Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S.

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S.

By JOHN MARKOFF August 30, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - The era of the American Internet is ending.

Invented by American computer scientists during the 1970s, the Internet has been embraced around the globe. During the network's first three decades, most Internet traffic flowed through the United States. In many cases, data sent between two locations within a given country also passed through the United States.

Engineers who help run the Internet said that it would have been impossible for the United States to maintain its hegemony over the long run because of the very nature of the Internet; it has no central point of control.

And now, the balance of power is shifting. Data is increasingly flowing around the United States, which may have intelligence - and conceivably military - consequences.


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Monty Solomon
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Monty Solomon wrote in :

I'm no expert but hasn't the pricing and mentality of US Internet providers also caused part of this? The mentality of even treating large international ISPs as 'Internet access customers' and not as 'peering partners' offering the US connectivity to large parts of the Internet outside the US. With international fibre becoming cheaper and taking other routes the pricing of international connectivity via the US can be a good reason in itself.

Koos van den Hout

Reply to
Koos van den Hout

"Begins?" You gotta love it when the mean stream media 'discovers' what everyone in an industry knows to be business as usual. While the U.S.-based companies that built the early internet provided international access primarily by connecting other places to the U.S., it has been over a decade since projects like FLAG and SEA-ME-WE connected other parts of the world directly to each other, bypassing the U.S.

The article does, however, touch on an important issue: as the American government tries to exercise increasing control over the internet and other communications, whether it's tapping AT&T lines without a warrant or combating online gambling, foreign governments, organizations, and even privacy-minded individuals are growing increasingly reluctant to host data in the U.S. or to have their confidential information transit the United States.

To the CIA, NSA, and every other '> I'm no expert but hasn't the pricing and mentality of US Internet

It's partly the ILEC mentality ("we're the phone company and everyone else should be our paying customer" - the big internet backbones belong to telcos such as AT&T and Sprint) and partly the members of an exclusive and profitable club trying to keep it exclusive. It's not even a bias against non-U.S. companies, as illustrated by the repeated dramas surrounding Cogent Communications.

Outside the U.S. peering points are a way to avoid using expensive and/or congested transit links to the U.S. Perhaps because the additional cost and delay are not that significant, it's not unusual for a packet heading from a server in Toronto to a browser only blocks away to travel via Chicago or New York because that's where rival Canadian ISPs' transit providers talk to each other. Despite the relatively low penalty compared to, say, a trans-Pacific round trip, almost 100 internet access and hosting providers of varying size divert traffic off their transit connections via TORIX.

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