What is a Point of Presence (PoP)?

Definition

A point of presence (PoP) is a demarcation point, access point, or physical location at which two or more networks or communication devices share a connection.

Overview

The routers, switches, servers, and other devices necessary for traffic to cross over networks are all present at PoPs. Internet service providers and edge networks like StackPath typically have multiple points of presence located near large Internet exchange points (IXPs) at which they have peering agreements. The proximity of points of presence and Internet exchange points is one very important factor in how quickly traffic is able to traverse the Internet.

Points of presence vs. edge locations

A point of presence can be as simple as “a single server mounted in someone else’s cabinet.” Edge locations, on the other hand, are points of presence with full deployments of advanced infrastructure—not just a single server.

How Points of Presence Work

Points of presence work very much like Internet exchange points, only on a smaller scale. The equipment located in a point of presence can be broken down into five categories:

  1. Base stations: A central point of connection with an access point and bandwidth management to distribute connection speeds
  2. Client equipment: Used by customers to connect to the central point of connection
  3. Network switches: Provides the link to the “last mile” and is used for distribution
  4. Routers– Provides multiple routes to the network
  5. Firewall– Protects from internal and external threats

Points of presence at the edge

Internet service providers and content delivery networks have historically had thousands of points of presence. The larger the network, the more points of presence a company generally had. However, when placing points of presence at the edge with fully deployed infrastructure, it becomes both cost and performance inefficient to have thousands of locations. Edge locations are more sparse, but also more powerful than points of presence.

Examples of Points of Presence

A popular point of presence colocation is known as a carrier hotel. These buildings are fairly sizeable, averaging around 54,000 square feet, and are extremely secure. Carrier hotels sometimes offer hardware and software installation, maintenance, and update services. Internet service providers are not often found at these points of presence. Instead, carrier hotels generally cater to website hosting companies, storage service providers, and telecommunication companies.

Meet-me rooms

Inside carrier hotels are small spaces, averaging around 5,000 square feet, known as Meet-Me Rooms (MMRs). These small rooms house interconnected networking equipment that belongs to hundreds of telecommunication companies. Meet-Me Rooms are not always points of presence—they can also be points of entry, network access points, and demarcation points.

StackPath’s points of presence

StackPath has locations all over the world that are located next to IXPs to reduce latency. Every server within each location is provisioned with proprietary SmartNIC technology and solid state drives. Internally, we call these Super PoPs and they support every product we offer including edge containersedge VMs, and serverless edge computing.

Key Takeaways

  • Points of presence include routers, switches, servers, and other devices necessary for traffic to cross over networks.
  • A point of presence can be as simple as “a single server mounted in someone else’s cabinet.”
  • Edge locations, on the other hand, are full deployments of advanced infrastructure next to IXPs. These are the types of PoPs we provision at StackPath.
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