Level 3 Upgrades London/Frankfurt for Low Latency

July 6th, 2010 by · 3 Comments

Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) has revamped the European leg of its offering to the low latency segment of the financial vertical.  They have rebuilt the route between London and Frankfurt, significantly reducing latency introduced along the way.  Lower latency on London-Frankfurt obviously also improves the Frankfurt-NYC and Frankfurt-Chicago offerings as well.    They are also offering grades of performance in Europe:  Premier and Advanced.  I always find the names for such service levels somewhat amusing (from any provider), there’s never a ‘slow’, just different words for fast.  It’s like grade inflation for telecommunications – everyone gets an A or B.   Ah well, it’s not like it matters – the important thing is the opportunity to sell non-commoditized bandwidth, and that’s still a bit of a new thing tho the sector.

This move follows a similar upgrade back in April, when Level 3 upgraded its NYC/Chicago low latency offerings.  The company has benefited as much as if not more than any other fiber provider from the surging interest in high speed connectivity from the financial vertical, mainly because it has perhaps the largest selection of modern longhaul between and metro fiber wihin the four markets of New York, Chicago, London, and Frankfurt.  Thus they have far more options which remain under their control end to end.  The windfall hasn’t been enough yet to fully offset the company’s other troubles over the last year or so, but they’d certainly be rather worse off without it.

As the crow flies, Frankfurt is some 394 miles from London, but the routes aren’t generally so direct.  In Europe, Level 3 didn’t acquire lots of other fiber builds, and therefore has mainly its original build to work with, which makes the trip via either Amsterdam or Paris – both being a detour of sorts.  But if you look at their network map, there is a route that passes through Brussels and Luxembourg which appears to be shortest.  That’s not the original Level 3 build, and I’m not sure whether they have fiber there or just wavelengths.  So I’m curious if as part of this upgrade they have brought this Luxembourg route into the mix…  Or is this just specialized equipment plus the pruning of unnecessary loops on the other routes?  Anyone know?

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Categories: Internet Backbones · Low Latency

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3 Comments So Far

  • HM says:

    Why so coy on the numbers – it would be interesting to see the expected and SLA numbers quoted.

  • Frank A. Coluccio says:

    (oops, I sent this message to the wrong thread earlier 😉

    See my earlier comment on this subject here:

    Latency can not only be optimized through intentioal means, but it can also be degraded intentionally, as well. In an earlier time, as a means of placating some customers’ desires for dark fiber, a bit rate limiter was conceived that limited bit rates to no more than a nominal 200 Mbps over a dark fiber by artificially introducing optical dispersion on a selective basis. Higher bit rates demanded more moolah.

    [The idea was subsequently scrubbed; I suspect it never gained traction due to meeting up with ridicule in the market place, but I’m not entirely sure what happened there. There’s an interesting side note to this story, if anyone is interested.]

    It’s not entirely inconceivable to me that some industry players could devise a similarly dumb method of differentiating latency through similar means. The measure discussed in the top post of this thread represents, IMO, a first step in the direction of which I speak.



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