insights quickly.

Dubai is a connection point between the Middle East with the world

With 83% of the Middle East’s internet bandwidth still being routed through Europe[iii], the challenges of latency are even greater in Dubai than they are in other EMEA edge metros. Enterprises have recognized that if they want access to customers and partners in this dynamic region, they need to build out their edge infrastructure locally. Dubai is emerging as one of the most popular places for them to do that. Like Madrid, Dubai is an important landing site for subsea cables, connecting to Europe, other parts of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and Asian metros such as Singapore.

The history of Dubai is defined by meteoric growth, going from a small port town to a massive global metropolis in a matter of a few decades. Interconnection bandwidth capacity in Dubai seems to be poised for similar levels of growth. In fact, interconnection in Dubai is predicted to grow 60% CAGR by 2024—the highest growth rate of any metro included in the GXI.

Learn how digital leaders are connecting across the globe

Madrid, Dublin and Dubai are just a few examples of metros where interconnection bandwidth is growing as enterprises and service providers look to deploy digital infrastructure at the edge. There are many other metros experiencing similar kinds of growth, in EMEA and across the globe. For a closer look at what’s driving that growth, and what it means for the future of digital business, read the GXI today.


[i] Madrid Population 2021

[ii] Wall Street Journal, “This Economy Grew Faster Than China’s Thanks to Big Tech, Pharma”.

[iii] TeleGeography, Global Internet Geography Regional Analysis: Middle East, 2021. [Gated]

Subscribe to the Equinix Blog