2020 was a record-breaking year for us in terms of network growth, with substantial global growth of 30 new Points of Presence (PoPs) around the world. While Telia Carrier has been consistently ranked the number one backbone provider with more than 65 percent of Internet routes directly connected to our network, last year we added even more capacity and expanded our network footprint in Europe, North American and Mexico, much of this growth last year occurred in the United States.
Following the recent acceptance as a gold member by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), one of our goals for 2021 is to continue expanding across the U.S., connecting some of the local ISPs in more rural regions, providing additional diversity and capacity.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting everyone across the globe last year, including the immediate shift to working and schooling from home full-time, the demand for reliable Internet connectivity has grown exponentially, especially in rural areas of America. Many areas are still lacking in high-speed reliable Internet access, and according to the FCC, it is estimated that at least 6.3 million households in electric co-op service areas lack high-speed Internet access.
This lack of broadband access can lead to a loss of $68 billion over 20 years. Recognizing this, electric cooperatives of all sizes are building broadband communications to bridge the digital divide that exists between urban and rural populations. While Telia Carrier service doesn’t directly serve consumers, the groundwork we are laying provides a direct impact on network access, especially for rural areas. Paired with the evolution of 5G, Telia Carrier provides that last level of connectivity without a prohibitive financial investment.
Connecting America’s heartland
Our expanded presence allows Telia Carrier’s customers to take advantage of our 400G, 100G and 10G Wavelength services in addition to our number one ranked global backbone, AS1299, as well as the local availability of high-speed IP Transit, Cloud Connect, DDoS Mitigation, Ethernet and IPX services for operators, content providers and enterprises alike.
Feedback from our customers needing more diversity in routes between major markets, has driven a lot of our growth and expansion this past year. Our network diversity protects against interruptions in service, which is essential to customer experience in today’s competitive markets. Our continued expansion offers flexibility on several levels and lays the groundwork for future route investments in North America, particularly the rural regions. For example, last fall we expanded our network in the Midwest in what is commonly known as the Silicon Prairie region, adding a diverse route between Des Moines, IA; Omaha, NE and Kansas City, MO.
Some of the work we have done to help support the expansion into the heartland includes piecing together rural infrastructures to backhaul to bigger Internet hubs. We have one route that spans from Atlanta to Virginia and is composed of 13 different providers that were pieced together. Taking existing technology and piecing it together is a perfect example of the unique way we are working to connect America’s heartland.
What’s next for Telia Carrier in the US?
Our hope for the coming year in partnering with NRECA is to continue to provide our customers in rural areas with expanding access and a better customer experience. With our work and expansion in these regions, rural areas are gaining access to new technology; not just 20 plus year-old equipment that is being pushed to its limit.
When we say Telia Carrier is a new provider in the area, we are also providing new technology which lowers the cost of entry, creating a more cost-effective solution for co-ops as opposed to the larger incumbents in the area. One recent example of our success in this area is being the first to deploy 400ZR coherent connections between Cisco’s NCS 5700 and Cisco 8000 platforms over a third-party open line system. Pluggables and optical networking means a move away from closed, vendor-specific and product-specific management and control systems, which is a cost savings for us but also allows us to be more agile and deliver high-bandwidth services to our customers quicker.
As we look at our expansion in these areas it’s important to note, Telia Carrier isn’t coming into these areas via acquisitions; rather we are focused on organic growth with an emphasis on customer service and providing the backbone for these regions to get them up to speed. We are excited about our continued expansion and commitment to these areas for 2021, providing our customers with the number one Internet backbone.
Stephen Hartman, Head of Sales Americas