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Scotland considering independent internet hub to reduce latency

Antony Savvas | Feb. 26, 2013
A hub in Scotland would make the UK's critical infrastructure more secure

Scotland is set to get its own hub on the world's main internet network which should see local network traffic delays - or latency - reduced across Scotland.

A conference to plan for the "regional peering" will take place at Edinburgh Conference Centre at Herriot Watt University on 27 March. The event is backed by the London Internet Exchange (LINX) - where Scotland's internet traffic goes through at the moment.

LINX said: "The purpose of the event is to gauge interest of existing LINX members, as well as those not already peering in either London or Manchester, in establishing a peering point or points in Scotland.

"LINX launched its first regional peering point in Manchester and is planning to establish more in a number of other regions where there is significant internet traffic."

Having a main network hub in Scotland wouldn't necessarily increase basic data download speeds for Scottish web users, as those speeds are usually down to their individual network provider, such as Virgin Media, BT and Talk Talk. But latency or "jitter" would be reduced on apps such as video, video conferencing, voice over IP and online gaming, if everything wasn't routed through London.

John Souter, chief executive of Linx, told The Scotsman newspaper: "The biggest difference users will see is in terms of what is called 'latency' - the time lapse which can cause gaps - like a pause in conversation. The less distance information has to travel the less problem there is with latency.

"This is very important to games players, where low latency is critical, as well as Skype and other voice services and anything where there are transactions such as banking services."

As with establishing a main internet hub in Manchester, having one in Scotland would also make the UK's critical infrastructure more secure. If there was a problem in London - either technical or terrorist-related - the UK would not be cut off from the world's internet network for long, as traffic could instead be routed through Scotland.


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