Originally published: September 13, 2012
Last updated: September 20, 2012 - 12:03am
A decade ago the internet had about 1.4 terabits per second of global capacity while today it has 77 Tbps. But as the internet gets bigger, the way traffic moves back and forth across the “series of tubes” that make up the internet is changing.
As a result of the growth in internet exchange points around the world and more people in more countries getting online, the internet is becoming truly global. Instead of massive streams of data moving back and forth across entire networks each time people request a web page, a video or a digital download, data is getting sent to a content delivery network and kept at the edge of the network. Thus, when it’s called up by a user, it doesn’t have as far to go.
But there are two significant things that are changing how the internet is “shaped,” for lack of a better term.
- First, the growth of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and caches mean the traffic patterns look more like a river flowing downhill to a reservoir as opposed to millions if creeks spreading out to feed each user. Internet exchange points are giant data-center like buildings where different networks connect and exchange traffic. Content can be cached in local IXPs or even further out at the edge of the network in specific ISP’s central offices.
- Two, the growth of broadband access in the rest of the world means that places like Latin America and Africa, which used to depend on getting most of their bandwidth served from U.S. or European providers are gradually beefing up their supply of internet exchange points. (IXPs) They get content reservoirs too.
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