Connectivity, complexity, and cables: Bridging APAC’s digital divide

man connecting cables

Connectivity, complexity, and cables: Bridging APAC’s digital divide

Asia Pacific is one of the world’s fastest growing regions for internet users, growing at an estimated 8% per year.

This speed in take-up (the global average is 7%) is only matched by its diversity of reach across countries. Reports estimate by the end of last year, over half the world’s online population would be APAC residents.

Naturally, countries with the widest internet coverage will see the strongest growth. Japan appears to lead the way, with 93% of its population said to be internet users. Hong Kong isn’t far behind (88%), with Australia (87%) and Singapore (83%) a few places further back.

Singapore is also making headlines because of its high investment in artificial intelligence. The city-state accounts for over three-quarters (77%) of all AI patent applications from the Southeast Asian nations.

What’s more, these trends only tell part of the story.

Why demand is rising

Mobile is driving much of the growth. In Singapore, almost four-in-five (78%) of internet traffic is through mobile. For the region as a whole, the majority (57.2%) will access the internet from their mobile device.

Throw in the rapidly accelerating take-up of social media (18 users a second), and it’s plain to see that demand shows no sign of slowing down.

To further augment connectivity, the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway has been set up. This initiative aims to ‘increase the availability and affordability of broadband Internet across Asia and the Pacific, by strengthening the underlying Internet infrastructure in the region.’

These trends all point to APAC facing major challenges when it comes to capitalising on next-generation technology. Let’s not forget that alongside the increased demand for data, the region is counting down to the launch of 5G. Commercial deployments are scheduled for 2020 in countries including Japan. There’s also the rise in IoT to consider, with 36% of businesses using connected devices

Data centre managers must therefore adapt their IT and networking strategies. This can include deployment of improved optics, faster lane speeds, and advantages including colocation and interconnectivity.

How the data centre industry is responding

The likes of Google are responding with new infrastructure investments. The internet search leader is connecting Hong Kong Australia and Singapore via its Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) Cable System. The subsea cable is the latest in a long line of cable investments, including Indigo, PLCBN, and FASTER.

More cable investment comes from Colt. In late-2017, the network and voice services provider announced plans to upgrade availability of its network to 100GBPs. This is to support Digital Realty, a DigitalCentre2020 Steering Committee founding member, a major provider of bandwidth to APAC businesses.

“We are excited to support Digital Realty’s strategy of providing high-bandwidth solutions to its customers in Singapore and across the Asia Pacific region,” said Warren Aw, Director of Sales at Colt Technology Services.  “With IP traffic in the region set to grow three-fold to 67.8 exabytes per month, we are pleased to add a world-class provider to our data centre network.”.

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Connectivity, complexity, and cables: Bridging APAC’s digital divide