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The Internet Technology

Internet Traffic Shifting Away From Tier-1 Carriers 153

Posted by kdawson
from the shake-hands-with-the-big-boys dept.
carusoj writes 'The way traffic moves over the Internet has changed radically in the last five years. Arbor Networks next week will present the results of a two-year study, drawing on more than 256 exabytes of Internet traffic data, which found that the bulk of international Internet traffic no longer moves across Tier-1 transit providers. Instead, the traffic is handled directly by large content providers, content delivery networks, and consumer networks, and is handed off from one of these to another. You can probably guess what some of these companies are: Google, Microsoft, Facebook. Arbor says there are about 30 of these 'hyper giant' companies that generate and consume about 30% of all Internet traffic.' Here is the Arbor Networks press release on the report.
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Internet Traffic Shifting Away From Tier-1 Carriers

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  • by bconway (63464) on Friday October 16, 2009 @12:26PM (#29769853) Homepage
    the Internet really is a series of interconnected networks. And all is right in the world again.
    • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday October 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#29771583) Journal

      From TFA:

      Arbor also notes that Internet applications used to use a more diverse set of application-specific protocols and communication stacks, but that has consolidated as well. Traffic these days is concentrated on a small number of Web and video protocols, while peer-to-peer traffic has nosedived in the past two years.

      That leads to one of two conclusions:

      1. RIAA has won! Suck on it NewYorkCountryLawyer and all those who doubted that suing your customers was the gateway to success.
      2. RIAA overstated the problem in the first place. Nah, couldn't be.....
      • by Carnildo (712617)

        3. Peer-to-peer networks have gotten more efficient over the years. Early implementations of Gnutilla, for example, generated something like 75% of the Internet's traffic just holding itself together, about another 5% moving search requests and results around, and 1% transferring data.

      • by Luyseyal (3154)

        What, no iTunes option?

        -l
         
        /or Cowboy Neal...

    • by Ponga (934481)

      ...the Internet really is a series of interconnected networks...

      It's actually a series of TUBES.

  • by virchull (963203) on Friday October 16, 2009 @12:30PM (#29769897)
    With a few large, unregulated companies sourcing and directly distributing much of the Internet's traffic, the potential for self interested mischief grows. The FCC needs to set rules that create a neutral, flat playing field for all agents on the Internet - regardless of size or their role.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday October 16, 2009 @12:38PM (#29769997)

      With a few large, unregulated companies sourcing and directly distributing much of the Internet's traffic, the potential for self interested mischief grows.

      Actually, most of the motivation to erect additional barriers and artificial costs is the result of gatekeepers on users. What motivation does Google have to try to charge users more for traffic to Google? What motivation do they have to restrict access by some subset of users?

      This actually removes a potential problem, that being tier 1 providers using their position to extort money for not degrading performance to specific content providers. Still, I think the proposed network neutrality rules are important for network edge, last mile providers and it doesn't hurt to apply it across the board.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        With a few large, unregulated companies sourcing and directly distributing much of the Internet's traffic, the potential for self interested mischief grows.

        Actually, most of the motivation to erect additional barriers and artificial costs is the result of gatekeepers on users. What motivation does Google have to try to charge users more for traffic to Google? What motivation do they have to restrict access by some subset of users?

        This actually removes a potential problem, that being tier 1 providers using their position to extort money for not degrading performance to specific content providers. Still, I think the proposed network neutrality rules are important for network edge, last mile providers and it doesn't hurt to apply it across the board.

        Umm, Google already does this, so does Yahoo and a bunch of others. Just take a trip to mainland China and see if Google works the same for you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Umm, Google already does this, so does Yahoo and a bunch of others. Just take a trip to mainland China and see if Google works the same for you.

          Gee, I think I'll book a trip to China to test an anonymous coward's theory. Or maybe you could provide a citation or at least details about what you're claiming. You say Google is degrading performance for users in China in order to extort more money? Also, how does a potential US law have any influence on this in any case?

        • by jgtg32a (1173373)
          Actually my ex-girlfriend is in China right now, what tests should I have her run?
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Herpes for sure.

        • by shentino (1139071)

          That's different.

          Google only did that because China forced them to. And by forced, I mean that Google didn't want to.

          Google's position seems to be:

          Well, we would rather have open search, but big gold conehat government won't let us unless we agree to it.

          Now, if we don't go there, someone else will and will be more than happy to play 10 times dirtier than us.

          Hmm...I think the chinese would be better off with a little of us than a bunch of someone else.

          Don't blame google for something that the chinese govern

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dan541 (1032000)

          You don't need to goto China

          www.google.cn

          Compare results for "tieanamin square"

      • What motivation does Google have to try to charge users more for traffic to Google? What motivation do they have to restrict access by some subset of users?

        There was recently an article in the New Yorker that gave the following quote from Al Gore about a meeting he had with Sergey Brin and Larry Page: "They had to go to another meeting," Gore recalled, "and said, 'If you can stay, Al, we'd like to bring in the search-quality researchers and specialists in charge of this part of the business.' Ten of them came in. Larry and Sergey left. I spent another three hours. And then, when it was over, I gave Larry and Sergey an oral report." Why are Goolge's "search-qua

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by timeOday (582209)
          A more obvious explanation is that google is a major impetus behind the net neutrality push coming from the Obama administration. I guess it's possible this is all a convoluted plot for Sergey Brin to promote abortion on demand or something, but I think it's more likely google just doesn't want to get extorted by Comcast.
        • The answer to your question "What motivation do they have to restrict access by some subset of users?" is: restricting access to information posted by those who oppose their political agenda is a fairly strong motive.

          And as soon as that happens searchers can point their browsers to other search engines. Though I use mostly Google I still use Alta Vista. I also use About.com [about.com], Teoma (now Ask.com [ask.com]), Cuil [cuil.com], DMoz [dmoz.org], and Mooter [mooter.com].

          Falcon

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jhfry (829244)

      Until there are abuses, don't make laws. The problem with laws is that they too can be used for good or ill. A law, any law, restricts freedom.. no matter it's intent. I can think of very few well meaning laws that haven't been used in a way that the writers didn't intend.

      The great thing about the Internet is that if someone becomes disruptive, they will just be routed around. Until that ability begins to erode, lets keep the law out of it!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:09PM (#29770359)

        So how do I route around the only ISP available to me while holding down a full-time job and family?

        • by Nethead (1563)

          Very simple. Lease a T-1 and peer at the closest Internet Exchange. You'll have to get an ASN, something to route BGP with and likely another full time job to pay for it all.

        • You move. :D

          Besides: You say "full time job" as if it were something good that you would like to keep. You realize that it's basically slavery nowadays, and even if not, that a job means your life's work will be devoted to someone else, making him a person to be found in history books, while your whole existence will be forgotten in a couple of generations. And that there are much better alternatives. Like *yourself* being the guy on top, that will be found in history books.

          It's that thing called "freedom".

          • by Trogre (513942)

            Oh good.

            Perhaps you can explain to the GP how he can go about casting off the shackles of oppressive full-time employment to step up to the pinnacle of glorious on-toppedness, while still managing to feed his family.

            But please, keep it brief so us slaves have time to read it.

      • by camperdave (969942) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:17PM (#29770463) Journal
        The great thing about the Internet is that if someone becomes disruptive, they will just be routed around. Until that ability begins to erode, lets keep the law out of it!

        That's all well and good if you're in the middle of the network with several routes to choose from. If you're on the periphery you've only got one route, through your ISP. If they're the ones being disruptive, you're Straight Outta Luck.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jhfry (829244)

          There are alternatives, and if your ISP is preventing you from doing what you need/want to do you would find one. Sure it may not be available right now, as there isn't a need with your current ISP. But say your ISP started charging extra if you wanted to use some popular websites... now there would be enough unhappy customers that a competitor might be able to gain some traction.

          Market based solutions are not always swift, but they are usually better than legal based ones.

          I know if my local ISP started t

          • by pnuema (523776)
            We've tried this, remember? It turns out that those small ISPs have to buy bandwidth from the big ISPs they are competing with, and surprise surprise, those big ISPs were complete dicks and drove the small ones out of business.

            Market based solutions fail when there is no market. Monopolies are not markets.

            • by jhfry (829244)

              Exactly... if they are a monopoly then there are already laws on the books to take care of that... we don't need NN laws.

              • Except the telcom monopolies are legal under the existing regulations. ILEC [wikipedia.org]s rule their territory and anyone else wanting to offer service within their area has to end up using them in some fashion. That's where the government needs to step in and force the FCC to open competition.This happened in 1996 with the telco reform act [wikipedia.org]. It was full of crap when it passed but it still managed to help for awhile, spawning CLECs that with ISPs helped bring affordable Internet access to the masses. The Bush era FCC wit
          • by diamondsw (685967)

            No, for many people, there are no alternatives. I'm really glad for you that you have them, but others do not, and acting as if this is an imaginary problem is not helping.

            "a competitor might be able to gain some traction... I would start my own community ISP buying and reselling raw bandwidth"

            Or... just make it so that predatory practices don't occur in the first place. And are you completely unfamiliar with barriers to entry? Have fun laying out your new distribution network for your ISP - because clearly

            • Ah yes - please tell that to laborers in China or India, where such solutions don't exist.

              I agreed with you up until here. Chinese and Indian laborer's lives have improved greatly since their markets have opened up. They each now have millions of millionaires as well as billionaires. Though more than 2 years old here's 2 lists of Greater China's 40 Richest [forbes.com] and India's 40 Richest [forbes.com]. On Fortune's List of billionaires for 2008 [wikipedia.org] India has 56 and is tied with Germany.

              You may think of working in one of China's fa

          • by shentino (1139071)

            Market based solutions don't work AT ALL in cases of monopoly or cartel.

          • There are alternatives

            Heck not everyone can get broadband period never mind have a choice. In most places that can get broadband the provider has a monopoly. Even if I had a billion dollars I would not be able to dig up the ground and lay my own fiber. Anyone who says people can get broadband from a competitor doesn't live in the real world.

            I would start my own community ISP buying and reselling raw bandwidth. The worse they treat their customers the faster I would grow.

            And how would you deliver it? Sta

        • by GigsVT (208848)

          Net neutrality laws proposed to date have been concerned with what happens in the middle. None of them will do anything to solve the last mile natural monopoly.

      • by AP31R0N (723649) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:26PM (#29770573)

        Some laws create freedom (even while taking it). The laws against murder give us the freedom to live by discouraging murder (or even merely punishing it).

      • Until there are abuses, don't make laws.

        So much for all those "There oughta be a law!" after-the-fact cries from folks who suffer injustice. ;-)

        The problem with laws is that they too can be used for good or ill. A law, any law, restricts freedom.. no matter it's intent.

        That's a bit over-broad, doncha think? Assuming you mean "freedom" in a non-legal handwavy sense, I think you'd agree that laws against murder, theft, prohibitions against race discrimination, or consumer protection legislation protecting th

        • by jhfry (829244)

          Since you took the time, so will I.

          A law's sole purpose is to restrict freedoms... in other words to move further from anarchy.

          Sure many laws are necessary because without them society would crumble. However there should be as few laws as necessary to maintain a productive society.

          If they try to write network neutrality laws, then they will essentially be writing a law that says what the carriers CAN do as much as they are writing what they CAN'T do. At least right now they are being governed by their cus

          • At least right now they are being governed by their customer's interests

            Broadband providers are not governed by their customers' interest because most customers do not have have a choice as to who they get broadband from. Anyone in the US who disagrees, and belives most people have a choice for broadband, lives in a fantasy world.

            Falcon

      • by diamondsw (685967)

        Except there have been plenty of abuses, and typically at the last mile where there is no competition. If your area is only served by one pipe, good luck "routing around" that.

      • The great thing about the Internet is that if someone becomes disruptive, they will just be routed around.

        This only works if there is no monopoly. How many choices do you have for cable? DSL? Any other broadband access? Most people don't have a choice, many can't even get broadband. At the sane tyme big businesses took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to build out broadband but all they did with it was pad their pockets. Besides the $200 Billion [tispa.org] the feds gave them state and local governments

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bughunter (10093)

      Agreed. If bandwidth capacity becomes concentrated upon the same entities that are content providers, then the next logical step is the erection of barriers to competing content. It will be in their interest to create an artificial scarcity of bandwidth, either through network architecture or legislation, so that they can monopolize the delivery medium, much in the same way that TV networks and Radio stations were able to because of the real scarcity in the open-air EM spectrum.

      All the more reason for the

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Agreed. If bandwidth capacity becomes concentrated upon the same entities that are content providers, then the next logical step is the erection of barriers to competing content.

        I think you're misunderstanding what this article is talking about. It is about users of Google and other big content providers bypassing the tier 1 operators of the network core. There's no way Google can erect barriers to anyone but themselves in this scenario.

        It will be in their interest to create an artificial scarcity of bandwidth, either through network architecture or legislation, so that they can monopolize the delivery medium, much in the same way that TV networks and Radio stations were able to because of the real scarcity in the open-air EM spectrum.

        There are already one cable provider and one phone line provider making a duopoly restricting access and introducing uncompetitive scarcity. And you're worried that Google and 29 other companies that provide about 30% of content are going to togethe

      • by GigsVT (208848)

        That's not logical at all. Barriers would destroy the value of the Internet, and if any carrier were stupid enough to use them, people would scream bloody murder until they were removed.

        • Barriers would destroy the value of the Internet, and if any carrier were stupid enough to use them, people would scream bloody murder until they were removed.

          That is not true where there is a monopoly, ask those who can only get broadband from Comcast.

          Fslcon

      • by rodgster (671476)

        I wonder if most of the traffic to Microsoft occurs around the 2nd Tuesday of every month.

        > Google, Microsoft, Facebook. Arbor says there are about 30 of these 'hyper giant' companies that generate and consume about 30% of all Internet traffic.'

      • All the more reason for the development and mainstreaming of reliable, high bandwidth peer-to-peer ad hoc networking over wifi or wimax, or something else not controlled by telcos and googles.

        With such a network how do I visit Brazilian, Chinese, Danish, Joburg, and Sydney websites?

        Falcon

    • by geekmansworld (950281) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:23PM (#29770539) Homepage

      Getting back on TOPIC...

      Original poster is spot on. The big telecomms like to argue that a tiered internet, where big content providers pay extra for better transport, is necessary (nay, crucial) because that traffic produced by the content providers is consuming so much bandwidth that major infrastructure upgrades are needed.

      Instead, we see that big content is handling much of the fat transport by itself. So it seems to me that content providers have stepped up to the plate in terms of managing their own bandwidth usage.

      Time for big telecomm to shit down, shut up, and eat crow.

  • by tacokill (531275) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:00PM (#29770271)
    This is a great example of how the free market works best. Years and years ago, we used to sit on /. and bitch about the Tier-1 carriers and their business practices. Fast-forward many moons and lo-and-behold, we find that the Tier-1 customers felt the same way. Imagine that!

    So what do the content providers do? They simply route around the problem and do it themselves. Do they go complain to the government and ask for subsidies? No. Do they ask for new laws (that benefit them to the detriment of everyone else)? No.

    This is exactly what should have happened in a capitalist economy.

    For a bunch of internet geeks, I am surprised at how many anti-capitalists we have on this site. Capitalism is just like the internet in that it "routes around" damage. It used to be ruthlessly efficient back when we allowed companies to go bankrupt and customers to look elsewhere. Now that the government is into so many industries, I am not sure if that is the case anymore...but that is another discussion.

    I, for one, welcome our new non-Tier-1 major backbone providers. They are shining example of what happens when a heavily regulated industry stops innovating and serving it's customers. Eventually, another solution will be found, if the government doesn't get in the middle of it and start dictating how things will be. That's the free market at work.
    • by lewiscr (3314)

      Years and years ago, we used to sit on /. and bitch about the Tier-1 carriers.... ...lo-and-behold, we find that the Tier-1 customers felt the same way.

      I think you'll find that /. users are the Tier1's customers. Sure, not every /. user, but I bet /. has the highest percentage of users that are also Tier1 customers too.

    • by jlmale0 (1087135) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:30PM (#29770631)
      An interesting analysis. However, I don't see the same conclusion. These content providers are routing around the Tier 1 providers because they're too big. Yes, it's the internet at work, routing around the inefficiencies, but not because of T1 business practices, but because they get better, cheaper service doing it themselves.

      These aren't new non-Tier-1 major backbone providers. They're simply behemoths who've outgrown the playground. They're not reselling their access, they're providing bridges into the other silos. To me, this is a disheartening turn of events. While I don't see any of these companies cutting off access to the other silos (becoming AOL 2.0), they're locking up access in direct business-to-business agreements. If MS and Google decide to provide QoS on traffic X, or entirely block traffic Y, it's a matter between those two companies. Whereas, should a T1 provider do the same thing, we'd all be up in arms. Granted, The number of players makes these kinds of scenarios unlikely, but this direct linking starts to hide these kinds of concerns.
      • but not because of T1 business practices, but because they get better, cheaper service doing it themselves.
        It is not because of their business practices but how their business operates, and people find cheaper and better alternatives. Bad business practices tend to create problems in the company making them vulnerable to competition.

        • If the cost of pursuing such alternatives is buying thousands of miles of dark fiber all across the planet it's not an alternative open to very many.

    • by zappepcs (820751)

      Just a thought, capitalism is more like evolution than the Internet. It doesn't route around, it just allows bad ideas to fail. That said, the government(s) sometime stick their ho-ho grabbers in at the wrong places and we end up with life support systems woven into law for some business plans but not others. Evolution stops, and that's messing with nature man! Yes, I just compared Tier 1 providers to Frankenstein in a roundabout way. If the last mile was forced open so anyone can play, those 30 would easi

      • stock holders

        If you get rid of stockholders there won't be many investments made. Who would invest without a possibility of some payback? How much did the Soviet Union invent, without forced labor camps?

        Falcon

    • Eventually, another solution will be found, if the government doesn't get in the middle of it and start dictating how things will be.

      But [...] child pornography [...] .

    • by geekmansworld (950281) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:35PM (#29770689) Homepage

      WELL said, sir.

      I have plenty of gripes about capitalism. But yes, it is AWESOME to see it work the way it's supposed to. Content providers have protected their interests by making an investment in network infrastructure. And by doing so, it makes the internet, and internet-related industries at large, more competitive, diverse, and structurally robust.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Capitalism is just like the internet in that it "routes around" damage.

      Capitalism does not route around the damage, it INSTALLS the damage. A monopoly is damage.

      • by haxor.dk (463614)

        The biggest source of monopolies is irrefutably the government, not "capitalism", which is pretty much a bogeyman concept in most political discussions.

      • Capitalism does not route around the damage, it INSTALLS the damage. A monopoly is damage.

        A monopoly is not capitalism, and capitalism does try to route around damage.

        Falcon

    • by br00tus (528477)

      ARPAnet went online in 1969, and there was no legal commercial activity on it until 1992 (and all barriers to commercial activity did not fall until 1995). The creation and architecture of the Internet has nothing to do with the "free market" whatever that means (how is a market in the USA which uses dollars free while a market in the old USSR using rubles not free?). It has to do with two decades of massive taxpayer investment in research and development for the Internet, which from 1992 to 1995 was hand

      • by haxor.dk (463614)

        You manage to miss the point of the parent completely.

      • It continually amazes me how people who know little about the Internet, or just got on it recently, have rewritten its history to such an extent.

        Net history has been rewritten but to say without that without the government there would not be a network like the internet is to ignore or be ignorant of history also. That I know of, there may of been some earlier, the earliest network I known of was setup in 1969 as Compu-Serv Network, Inc. [wikipedia.org] by an insurance company. After the birth of homebrew [wikipedia.org] computers or mic

  • This seems like common sense to me... I mean anyone want to raise there hand if their homepage isn't on that top 30 list (other than /. or blank).
    • Quick, call the EFF! Google peers with Facebook! I have a constitutional right for all my Google-to-Facebook packets to transit some 3rd party carrier!

      Moreover, a lot of the 900-lb gorillas of the Internet have colocation operations in the same building, so peering is largely a matter of just tossing a cable over a partition or two.

  • That's like saying that each of 4 hotdog vendors outside of a baseball game "consume" 25% of the hotdogs served.

    They're fulfilling requests by outside agencies (users) made INTO their services.

    The users are the ones "consuming" the traffic.

    This kind of stupidity in language use just makes the desk so much more attractive to my forehead.

  • Random numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eison (56778) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <nosietkp>> on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:41PM (#29770765) Homepage

    Wasn't there a study that 80 to 95% of all traffic was bittorrent?
    And now 30% of all traffic is big sites like Google?
    This math doesn't add up. I think they're just making stuff up.

    • Here's a few ideas off the top of my head as to why; There's been a rather concerted campaign of sharing spam, viruses and mallware on the public bittorrent trackers that may be effective at discouraging users. Bittorrent is probably slightly harder to classify, with it's encryption and random port numbers. There's a lot more people watching stuff on youtube these days. With big cheap portable hard drives becomming more common, a lot of people have gone back to sneakernet.
  • I have been making this point forever. There was an article years ago that stated that Yahoo! was only being charged for half of its Internet costs. In other words, only half of their traffic at the time travelled over a transit link. The other half of their traffic travelled over peering links to ISP's with large subscriber numbers. They wanted to get their content to eye balls in the least expensive and most efficient way. This should be normal business on the Internet. Transit links can cost seriou
  • I don't see Google, Microsoft, Facebook and the like laying fiber in the ground all across the country. In some cases, they are buying it. I suspect they are mostly buying lambdas and dedicated circuits *FROM* Tier 1 providers. However, instead of going over the Tier 1 providers IP network, they are buying an OC-12 directly to where their customers are.

    Who would they possibly buy a point to point OC-12 from? Who has fiber in the ground and wavelength to spare? A tier 1 provider. Traffic is shifting, b

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