May 2024 - Interconnection | Digital Infrastructure

Lisbon – A Formidable Point of Convergence and Emerging Interconnection Hub

Ivo Ivanov, CEO of DE-CIX, talks in interview about the newly-published study of Lisbon as an interconnection hub and how the pan-Atlantic infrastructure community will be assembled to build trust in this growing digital landscape.

Interview with Ivo Ivanov on Atlantic Convergence-web

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dotmagazine: Ivo, DE-CIX has just released a paper on the interconnection landscape in Portugal, and you’re the initiator and one of the founders of a new conference, Atlantic Convergence, to be held in Lisbon from the 1st to the 3rd of October this year. Can you start off by telling us why there is such a strong focus on Lisbon currently?

Ivo Ivanov: Lisbon is not just a beautiful city – in terms of the global Internet, it has so much to offer! I’m really excited about the findings of our latest paper, “Portugal: a global interconnection hub, a gateway to Europe, a gateway to the world,” penned by the interconnection specialists Paul Rendek and Serge Radovcic from DStream Group. The paper shows us that Portugal has developed very strongly over the last eight years, and now stands as a nexus point for global and pan-Atlantic data flows. The city is perfectly positioned to offer the lowest latencies between the Atlantic continents, with the overall shortest distances “as the crow flies” between key Atlantic population centers and beyond to Asia.

Portugal is home to 33 data centers, including one of the largest data center campuses in the world, in Covilhã. It also has one of the highest penetrations of fiber to the home/building (FTTH/B) in Europe. Lisbon itself is today home to three Internet Exchanges (IXs) and 20 data centers. We see a vibrant and diverse ecosystem of international and national networks, with strong terrestrial connectivity to neighboring countries within Europe, as well as excellent sub-sea cable connectivity to other countries on the shores of the Atlantic. Lisbon is a formidable point of convergence for all continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

dot: So this is where the name “Atlantic Convergence” comes from?

Ivo: Yes, exactly – Lisbon connects the other Atlantic continents to Europe at the lowest latency. It’s no longer just about connecting Europe and North America – it’s about ensuring the best connectivity to Africa and South America as well.

And speaking of sub-sea cables: It is forecast that submarine cable initiatives landing in Portugal will extend to 115 cable landing stations CSLs worldwide by 2026, establishing direct cable connections with no fewer than 60 countries across five continents and extending as far as Australia. In particular, the submarine cable EllaLink, commissioned in 2021, is the only cable linking South America directly with Europe, landing in Fortaleza (Brazil) and Cayenne (French Guiana) Casablanca (Morocco), and Lisbon. This will transform traffic flows, allowing southbound content to remain in the south, rather than needing to travel north and then all the way back down again.

What’s more, Portugal’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), covering over 1.7 million square kilometers and including the Azores and Madeira, is the EU’s largest and the 10th largest globally. With its vast expanse and a high concentration of submarine cables, somewhere between 10 percent to 15 percent of all global cables traverse this region. But what sets Portugal apart even more distinctly is that the four main international CSLs and Portugal’s three main IXs in Lisbon are all within a radius of just 100 kilometers, creating a uniquely concentrated and interconnected network infrastructure.

Lisbon is, in short, a new interconnection hub that enables efficient data flows between the Americas, Africa, and Europe, and beyond to Asia. And we will see increasing Transatlantic and even pan-Atlantic business opportunities emerging on the basis of this, which is part of the motivation behind the new event format, Atlantic Convergence.

dot: With DE-CIX, you’ve been active in Lisbon and elsewhere on the Iberian Peninsula for some time now. How’s that going?

Ivo: Yes, we have, and we can see the potential for Southern Europe to become as strong as Europe’s traditional FLAPS markets (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Stockholm) in terms of interconnection. We’ve seen enormous growth in the region, with DE-CIX Madrid long since becoming the largest IX in Southern Europe. DE-CIX Madrid is interconnected with our other IXs in Southern Europe: in Lisbon, Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France), and Palermo (Italy). Together these form the largest carrier and data center neutral interconnection ecosystem in Southern Europe.

I’m proud to say that, just this year, DE-CIX Lisbon, the youngest IX in the city, has achieved the No. 1 position as the largest IX by network count in Portugal, bringing international networks to the country to interconnect and exchange data traffic with local Portuguese and European networks. But it’s not all just about how our IXs grow. What we see is that the entire ecosystem grows with us – the networks, the data centers, even the other IXs. In Lisbon, DE-CIX Lisbon and the other strong IX, GigaPIX Lisbon, operate in a kind of complementarity, with DE-CIX serving a majority of international networks, while GigaPIX caters to the local Portuguese networks very effectively. And this is something we see very often: That a distributed data center and carrier neutral IX can act as a booster for growth, providing a complementary offer on the market and benefiting all parties involved.

dot: Finally, Ivo, before we finish, can you tell us a bit about the Atlantic Convergence event and conference?

Ivo: Sure! DE-CIX will be hosting the first edition of Atlantic Convergence in Lisbon on 1st- 3rd October 2024, together with the other founders, Altice Wholesale Solutions, Atlas Edge, EllaLink, and Interfiber. The conference, taking place in the historic Pátio da Galé in Lisbon, will bring together visionaries, knowledge owners, power users, and the architects of digital infrastructure on both sides of the Atlantic. In this unique forum for businesses, institutions, and providers, participants from all around the Atlantic Ocean will come together to craft a shared and connected future. It’s the place to be for multi-national enterprises, for data center, submarine cable, and LEO Satellite operators, for cloud service providers, OTTs, and Internet Exchange operators.

Among others, the topics include:

  • How will we enhance the speed, cut costs, and minimize the latency of connectivity across the Atlantic?
  • How can Europe and North America improve connectivity with regions such as Latin America and Africa?
  • How well can the existing infrastructure withstand cyber-attacks?
  • What are the digital drivers of the pan-Atlantic economy, and what about new AI and cloud tech needs?
  • Can the current undersea, terrestrial, and space infrastructure support new demand?
  • Which new data corridors are emerging across the Atlantic?

To put it in a nutshell, Lisbon is a fantastic city and an interconnection hub connecting the Atlantic and enabling new pan-Atlantic business opportunities. And the Atlantic Convergence conference and event will be a great place to discuss and foster collaboration to make these opportunities a reality!

dot: Thank you for your time, Ivo.


Ivo Ivanov has been Chief Executive Officer at DE-CIX and Chair of the Board of the DE-CIX Group AG since 2022. Prior to this, Ivanov was Chief Operating Officer of DE-CIX and Chief Executive Officer of DE-CIX International, responsible for the global business activities of the leading Internet Exchange operator in the world. He has more than 20 years of experience in the regulatory, legal and commercial Internet environment. Ranked as one of the top 100 most influential professionals of the Telecom industry (Capacity Magazine’s Power 100 listing, 2021/2022), Ivo is regularly invited to share his vision and thought leadership in various industry-leading conferences around the globe.