Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Global Internet Traffic Routes Around US Eroding Its Dominance



Internet Routes Around US
Internet Routes Around US

October 21, 2008 By

Time was when the Internet couldn't do without America. After all America invented it and developed it to the extent that for over three decades, no matter where Internet data originated or headed, it had to pass through the fat pipes and fast switches there. Yet as the use of Internet explodes elsewhere in the world, America is not only fast losing its central status but is also seen as a country that may be risky for routing Internet data.

In late August the NYT carried a report that raised quite a bit of furor in the USA. It said that much to the dismay of many - and of the American intelligence community in particular -- Internet data is increasingly bypassing the United States, taking a more direct route. And although the Internet is built that way -- to be universal and not subject to a central point of control, the fact that Internet traffic is flowing around US is not good news for America. Not only does it make it "impossible for the United States to maintain its hegemony", but it also has long term "military and intelligence consequences."

The report has hit a sensitive spot. Quite a few experts that this correspondent spoke to -including a few who have been quoted in the report -- found it difficult to accept that Internet data flow is slackening in the US and even if data is bypassing the country, so what? "The idea of U.S. hegemony over data flow is silly," wrote one of the experts quoted in that report in her blog.

Yet take a look at some of the recent research reports and some other tell-tale signs and it becomes evident that US is losing its dominance on the global Internet data flow. Moreover, a few countries -- particularly upstart ones like China, South Korea and even India -- are already giving US a run for its money in terms of investing heavily in next-generation Internet technology, and even cutting US out of the routing loop.

"In 1996, two-thirds of the world's online population was in the US but the country now accounts for less than 21% of the worldwide Internet population," said Magid Abraham, Co-founder and CEO of comScore, Inc., that calls itself a global Internet information provider of real-time measurement of Internet use. He added that "though the Top 10 Global properties are still all based in the United States, they source the majority of their audience from outside the US."

According to another report released in May by Park Associates, with Internet penetration at a comfortable 71%, although almost four of five US households have access to the Internet today, there is still a fairly high percentage - about 20 million, or 18% of all households- of US consumers who does not have access to the Internet and very few of them plan on using the Internet in the foreseeable future.

Admittedly, like it or not, the fact is that the global Internet traffic is increasingly bypassing the US. "If you go back to the mid-1990s, which was the beginning of the commercialization of the Internet, very few places outside the USA had Internet exchanges with long distance capacity," says Steve Gibbar, an Internet infrastructure consultant who runs his own consulting firm Steve Gibbard Consulting. "And most countries when they got their initial Internet connections, were buying connectivity to somewhere that is much better connected and in the beginning that was the US. But pretty quickly after the Internet became commercialized in the mid-90s we started seeing that sending traffic through this route wasn't very efficient. So that's how [Internet exchanges in] other places like London. Amsterdam, Tokyo, Seoul got developed and Internet traffic started flowing directly instead of going through the US."


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All