The importance of peering for a low-latency network

importance of peering for low-latency network
23 May 2023
A strong backbone network is composed of many parts and connections. From the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), all the way to the hosting server of the website, game, or real-time communication (RTC) application you are running, each and every component of the network can have a positive or negative impact on the speed with which you are sending and receiving data packets. This article will look to address one of the central components of this network — peering arrangements — and assess the impact they have on latency for the final user.

Table of Contents

Before we delve into the specifics of how peering arrangements can be used to connect users on your application or video game with one another, it is important to define ‘peering’.

What is peering?

Peering refers to the interconnection of separate networks at an internet exchange point (IXP) or a direct private network interconnection (PNI). It is an arrangement between two providers to exchange traffic directly, without the need for intermediaries or transit providers. 

How does peering work?

Peering agreements are established between network operators to exchange routing information and enable the exchange of data packets between their respective networks. The keyword here is ‘directly’ meaning that networks can essentially agree to exchange traffic that is routed to or from their customers without the involvement of 3rd parties.

Peering enhances network performance and efficiency by reducing the reliance on upstream transit providers and decreasing the number of hops between networks. It enables faster and more direct data transmission, lower latency, and improved network reliability.

Peering is typically beneficial for both parties involved, as it allows them to exchange traffic directly, improving the overall quality of service. The practice plays a crucial role in the functioning of the internet by facilitating the exchange of traffic between networks, improving connectivity, and enhancing the overall performance of the internet infrastructure.

Connecting the world one subsea cable at a time

The internet is a global network that connects millions of devices and networks worldwide, and its architecture allows for seamless communication and data exchange between regions, or at least, that is the idea.

In practice, connecting continents and regions to one another and then connecting countries and cities within those regions is a very complicated process. At the heart of all of this, the internet relies on undersea fiber optic cables to establish connections between continents. These cables, often referred to as subsea or submarine cables, span vast distances across oceans and seas, providing the physical infrastructure for data transmission between regions.

ISPs role in establishing connectivity

Within each region, ISPs play a crucial role in establishing connectivity. These ISPs connect end-users, businesses, and organizations to the internet through various technologies such as DSL, cable, fiber-optic or wireless connections. They are responsible for routing traffic within their networks and exchanging data with other networks.

It goes without saying that each network and ISP has its own architecture in place. The subsea cables they have access to, the number of customers, the applications, and websites they use, the peering agreements already in place, the connection of the ISP to the end user and a whole host of other factors determine whether two networks would find it advantageous to connect to one another.

Naturally, having a connection to the ‘right’ ISP or network would be more advantageous. But we will talk about what this means below.

Overall, it is important to remember that the internet connects regions through a combination of physical infrastructure, ISP interconnections (PNIs and IXPs), CDNs and global routing protocols. This interconnectedness allows for the seamless exchange of information and enables users in different regions to access online services, communicate, and share data on a global scale.

Network considerations for latency-senstive services 

Cross-regional and internal regional connections

The above explanation was given to show that subsea cables and all the other bits and pieces of infrastructure from one user to another — even those sitting on different continents — need to be performing at a certain level for data to travel between regions. Put simply, for services that require low-latency services such as when users call through RTC applications or even when your users play a match of a multiplayer game with their friends, regional dynamics, and the connections between continents and in turn networks and ISPs play a key role.

Understanding potential causes of a high ping connection

High ping or a laggy call can indeed be a problem with the Wi-Fi connection to your computer, but it could also be the result of inefficient routing, or the lack of a peering arrangement between your user’s ISP and the network that the application is hosted on. Latency and a reliable connection are non-negotiable for developers of RTC applications and multiplayer video games, which is why it is so important to choose your compute resources with network considerations in mind.

Network design and external limitations 

Even if your traffic is limited to one region, the way a network is designed and the connections it has within that region can affect the quality of service. A network is subject to the limitations imposed by external factors such as geography, territorial considerations, and of course, the resulting regulatory and legal considerations of operating a network that has to function in multiple countries.

Different countries may have varying rules regarding internet access, content censorship, data privacy, and network management. These regulations can impact how data flows between regions and can introduce complexities in the global internet landscape. The relationship between countries is an added factor. In many regions, traffic meant to travel between neighboring countries has to be routed through a third country because of poor bilateral relations.

Peering the ‘right’ way

Even if none of these is a factor, connecting to the ‘right’ ISP through a peering arrangement can be the difference between a high-speed connection and a laggy experience for your users. For instance, gamers in the Middle East had to contend with high lag and problematic connections in addition to their opponents in the video game, setting them up for a poor player experience.’s partnership with DE-CIX in the region has allowed for more direct connections without traffic having to take a circuitous route through Europe, which in the past used to increase latency by values well beyond 100ms.

How empowers a global low-latency network

This was only possible because’s network team actively worked on bringing telecom operators and system integrators to UAE-IX and sought out the major providers, so that users within the region could be connected to one another directly.

An additional benefit of’s of doing this successfully meant that the users in the Middle East could now also connect to the rest of our 650 million users across the globe, improving the quality of service for all as a result. It goes without saying that’s objective to connect 1 billion users by 2025 will improve the experience of both old and new users— new users get the benefit of being on a reliable high-speed network while those already connected have the additional advantage of being connected to a larger base.

Having a low-latency network that has a consistently growing userbase, additional Points of Presence every year and peering with the strongest providers in each country globally means that in addition to the extra capacity, your next RTC or video game project will have instant access to high-quality services.

There is also the issue of planning for failure. Having on peering connection with an important market is great, but networks — even the strongest ones — can develop issues. This is why you must check if your resource provider has multiple connections to each region and location, to ensure that a drop does not completely cut off a section of your users from the rest of the network.

Main Take-Aways

Peering is a very important tool for network providers to connect their users globally. But this strategy needs to take a lot of factors into consideration, some of which can make or break a demanding application such as a multiplayer video game or RTC services.

Speak to’s experts to see how they can help you offer low-latency services to your users across the globe.

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