The Internet Layer Cake

The Internet Layer Cake

The Internet Layer Cake

With the announcement that Airfibre is adding an INEX peering point to its Cork exchange I got to thinking that the majority of Airfibre’s customers may well ask “So What?”.


Whilst the benefits to Airfibre as with any Telco are obvious (more efficient utilisation of the backbone network and blisteringly fast performance for Cork customers on a par to those in Dublin), I am minded to believe that the majority of end user business customers would not necessarily understand why they should share the enthusiasm.


When comparing apples with pears in the Internet world the core is little understood. How does a Tier 1 provider compare with a Tier 2 network operator? Few might appreciate that Airfibre, Eir, etc, fall into the Tier 2 category whilst the Tier 1 operators include relatively unknown entities such as Level3, Global Crossing, Cogent, etc.


Tier 1 operators provide International/Intercontinental connectivity that fundamentally supports the WORLD WIDE WEB. Tier 1 operators sell services to Tier 2 operators, which in turn provide end user services and connectivity for Tier 3 ISPs, the latter largely focused upon providing boutique domestic services.


As a Tier 2 operator, Airfibre benefits from circumventing Tier 1 connectivity by going direct to source without traversing complex International networks and peering points.


To this end another group of service providers enter the stage. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) exist to provide direct peering between major cloud providers, ISPs, data centres, etc.


In Ireland, the premier IXP is INEX (Internet Neutral EXchange –, which supports infrastructure in various key data centres throughout Dublin as well as CIX ( in Cork, the latter arguably the country’s most important data centre outside Dublin.


As a member of INEX, Airfibre is able to connect its customers directly to key strategic cloud services without crossing third party networks.


Direct connection means FASTER connectivity.


Working at home on a superfast, inter-galactic, hyper-fibre, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious broadband circuit you will typically realise a round trip delay of 20msecs+ when pinging Google DNS for example.


With an entry level Airfibre business leased line you will experience <5msecs. A performance that is in part possible because of INEX. (Generic wireless broadband suppliers will be happy with <100msecs.)


“So what?” I am minded to state once more!


From a business perspective, this is important, especially when operating latency sensitive applications such as IP Telephony/Video and when working in the cloud, where the user experience is determined by the efficiency (not the amount of bandwidth provided) of the network in delivering remote data to the screen.


In a nutshell, as organisations move evermore towards the cloud and seek to support increased remote working with video/voice services, business IT network operators have to understand that there is more to deploying a mission critical network than superfluous headline bandwidth figures that are quoted (more often than not mis-leadingly).


As we transition to this different way of working (one that has been massively accelerated with the damn virus) multiple aspects of measuring Internet service performance will need to be understood if the end user experience is to be optimal.


We would all do well to consider Dead Martin’s wisdom from beyond the grave – Airfibre does!


All Airfibre customers have direct mobile numbers and email addresses for any staff member (including directors) they require. We investigate any instance of poor response through the ‘manned’ switchboard (seldom happens) and encourage customers to call/email direct if they have issues.


It is not a perfect world, but we refuse to make matters worse by hiding behind machines.