Franck Simon, managing director of France-IX, recently spoke about the value of Marseilles as a point of presence (POP) for international interconnection and particular for online enterprises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia
France IX is a non-profit association aimed at improving peering in France, which has extended its operations to connect international entities. It is hosted in Marseilles by Interxion, one of the group's founding members. Interxion manages France-IX's first POP in Marseilles.
France-IX has 270 connected members, which include operators, email service providers, online media, cloud and hosting entities, content delivery networks (CDNs), large companies and e-commerce firms. 50 per cent of members are based in France, with 50 per cent based in Europe, America, the Middle East and Africa. According to Simon, cloud providers are particularly important, because of their commercial association with entities such as CDNs, to which they provide services. Performance data seen by Communications Africa/Afrique indicates that peaks in traffic at the Marseilles POP are attributed to CDNs.
Around 95 per cent of its members have an open peering policy, which means that any newly connected member can reach a certain level of traffic instantly by peering with the routes servers, without the need to negotiate a series of bilateral agreements. This is critical in terms of saving time and dismissing the possibility of technical issues affecting connectivity.
Services, access and Africa
Marseilles has acted as a POP since 2012. Between 2012 and 2014 15 members were connected - mostly, these were CDNs - before the first African peer joined in December 2014. By May 2015 there were 18 connected members running at 37Gbps peak traffic.
France-IX offers public and private peering, interconnection, network time protocol (NTP) synchronisation, routes servers, 24/7 network operations centre (NOC) services, and domain name system (DNS) services. Interestingly there is access to three DNS servers operated by Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération (AFNIC), the French Network Information Centre, which acts as the French Registry not only for the .fr (France) extension but also such domains as .re for Reunion Island and .yt for Mayotte. AFNIC is also positioned as a provider of technical solutions and services for registries and registrars. With respect to mainstream African enterprises, the prime African reseller in Marseilles is Seacom, a network service provider and ICT enabler established in 2007 to support Internet deployment in Africa.
The Marseilles POP has been competitive in terms of cost as well as because of its geographically strategic location. Prices have come down where possible. Simon said, "We aim to provide the best service for the best price."
There is significant potential for further growth in traffic and revenues from Africa, as entertainment and gaming segments gain significance. Simon said, "We see a growing demand from African operators, not only for content but also for gaming, and we expect this growth to continue."