A Quick Guide to Points of Presence (PoPs) and How they Work

A fiber-optic network can in some ways be described as an intricate, interconnected web of various pieces, parts, and players that work together to provide continuous, high-speed connectivity.

And of all of the elements involved in a network, points of presence (PoPs) are some of the most common, yet least understood.

But what are they, exactly? 

How do they work?

And how do they fit into a network?

Learn more in this quick guide.

 

The Whole Picture: Computer Networking, CDNs, & PoPs 

Before we examine what a PoP is, it’s crucial to paint the whole picture of computer networking and where PoPs fit in.

Any time we go online, send digital information, or receive digital information, content is being delivered. This information is distributed by a system called a CDN, which is known alternately as a content distribution network or a content delivery network.

CDNs consist of strategically located servers which hold data for future use (i.e., cache data) as well as synchronize data with different servers on the same CDN.

In order to increase the content delivery speed of the CDN, service providers place servers at “edge locations,” which are often in data centers near large Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Within the data centers, you’ll typically find a point of presence—a PoP.

 

What is a PoP?

A PoP is not just one single item, system, or device; it’s a collection of telecommunications technologies and equipment that allows users to access the Internet. The equipment in a PoP can vary from routers to aggregators to Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switches.  

Also, PoPs typically house the facility node or switching system of the interexchange carrier using it. (Examples of interchange carriers include Sprint and AT&T.)

  

How Do PoPs Work?

Think of all of the content that is delivered every day over a CDN: images, websites, videos…. The amounts can be staggering. But what happens to all of that data?

A CDN’s data is cached locally in their PoP. The purpose is simple: to increase the speed at which content is distributed.

Let’s say you open up a website on your computer or your smartphone. Watch how long it takes for each website element to appear. 

All of these elements are examples of the content that a CDN stores in its local PoP.

                                                                                                    

Independents Fiber Network’s Carrier-Class PoPs

In addition to having over 900 route miles of directly owned high-count fiber and another 700+ miles under management, Independents Fiber Network also has over 40 carrier-class PoPs so that we’re everywhere you need us to be.

Our carrier-class PoPs are all equipped with a standby generator that has an automatic transfer switch and diverse fiber entrance facilities.

Our unmanned carrier-class PoPs provide joint-use colocation areas. We provide flexibility by allowing you to supply your own rack/cabinet, or you may request it as part of our services.  We also give you choices for power, including +/-24 VDC, -48 VDC, 120 VAC and 240 VAC.

 

Curious to see where our carrier-class PoPs are and if they’re in your area?

Check Out Our Carrier PoPs!

 

Want to see our annual PoPs and where they’re found on our network?

Check Out Our Regional Network Map!