Tata Communications network links London to global financial hubs

Indian supplier Tata Communications unveils an Ethernet platform to connect financial firms from city to city

Tata Communications has announced a network connecting financial institutions across some of the world’s biggest cities.

The network aims to offer low-latency connections to financial companies through a single network from one provider. The intention is to improve on the usual procedure of transferring data over multiple end-points and numerous providers to travel the globe.

However, to achieve low latency there often is a trade-off somewhere else. This often falls to security, as added encryption or other measures can slow down data transfer speeds.

This sacrifice is not an option for banks and other monetary organisation, so Tata has designed its own Ethernet standard to ensure data is safe but speeds remain high.

“The underlying technology we use – 802.1ah or provider backbone bridging [PBB] – adds security by encapsulating the entire customer frame,” John Hoffman, head of Ethernet product management at Tata, told Computer Weekly.

“All Ethernet technologies will encapsulate part of the frame but most technologies leave the customer Media Access Control information visible," Hoffman said. The Media Access Control (MAC) address acts as a unique identifier for network communications. 

"PBB does not use the customer MAC address and therefore it is encapsulated and ‘hidden’ while on our network.”

Hoffman claimed covering the MAC address made the process of snooping or tracking data much tougher for cyber criminals, increasing the network's security capabilities.

However, Hoffman said Tata offers extra protections if desired by companies using the network.

“If a customer wants a multipoint network, we provide a private sub-network on our network,” said Hoffman. 

“The customer frames are separated from other customer frames, providing extra security.”

The network focuses on financial hubs in Asia, the US and the UK, and is already operational in London. The first phase will link London with New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, with more to follow.

Hoffman wouldn’t give Computer Weekly exact details of pricing for UK customers, but said: “Low-latency networks command a premium in price in the market. As a result, a UK business wanting a low-latency network should expect to pay a premium over a standard network.”

However, Tata claimed it was still a much cheaper option than building a business-specific network, offering up to 35% on circuit and operational costs, and the company provides an enterprise SLA, enabling customers to track any latency on 24 hours a day.

The launch received the backing of Joel Stradling, principal analyst at Current Analysis, who said: “Tata Communications has been an aggressive early-mover in Ethernet and currently offers the largest multipoint-to-multipoint service network in the market.

“The combination of its strong global footprint, a broad portfolio of Ethernet choices, operational simplicity that helps to drive cost reductions and an unmatched PBB technology roll-out, makes the company’s new low latency offer compelling to prospects.”

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