Floods threaten UK internet infrastructure

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Floods threaten UK internet infrastructure

Lumison, a UK-based ISP, has issued a warning on the implications of the current flooding crisis for the UK’s internet infrastructure and the industry's wider sensitivity to risks in the future.

With key internet peering points such as LINX all based in London and many smaller ISPs entirely reliant on a handful of neutral datacentre operators in the Docklands area of London, Lumison’s CEO, Aydin Kurt-Elli, is concerned that the UK may be sleepwalking into a national network disaster should the worst happen.

With the flooding incidents around the country in June and July and the ageing Thames barrier reaching the end of its shelf life, the ISP believes that a disaster scenario may not be as far fetched as it may seem.

"The potent combination of flood risk in the Thames gateway, potentially affecting London Docklands, and datacentre pricing rising by almost 300 percent in 18 months means that we need a fundamental rethink," said Kurt-Elli.

Kurt-Elli warned that, within London, it is well recognised that there is a significant network and hosting concentration in the Docklands area. All those megawatts of power, gigabits of fibre, and millions of square feet of datacentre space are currently protected from flooding by the Thames Barrier, which is reaching its capacity.

Although discussions are ongoing for a replacement or enhancement of the flood defences along the Thames, even well-designed flood defences can and are increasingly being breached under exceptional circumstances, Kurt-Elli said.

"There is no doubt that the costs of decentralising the UK internet infrastructure will be far outweighed by the implications of doing nothing," he added.

"We have to assume that a combination of commercial drivers and increasing awareness of the risks in the Docklands area will eventually result in decentralisation. With a move to the regions will come more competition, flatte ning of network costs across the UK, and most importantly, reduced risk and better service for internet users up and down the country,” he said.
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