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International Internet Infrastructure Triples 117

bda writes: "TeleGeography has just published this year's statistics for international Internet infrastructure growth, aka how much capacity goes where. Worldwide, Internet bandwidth nearly tripled (174 percent growth), but behind it are some pretty big differences -- growth ranged from 90 percent (less than doubling) for Africa to 479 percent (almost sextupling) for Latin America. City-wise, the top interregional hubs connecting between continents were New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, SF, Tokyo, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, in that order. So the Internet is still fairly U.S.-centric ... but still becoming less so. Asia-Pac's ratio of out-of-region to in-region international capacity went from 7:1 to 4:1; Lat Am's from 36:1 to 7:1. The most obvious factor in long-haul Internet bandwidth growth seems to be whether or not someone has plunged ahead and laid dark fiber. When we looked at trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific capacity, Internet capacity stayed pretty constant at 10 percent of what was theoretically possible over lit fiber." You can read the executive summary (pdf), or you can (gulp) pay $1,995 for the whole thing. That would work out to about 50 copies of the Atlas of Cyberspace.
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International Internet Infrastructure Triples

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  • That "Atlas of Cyberspace" link leads to Slashdot. Isn't that a bit presumptious? ;)
  • by Spootnik ( 518145 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @07:21PM (#2390269)
    Iraq has Internet, but only for the military. It is illegal to even own a modem in Iraq. Faxes, copiers, typewriters, etc. have to be registered. Satellite dishes are banned, although people do assemble and camouflage them. Foreign magazines coming into the country are censored, often arriving with certain pages torn out. The government keeps very tight control of any news coming into the country. The internet would be harder to control, so it is banned. Saddam recently declared that the internet is a sinister tool used by governments for brainwashing people and spreading pornography.

    Nizar Hamdoun, Iraq's retiring UN ambassador, in a recent interview, said that when he returns to Iraq, he will try to open internet access to the country. He thinks the internet is very useful, and would like Iraqi kids to enjoy the benefits. Hamdoun designed the Iraqi UN mission's web site.

    Iraq has international telephone access, which is also often monitored. The network was targeted and damaged during the Gulf War and the recent bombing. So service is sporadic.
  • I would like to see the comparative growth on the bandwith of 3rd world countries. I think it was static and most of the growth are enjoyed by more developed countries. Unfortunately the exec summary doesn't reveal all these stuffs so that the whole world may see how huge is the gap between them...

    • Well *most* of latin america is considered 3rd world and the growth there was amazing.

      Luckily for 3rd world countries we have reached the point where usable computers are cheap and abundant. I would be willing to bet that most of the growth was not broadband though.
      • It's too bad that most 486-66's are now landfill. (Although I rescued a couple when my company tossed some -- they run Linux just fine!) They'd do just fine in a 3rd world country for email, fax or even light browsing.

        "In this village, none of the children have ever fragged someone. Please do your part to help out."
      • It just proves even big bad drug dealers need their pr0n! Mind you all that Bolivian matching powder wont have done much for little Pablo...
  • by Millyways ( 262662 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @07:24PM (#2390283) Homepage
    I want to know if all this extra bandwidthis being paid for or whether internationally the cost of internet bandwidth is dropping. Here in australia with the internet backbone provided by only to main companies we are still charged fairly restrictive bandwidth prices.

    I currently have a permament 28.8kbs connection charged at AU18c a Mb. With the advent of a PPPoE switched network in our city it was meant to herald a new age of connectivity with streaming movies and megabandwidth available. Shure it may be available but they are charging pretty similar rates per meg to my current modem connection. Meaning I could run up a AU$500 bill in a matter of minutes downloading the debian iso's for example.

    Shouldn't the increse of available bandwidth decrease the cost to the consumers?
    • That sounds rediculous.

      In the Denmark you can get ADSL starting at around $40/month for a 384/128 (depends on the ISP).
      And a lot of buildings have 10MBit for a very low price per. subscriber. (Wireless radio connections is starting to kick in.)

      But then again who cares! I'm on the .edu net here at my dorm. 100MBit.
      (It's allways nice to be able to move the graph at )
  • Two main thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @07:27PM (#2390292) Homepage
    The main things one gets from this are:

    1. Europe is growing rapidly, but not pulling Africa along with it.

    2. Asia/Pacific is moving from a US-centric model to a Pacific model centered in Japan and Australia.

    Both of these are fairly good things for the Net, and the first has positive implications for Privacy rights and where the Net will change, as the US fails to take the lead on things such as opt-in email requirements and consumer privacy, but the EU provides and enforces them. This will be the major battle of the zeros decade, as well as the transparency and ubiquity of the Net in most European countries and their direct colonies.

    The breakdown of the US-centric Pacific/Asian model is probably good, as it was a bad fit before, but has negative implications for Privacy and also for Piracy. However, it may lead to increased growth of open source computing, as these regions deal with both growth and a downturn in economic fortunes. The need for servers and Net components will increase, but pressure to drop prices will most certainly kill MSFT control of this area, which will help force open source into most transparent background Net technology.


  • Does this mean all those people layed off at Nortel might get their jobs back??? I thought that the companies weren't laying fiber anymore (or at least greatly reduced the amount they are laying)... Did I miss something, or are backbones linked via some medium other than fiber?
    • Last i knew, there was still millions of miles already LAYED underground, but not enough money left to hook it up to anything. (damn anti-spam 2min wait :-p )
    • There's lots of glass in the ground now, most of it dark.

      Digging trenches and laying conduit is only part of the story. It is expensive to do, and costs enough that if you're digging in the first place it's not a whole lot more expensive to lay a hundred fibres as it is to lay one. It's cheaper to overprovision than it is to go back and dig up your trench in three years.

      Laying the fibre is only part of the question. Getting the fibre into the ground costs (grasping at an arbitrary number) a quarter of the total cost to light it. All that fancy kit on either end and points in between costs lots of money and sucks a lot of power (not an issue in LA or NYC, but a major issue if you have to regenerate your signals somewhere in the middle of the Rocky Mountains).

      Nortel and other systems providers will eventually start to make a decent income again selling equipment to light the dark fibre (or add wavelengths to partly lit fibre). It's Corning I'm worried about...
    • Doubtful... On Tuesday Nortel just announced another 15K-20K job reductions.
  • ...son's of bitch's..... look at the New York bandwidth on the executive pdf... thats INSANE compared to everything else. I sure am glad I'm in the US... cept for Europe and Japan, seems nobody else has a nice connection :)
  • That post deserves an award for the longest single post contributed by a user, ever.
  • by perdida ( 251676 )
    The fact that the infrastructure has gotten so big and so few of the truly UN-connected (i.e. non western countries, disadvantaged schools) have gotten connected in the meantime makes me relegate this infrastructure expansion to the trash bin with the dutch tulip craze.

    An investment craze, a gold rush, call it whatever you want. What it means is that people have expanded infrastructure in a way that does not prove sustainable in the long run because it doesn't reach everybody.

    Cars have penetrated nearly everywhere. Even cities whejre most people don't have cars gain benefits from cars and a car infrastructure. The same thing cannot be said for the Internet infrastructure.

    Until the Bruce Sterling world exists and we have a self maintained system of multiple Nets and self-made, semi disposable computers for nearly everybody (including the poor and nomadic people in the world), then we won't have a useful Internet that will last beyond its gold rush period.

    It has to become like the car. People said the car wouldn't penetrate certain levels of society either you know.

    • "The fact that the infrastructure has gotten so big and so few of the truly UN-connected (i.e. non western countries, disadvantaged schools) have gotten connected in the meantime makes me relegate this infrastructure expansion to the trash bin with the dutch tulip craze."

      Okay, fair enough, but a couple of paragraphs later ...

      "It has to become like the car. People said the car wouldn't penetrate certain levels of society either you know."

      Yes, exactly. These things always take time, and it's always the rich who get it first. Well, okay, the very first are the inventors (who are usually, themselves, reasonably well-off) but then, in order, it's:

      1) The rich in rich countries

      2) The rich in poor countries and the middle class in rich countries

      3) The poor in rich countries and the (usually small) middle class in poor countries

      4) Absolutely everybody

      Note that the automobile is still going through this process -- I'd put it at about stage 3.5 -- but nobody denies the ubiquity of the automobile, or doubts that it will get even more ubiquitous in the future. Air travel is at about 2.7. Antibiotics, 3.9. Radio, 4. TV, just about exactly on 3. Etc. I'm sure I could come up with some other examples, but you get the idea. This is a technological growth pattern that is neither new nor unique to any one technology.

      Internet connectivity I'd say is at about 2.5, which may not be all that great -- but considering that the idea of mass connection to the Net is only about two decades old by the most generous possible measure (counting Compuserve et seq as part of "the Net" -- if you only count the Internet as such, I'd say less than a decade, since 99% of the population had never heard of it before the advent of the WWW) it's not doing that badly. Unless things really go to hell for some reason, I predict stage 3 within the next few years and stage 4 no later than 2020.

      So don't write off the Net. The "Bruce Sterling world" will be here soon enough.
      • While the direction of your insight is accurate, the final claim - that some benefit eventually reaches "absolutely everybody" - is simply not true. There are millions of people without the very basic benefits of the medical innovations of the past century. The majority of people on the planet have never made a phone call. Global literacy is, if I remember correctly, under 20%. Television is the most ubiquitous of major technologies because it is frequently shared - a single television can serve a community - but its penetration is still far from universal.

        And with the penetration of media technologies like television and the internet comes the concommitent loss of cultural variety, too. I don't think cultural diversity for its own sake is always a unmitigatedly good thing (cultural practices that, for example, abuse women are ones that I wouldn't miss after they're deprecated, and I wouldn't want to sentence anyone to malaria in the name of cultural diversity) but some technologies deteriorate cultures without equivalent benefit or generating compensating cultural institutions (TV topping the list, IMO.)

    • Cars have penetrated nearly everywhere. Even cities whejre most people don't have cars gain benefits from cars and a car infrastructure. The same thing cannot be said for the Internet infrastructure.

      Yeah, while cars may not have filtered down to the poorest, everybody feels the benefit of increased pollution, and danger of walking across the road. It is difficult to establish a price on how much people who dont have cars have benefited by this, but that wont stop Economic Rationalist scum like yourself from justifiying this madness.
  • by pgrote ( 68235 )
    The bandwidth growth is great, but that doesn't mean it is being used.

    What would be great is if we could see the comparative stats on increased bandwidth vs. the usage of clients.

    Increased bandwidth doesn't necessarily mean an expansion of access to everyone in the world.

  • Poorly done charts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HorsePunchKid ( 306850 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @07:44PM (#2390361) Homepage
    Ever since reading Edward Tufte's books [] on visualization of data, I've looked at graphs, charts, and diagrams such as those in this report with a much more critical eye. It really bothers me that people get away with distorting data so terribly. For example, take a look at that first chart of "Interregional Internet Bandwidth". The numbers seem to have almost nothing to do with how they displayed the data, aside from the general correlation between thickness of the line and the size of the number. Your eye is tricked into comparing the areas of some of the lines because of how absurdly thick the US / Europe one is. And the spread of data makes it impossible for the vague correlation of data to be meaningful. There's no way that Latin America / Europe line is 1/2000 of the thickness of the US / Europe line. It bothers me that "executives" will be making decisions based on poor data displays like this.
    • Looking at the display of "Major International Internet Routes", I'm left with the same disappointment in the apparent quality of this publication. The legend is almost worthless, in that it adds almost nothing to my understanding of the graph. I'm still left to just make a ballpark estimate of how big the San Francisco pipe is. The stylized geographic elements are chunky and distract from the data being displayed. The lack of any distinction between pipes makes them get visually lost every time they intersect. It obscures interesting bits, such as the fact that Tokyo is connected by all three pipes to the US. It fails to give an overall picture of how much bandwidth is coming out of Tokyo, since two pipes are merged and one is left off by itself. This seems terribly amateur to me. Ugh!
    • It also had the actual speed numbers next to it... a little calc and you have 1/2386 difference in Bandwidth between Europe/Latin America and Europe/US...

      Why do you find that so surprising? Why lay a much longer fiber cable to Latin America, when you can just lay one to US, and interconnect with Latin America through the US?

      Also, doubtful there is as much demand for the Latin America/Europe link than there is for the US/Europe link.

  • European Interchange (Score:4, Informative)

    by friday2k ( 205692 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @07:51PM (#2390383)
    Wouldn't it be worthwhile for the researcher to add the Inner-European Interchanges, too? I remember from my time in Germany that FrankfurtLondon is a MAJOR Hub, for instance many English Providers have a direct peering at the DECIX []. Same goes for the Netherlands and other countries. Now it depends on your routing, but many times you are being routed through other European countries first and then it very well matters how your interconnect with those countries works ...

  • I'm really curious to read what they have in the sample page which features Israel and Ireland. Both have developed hi-tech hubs (Israel probably more so). I think I read that israeli companies form the largest contingency on Nasdaq after the north american companies, and they're mostly hi-tech. That should translate to some real bandwidth.
  • So if a country went from 2400 baud modems up to 56k modems, would that be considered over a factor of 20 increase in bandwidth? Sure - doesn't mean they are downloading at a high speed relative to the rest of the world. A good sign, nonetheless.
  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @09:59PM (#2390673) Journal
    The article seems to send a message that a US-centric Internet is bad, even though other countries/continents are catching up. Umm, the Internet was invented by the DOD, and more or less just given to the (at first) US public, and then the world. At considerable expense, don't forget. For any country to complain about not having "equal access" to the Internet should basically shut up until they put in the money that the US put in initially. (Disregard the billions put into the infrastructure since then).

    Don't get me wrong, I am glad that international connections, servers, and users are growing by leaps and bounds. The more connections in the world, that is more info that can be spread, more tolerance that can be learned, more history and purpose that can be learned. Cultures (sp?) intersect and learn from each other. The human race grows at a pace not ever, ever seen before!!

    I just get very frustrated by people that say "Antartica only has a 4Kb connection to the Internet! Unfair!!! We deserve an OC-48 RIGHT NOW!"

    I hope you see what I mean.
    • Okay, now sit your pansy lamerican arse back on your seat for a moment.

      Who pays for the link from Australia to the United States? Give you a clue - Australians. Whatever infrastructure corporate USA has sunk into your soil is irrelevant. We pay for all the traffic to and from Australia. When some lamerican skript kiddy ping floods an Australian server, that's Australian dollars footing the bill.

      Having an anywhere-centric Internet is bad, since that means there are fewer Governments that need to be corrupted to spoil the Internet. Having a USA centric Internet is especially bad, since the USA doesn't respect the rights of foreign persons or corporations. Let's see - the USA brought us Echelon and Spam. The good old US of A, mate - they take with one hand, and serve crap with the other.

      • Feel free to create your own AussieNet, and lay the fibre down, and then we will pay you. Until you pay the intial costs, shut the fuck up. Oooh, we have to pay for stuff!!! Wah! I guess the billions of dollars we spent creating the 'net and laying fibre means nothing, right? Of course not, because now you have Internet access, and you deserved it all along. No, to those who dare the investments come the awards, and sorry, Australia didn't do squat in relation to the Internet.

        Fail- try again.
    • Umm, the Internet was invented by the DOD, and more or less just given to the (at first) US public, and then the world. At considerable expense, don't forget.

      And the web was invented by an Englishman at the CERN institute in Switzerland. I think your point is a bit weak.
      • Good point. And then we have the IRC protocol, made by Jarkko Oikarinen in Finland. The internet (TCP/IP) itself is certainly a US invention but without the web it would be useless for most people. In summary -- I would say the bits and pieces making up the technology people use over the internet are truly international.
      • And the Web would be useless without the 'net. The initial breakthrough was the interconnection of systems and networks. Sure, other people and countries made improvements on it. But I don't recall any other country ever making the fundamental leap to a really distributive architecture. Sure, you found an apple, we just found the orchard.
        • Boolean logic was invented by an Irishman, George Boole, at University College Cork. None of this shit would exist without that, so I would say that the Irish invented everything that has everything existed. Apart from the stuff that was invented by other people.
    • [quote] the top interregional hubs connecting between continents were New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, SF, Tokyo, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, in that order. So the Internet is still fairly U.S.-centric... [/quote]

      Out of the top 5 interregional hubs 4 are based in West-Europe. So the internet is still fairly Europe-centric... :)
      • Yes, I know... SF is not in West-Europe. Sorry.
      • Ok:

        #1 is NY
        2 of 5 is US
        3 of 7 is US
        4 of 8 is US
        5 of 9 is US
        5 of 10 is US

        or 5 US, 4 Europe, 1 Asia- nope, you fail (unless Tokyo somehow became European recently- nice try on the stats, though)

        And these are international hubs. Howabout intra-continental traffic?

        • Actually my point was that it matters quite a lot which N you use when looking at the top-N, just like you are writing. Using N=10: US is biggest. Using N=5, Europe is biggest.

          Statistics... ;) Obviously looking at only some place names where hubs are located doesn't give good indications about "internet traffic" -- bandwith, from where to where etc are also important.
    • For any country to complain about not having "equal access" to the Internet should basically shut up until they put in the money that the US put in initially. (Disregard the billions put into the infrastructure since then)

      Okay, just let me get this straight. You want us all to pour massive amounts of money into the Internet before we can have "equal access", but we have to "disregard" the billions put into the infrastructure already? What, does that not count or something? Will it count from now? I hope someone is keeping tabs, we wouldn't want the US to be out-invested or anything now would we.

      xx Stuii!

      • What I meant by "disregard the billions put in since then", I meant disregard the billion of dollars the US has put in since the Internet was created. Meaning all the inter-oceanic fiber we have put down, all the upgrades we have made in the US network, all the investment money we have given to other countries to support their networks. I didn't mean disregard the money other countries have put in. I meant once other countries have met our ORIGINAL (ie, 1970) investment, maybe we show start listening to their complaints, even if we ignore every dollar the US has invested since 1970 (and how much do you think that is?)

        Sorry I was unclear on that point, my fault.
  • by Bob_Robertson ( 454888 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @10:13PM (#2390698) Homepage
    Huge connectivity, but to what?

    Bandwidth is like megahertz, it's an arbitrary number that may or may not be useful.

    The broad-band providers maximized their customer experience by caching at their head-ends. The "massive bandwidth" of broadband was therefore useful, without the lag times that must be considered.

    Even in a perfect network, the latency for data travel matters. How often are the LED's on your 56K modem pegged on by a datastream where your link is the limiting factor?

    A 747 full of DAT's has truly awsome bandwidth, but the latency is deadly.

    The beauty of this massive engorgement in fibers is that once layed, a fiber optic cable's capacity is limited only by the hardware at the end points. Any improvement in technology, such as WDM, multiplies the available bits-per-second without having to lay more fiber.

    As places like NewYork and London and Tokyo reach a fiber glut, the rest of the world will follow. Just like telephones and electric power, "poor" places will simply get their access at a slower pace. But there are always alternatives, such as satellite, to get the information. It might not be in flashy graphics, or up-to-the-second, but "poor" areas have no demand for that to cover the costs anyway. That's why they're called "poor".

    If you think that an area is under-served, then stand up and join or organize a group to lay the freaking fiber. Complaining all day won't put cables in the water/ground.

    But when you do, think also of what it is you're connecting *to*, or you may end up connected to nothing anyone wants.


    • A 747 full of DAT's has truly awsome bandwidth, but the latency is deadly.

      A 747 freighter [] has a cargo capacity of 777.9 cubic metres, or 109,800kg (ie: whichever you hit first). By volume, it could carry 8 million DDS3 tapes [], equivalent to approximately 96 Terabytes per load. However, it can only carry approximately 481,000 DDS3 tapes by weight (box of 5 weighs 228g), which is only equivalent to 5.7 Terabytes per load.

      Assuming you can load the data on and read the data off those tapes instantaneously, and assuming you had a perfect 14 hour flight from Sydney (Australia) [] to Los Angeles (United States) [], your maximum bandwidth is close to 916 bits per second.

      Not that awesome at all, really.

      • by Grail ( 18233 )

        D'oh! Don't you hate it when you put the decimal point a few too many places to the left?

        5.7 Petabytes per load.

        916 Megabits per second average throughput.

        So maybe it is that awesome after all :)

        You could take a week to write the tapes and load them, and another week to unload and read them, and you'd still have damned good throughput for an international link. I'm impressed.

        Just goes to show - the calculator got the number right, but it's the nut behind the wheel who has got to get the units right.

      • Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but 481,500 tapes * 20GB per tape(*) = 9,630,000GB = 9404TB = 9.4PB.

        How did you get 5.7TB ?

        If you could somehow carry the full 8 million tapes, the total data capacity would be 149 Zettabytes.

        And the bandwith calculation is suspect too. Even if your capacity estimate is correct, moving 5.7TB in 14 hours requires a bandwidth of 945Mbps. Moving 9.4PB in 14 hours requires a bandwidth of over 1.5Tbps.

        *Assuming DDS-4 uncompressed, not DDS-3

        • *Assuming DDS-4 uncompressed, not DDS-3

          Why are you correcting me based on DDS4, when I specified DDS3?

          And as I posted about half an hour ago - oops, I a 10^3 error. Then oops, I did it again!

          • Sorry. I figured that we were trying to find the maximum bandwidth of a 777. Since a DDS-4 tape is the same size and weight as a DDS-3 tape it seemed like a logical way to maximize the bandwidth with a minimum of further research.

            And, you posted your correction after I started writing mine. I didn't see it until after I hit submit.

  • One diagram shows the asia pacific region as having only 41.8 gbs to USA. Where's the 240 gbs between NZ and USA gone to?
    • It sounds like you're mixing up network layers.

      Our numbers deal with deployed Internet capacity -- router-to-router IP links that carry public Internet traffic. Internet capacity is carved out of raw bandwidth, the stuff they light submarine cables with. The Southern Cross Cable Network is scheduled to hit 240 Gbps of raw capacity as of early 2002, and Southern Cross connected to New Zealand (but not only New Zealand). So I'm going to assume you're talking about Southern Cross.

      The point: raw bandwidth is not Internet bandwidth; Internet bandwidth is always a subset of raw bandwidth. As noted, the total trans-oceanic capacities we saw suggested that there is usually a 10:1 relationship, but more research is required to come up with a definitive answer.
  • US Centric? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bagel ( 78837 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @10:52PM (#2390758)
    I fail to see why the poster claim that the net is US centric. Half the city of the top hub lists are not in the US. Also, in the executive summary on the site, it claims the key backbone truck are London->New York (77.7 Gbps), SF->Tokyo (7.9) an Sao Paulo to Miami (3.4). This just shows that traffic/capacity to the US from Asia and South America is pretty non-significant compare to traffic from Europe. It also says that within Europe, half of the traffic is within Europe itself, while to the remaining half goes to the rest of the world. So, at least for Europe, US is certainly not the centre of their internet.
    • Re:US Centric? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Basically, Americans only read English-language websites, advoid "forreign" websites like the plague, which explains why they have the mistaken belief that the internet is US-centric.

      Americans always have an attitude towards the internet that it's the *USAnet*, and that if you're not from America, then you're a forreigner using their USAnet. Slashdot's US-centric bias is just one example of that.
    • Given that only 4% of the world population resides in the US, the fact that half of the top hub cities are in the US means the the Internet is pretty US-centric.
  • Internet bandwidth nearly tripled (174 percent growth),

    If you had 100 "units" of bandwidth, and you then had 174 percent of them the next year, you'd have 174 "units" of bandwidth. Which is not triple.

    If you had 100 "uints" of bandwidth and you the ADDED 174 percent of that capacity (I guess they mean in this case that "growth == new", which is not clear), you would have 274 "units",which is not near triple either... it's closer to two and a half times... but I'm sure the folks who are exited enough to write about it want it to be triple.

    You can also do the "shampoo" statistics. Take a 12 oz. bottle of shampoo. Make it into an 18oz bottle. It's now "50% bigger"... unless you do the math from the other side, in which case it's only 33% bigger.

    I fergit who said it, but they were right: "There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics."

  • Sextupling is what the internet is all about!

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley