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SGIX Singapore Public Internet Exchange

Faster surfing speed by next month? No, I am not referring to the much publicized NBN(Next Gen Nationwide Broadband Network). I am talking about the little known Singapore Public Internet Exchange – SGIX, which I found out from yesterday’s Digital Life.

Digital Life, The Straits Times 7 Apr 2010

In my opinion, the SGIX is a critically important public infrastructure for Singapore. We have been relying on the carrier-specific Singtel Internet Exchange for too long.

Why STIX Singtel Internet Exchange Not Good Enough

SingTel STIX

The problem with STIX is, if you have a server at a data center in Singapore which is not connected to STIX, the traffic will have to be routed to Internet exchanges in Hong Kong(HKIX ) or in Japan(JPIX) or California(Palo Alto Internet Exchange and Los Angeles Equinix Internet Exchange) before coming back to Singapore.

And if you are wondering why Singtel is not peering with other carriers, you might want to read this report: The Singapore Internet Peering Ecosystem

“The broadband eyeballs in Singapore are owned by SingTel and StarHub (which acquired the CableVision Cable-based Internet subscribers). There is no incentive for either of these two Tier 1 ISPs to peer freely.”

Typically, ping to a local server within Singapore is 30ms or less. But a ping will take 100ms or longer if it has to be routed to the nearest public Internet exchange in Hong Kong before coming back to Singapore.

I have been hosting some of my websites on a Rackspace Cloud Server which is located in USA. Average ping to this server is about 300ms, because of the ping latency, I wished I could use a cloud hosting based Singapore.

Last month, I bought a Voxel’s Cloud Server located in Singapore. Voxel servers are housed at Equinix Data Center at Ayer Rajah. I was expecting to connect “directly” to the local server.

But I was wrong.

After 3 days of persistent testing and submitting support tickets to Voxel, I was using SingNet broadband, I was still accessing my local sever at Ayer Rajah via Los Angeles!!! Here’s the traceroute:


traceroute to 180.92.186.210 (180.92.186.210), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
1 192.168.1.254 (192.168.1.254) 5.650 ms 1.605 ms 2.164 ms
2 bb116-14-180-1.singnet.com.sg (116.14.180.1) 19.484 ms 18.894 ms 19.589 ms
3 202.166.121.41 (202.166.121.41) 19.653 ms 18.720 ms 19.741 ms
4 ge-3-0-0-3700.stella.singnt.com.sg (202.166.124.105) 19.378 ms 20.582 ms 19.684 ms
5 xe-0-0-0.singha.singnet.com.sg (202.166.120.13) 19.616 ms 19.120 ms 19.390 ms
6 ae5-0.beck.singnet.com.sg (202.166.126.41) 19.641 ms 18.838 ms 70.760 ms
7 203.208.190.129 (203.208.190.129) 21.733 ms 21.561 ms 31.448 ms
8 xe-1-0-0-0.sngc3-cr1.ix.singtel.com (203.208.183.33) 19.756 ms 19.772 ms 19.535 ms
9 so-2-0-3-0.laxow-cr1.ix.singtel.com (203.208.149.238) 210.768 ms 208.521 ms
so-2-0-1-0.laxow-cr1.ix.singtel.com (203.208.151.114) 309.686 ms
10 ge-6-1-0-0.laxow-dr1.ix.singtel.com (203.208.183.138) 211.167 ms 205.021 ms 209.122 ms
11 ge9-10.br01.lax05.pccwbtn.net (63.218.73.101) 212.366 ms
ge9-11.br01.lax05.pccwbtn.net (63.218.73.105) 200.025 ms
ge9-10.br01.lax05.pccwbtn.net (63.218.73.101) 199.733 ms
12 voxel.ge9-24.br01.sin02.pccwbtn.net (63.218.229.14) 199.791 ms 196.239 ms 197.176 ms
13 21.te1-5.csr1.sin1.sg.voxel.net (72.26.220.18) 195.152 ms 195.408 ms 199.024 ms
14 180.92.186.210 (180.92.186.210) 203.120 ms 201.936 ms 200.206 ms

Taken For A Ride Half Way Around The World

As you can see, SingNet sent me half way around the world before connecting me from Tampines to Ayer Rajah.

And a ping to the local server via this route took about 200ms, that’s nearly 7 times longer than I expected. Apparently, Voxel which uses PCCW network did not peer to STIX.

There is nothing that I can do but terminate the Voxel Singapore server because I am already using 2 different data centers in California, USA. It’s not Voxel’s fault, which is already a member of SGIX. It’s just that our public Internet exchange is not ready yet and has to rely on STIX’s peering.

Hopefully, with the launch of the 2 new nodes, at 1-Net and Global Switch Singapore, surfing to local servers will be faster and I can use any data center in Singapore without worrying of being taken for a ride. Otherwise, even if we have the NBN, accessing local websites will mean wasting time via Hong Kong Internet exchange or worse, like my case, via Los Angeles!

Here’s the list of the 14 SGIX members (as of 8 Apr 2010):

  1. 1-Net Singapore Pte. Ltd.
  2. Deutsche Telekom Asia Pte. Ltd.
  3. France Telecom Long Distance (S) Pte. Ltd.
  4. Infocomm Asia Holdings Pte. Ltd.
  5. LGA Telecom Pte. Ltd.
  6. MobileOne Ltd.
  7. New MediaExpress Pte. Ltd.
  8. Nucleus Connect Pte. Ltd.
  9. PacNet Internet (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
  10. Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network (SingAREN)
  11. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.
  12. Starhub Ltd.
  13. Tata Communications International Pte. Ltd.
  14. Voxel Inc

More information(PDF download): IDA’s Media Fact Sheet on SGIX

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Adam 8 Apr 2010, 10:28 pm

    Greetings,

    Excellent post!

    StarHub and SingTel, Singapore’s two main “eyeball” (access) providers, are actually well-clued to the peering game. I’d imagine your traceroute was run last month in the midst of the earthquake, when traffic was *temporarily* re-routed due to capacity constraints. In contrast, here’s a trace run today, from a cloud server in our Singapore datacenter, 180.92.184.2:

    1 v100.csr1.sin1.sg.voxel.net (72.26.221.1) 0.538 ms 0.575 ms 0.606 ms
    2 21.te1-2.tsr1.sin1.sg.voxel.net (72.26.220.17) 0.180 ms 0.213 ms 0.243 ms
    3 ge9-24.br01.sin02.pccwbtn.net (63.218.229.13) 0.524 ms 0.576 ms 0.635 ms
    4 203.116.89.133 (203.116.89.133) 1.470 ms 1.507 ms 1.561 ms
    5 165.21.45.93 (165.21.45.93) 33.958 ms 33.969 ms 33.958 ms
    6 202.166.126.113 (202.166.126.113) 34.699 ms 34.682 ms 34.643 ms
    7 202.166.126.122 (202.166.126.122) 84.547 ms 84.593 ms 84.770 ms
    8 xe-11-3-0.singha.singnet.com.sg (202.166.120.186) 33.617 ms 33.654 ms 33.644 ms
    9 xe-1-0-0.stella.singnet.com.sg (202.166.120.14) 34.449 ms 34.333 ms 34.450 ms
    10 202.166.124.106 (202.166.124.106) 83.823 ms 84.490 ms 84.409 ms
    11 bb116-14-180-1.singnet.com.sg (116.14.180.1) 35.538 ms 35.241 ms 35.794 ms

    (This should have been communicated to you at the time, I’m curious if it might not have been…)

    All the same, your point is a valid one. NTT won’t peer with PCCW in Japan, and PCCW won’t peer with NTT in Hong Kong, so the two networks settled on San Jose as a common meeting ground. China Telecom will peer in Asia, technically speaking, though is continually a source of congestion and/or “interesting” routing. Many European carriers built into Singapore and neighboring countries to service existing customers with international presences, remaining unfamiliar with the local ecosystem, and disinterested in interconnecting or even budgeting for sufficient backbone redundancy back home. The list goes on…

    The SGIX is comprised of a great team, genuinely interested in making the Internet a better place; we have high hopes for its adoption. At the same time, it’s important to realize that considerable infrastructure for interconnection exists today. One need only look to the Equinix exchanges in Singapore and Hong Kong, the HK-IX in Hong Kong, and countless private cross-connects in the Equinix and Mega-I facilities, for success stories.

    The problem today are the carriers who view peering inside Asia as enabling would-be competitors, not working together towards the common goal of servicing customers. This is solved with a free marketplace, open access to affordable “local loops” (while I don’t view the Singaporean providers as the problem, the NBN is itself fascinating; I’d love to see widely-available, tariffed, Metro Ethernet point-to-points here in the US :-), and ultimately customers voting with their wallets.

    In any event, I’m leaving you my e-mail address with my post. Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you wish to re-run your tests and/or discuss things further. Alternately, I’d be happy to introduce you to our up-and-coming Singapore sales team, who I’m sure would love to buy you some dinner and talk shop. 🙂

    Regards,
    -Adam Rothschild (Vice President, Network, Voxel dot Net)

    • Shi Heng Cheong 9 Apr 2010, 9:22 pm

      Hi Adam,

      Yes, I was told the earthquake caused the re-routing. But at that time, I couldn’t understand why the re-routing because I expected the traffic to be within Singapore since the server is located in Singapore. I was not aware of all the competitions among the carriers.

      Thank you for your in-depth explanation.

  • Raj Dutt 7 Jun 2010, 4:53 pm

    Hi Shi,

    I wanted to reiterate what Adam said and thank you for the excellent post.

    Since then, we have attempted to work around much of the problems we’ve seen with Asian networks and to that end even turned up a peering session with SingTel in Hong Kong.

    We are hopeful about SGIX — but unfortunately there hasn’t been too much movement on it yet.

    I was curious if you notice any difference in connectivity now?

    Hope all is well.

    Best.,

    Raj Dutt
    founder/CEO
    Voxel dot Net Inc.

    • Shi Heng Cheong 16 Jun 2010, 11:24 am

      Hi Raj,

      Yes. The connectivity to Voxel Singapore has definitely improved.

      SGIX is progressing too slow. Hopefully, IDA could put more resources into this project. I will be visiting SGIX booth at CommunicAsia 2010 to find out what’s the latest development.

  • Alan Woo 10 Aug 2010, 8:50 am

    Hi Shi,

    Agreed with your comments that SGIX is progressing too slow, but we are on our way.

    Here is the update of our status.
    http://sgix.sg/en/?page_id=10

  • Alec 2 Sep 2010, 11:25 am

    Wow, thank you for posting this!! I was about to purchase a vox cloud server cuz my rackspace cloud just runs so slow especially with .net applications.

    May I know what about Malaysian servers? I am looking for a direct or real fast access to web server which host web applications in ASP.NET and MSSQL. Any recommendation?

  • Shi Heng Cheong 15 Feb 2011, 10:00 pm

    The latest list of members whom I believe are paying members looks quite different from the previous list of the 14 “committed members”.


    Source: http://sgix.sg/en/memberslist/list-of-members/

    Why many of the big names disappeared? What happened?

    Big players abandonment of the SGIX project and the not so stellar residential take-up rate to wire up the homes make me imagine the Next Gen NBN is doomed to be a failure. Maybe S$1 billion government funding is not enough.

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