By Fabrice Coquio, Managing Director of Interxion France

In  today’s  digital world,  physical location  is still critically  important for the creation  and distribution of digital content. One French city is a classic example.  

As  the largest  port city in  France, Marseille  is easy to picture  as a transportation hub.  For centuries, Marseille has  enjoyed success in the transport  of goods, linking Europe to the rest  of the world; now, the city’s geographic  proximity to not only the Middle East and  Africa, but also China, India and Southeast Asia   are playing a strategic role in the transportation of  the world’s data.

Marseille  has, for many  years, been the  landing point for  submarine cables carrying  data between continents all  over the world. The city’s unique  geographical advantage provided cable  consortiums with a transit hub for traffic  between Europe and the Middle East, Africa and  Asia. Besides being a conversion point for subsea  traffic, the city also benefited from terrestrial links  back to the FLAP (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris),  the traditional innovation centers of Europe.

As  if the  data converging  from three continents  weren’t enough, the staggering  demand for content from these regions  has created a perfect storm resulting in  Marseille becoming the fastest growing market  in Europe, in terms of international bandwidth  shifting the city from a peering and transit hub  to a content creation and distribution destination.   

Over  the past  decade, the  demand for digital  content has exploded—especially  in the emerging markets of the  Middle East, Asia and Africa. In  Africa, mobile video consumption doubled  between 2015 and 2016. In the Middle East,  70percent of people consume video through their  phones at least once a week and Asia is seeing  strong demand for gaming and sports-related content.    

Capitalizing  on this opportunity  has become a priority  for many international organizations,  which hope to find new revenue streams  from the roughly 4.5 billion people spread  across these regions. The underlying IT infrastructure  investment needed to support the delivery of this content  is of the utmost importance, and IT teams tasked with ensuring  optimum performance for content delivery have found an ally in Marseille.  

In  a recent  451 research  survey of US based  IT decision makers, 32percent  of respondents identified access  to Africa, Asia and the Middle East  as a top driver in deciding where to  place their IT infrastructure in Europe.    

Those  paying attention  have noticed an influx  of big cloud and content  players to the city. To optimize  performance for their end users, these  players are creating, processing, and distributing  content from Marseille, transforming the city from a  transit hub to a content hub – and elevating its importance  in the digital economy.

International  businesses are  following suit, realizing  they don’t need to place infrastructure  in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to adequately  serve these regions. Through Marseille, businesses can  get low latency access to these emerging markets without  encountering many of the financial or geopolitical risks associated  with placing infrastructure there.

Because  of this acceleration  of different segments landing  in the city, Marseille data centers  have become production plants where companies  of all kinds use each other to produce, deliver  and release content. It’s like a fabric of extended  networks and services – which will make the location even  more of a key hub in the coming years.

Need  further  proof that  Marseille is  a data hotspot?  Just look at these  statistics:

  • In  just  the last  four years,  latency has been  halved to many parts  of the Middle East and  Asia—meaning more content can  be pushed out from Marseille, and  services can be delivered to more users  in more places than ever before.
  • A  total  of 43 countries  are directly connected  to Marseille today, with  three more cables expected  to land there next year.
  • By  2019,  the city  will be connected  with more than 300  terabytes of capacity,  opening up even more opportunities  for digital transformation and innovation.    

This  increase  in capacity  and reduction  in latency and  cost, coupled with  new technologies and  changing consumer behavior  in emerging markets, has made  Marseille an incredibly attractive  colocation hub for numerous companies.

Boosting  Marseille’s  attractiveness  even further is  the shift to 5G.  Most data traffic in  regions like Africa and  the Middle East now goes  through mobile devices. When  5G starts rolling out, countries  like Sri Lanka and Kenya will see  huge advances in how they access content  and services—and their demand for content and  connectivity will blow up. In as soon as five  years, the majority of all data traffic to these  regions will likely come through Marseille.

In  the Middle  East and Africa,  the digital revolution  is just beginning. New advances  in connectivity and digital content  are opening up a whole new world of  opportunity in these emerging markets. And  businesses looking to get in on the action  won’t be able to ignore the international content  hub of Marseille.


About the Author:

Fabrice Coquio became Managing Director of Interxion France when the subsidiary opened in October 1999, and since 2011 has been President of Interxion France SAS. He began his career in 1987 at Anatel as Director of Marketing and Sales. Then he joined Sagem in 1988 where he was Sales Manager for Africa, and Export Manager for Europe and Asia, before being appointed head of the UK subsidiary which he launched in 1996. Fabrice holds a Master’s degree in Business Law and Tax Law, and graduated from ESLSCA (Ecole Supérieure Libre des Sciences Commerciales Appliquées).