It’s Worldwide Internet, for Real This Time

[qi:046] For the past two years, I have been pointing towards a subtle but important shift that has started to take place – the globalization of the Internet. Thanks to a broadband boom in Europe, Asia and in new emerging economies such as Brazil and China, we are seeing Internet traffic shift away from its historic U.S.-centricity. The trend has been confirmed by our friends at Telegeography, who have put together a clever Internet map of the world. (Map image is below the fold.)

They point out that in 1999, 91 percent of Asian and 70 percent of African Internet capacity connected to the US. In 2008, only 54 percent of Asian countries’ international Internet capacity connects to the U.S., while only 6 percent of African countries bandwidth connects to the U.S., as Europe has become more of an Internet hub for Africa.

im09_routes1According to their study, international Internet capacity grew at a compounded annual rate of 57 percent between 2002 and 2008. In 2008, international Internet bandwidth rose 62 percent over 2007 as backbone operators continued to upgrade their networks to meet rising traffic requirements.


Telegeography says the most annual growth was on optical cables that connected to Latin America and South Asia, which increased 119 percent and 112 percent, respectively, between 2007 and 2008. “The declining share of traffic routed via the U.S. actually reflects a healthy trend in the development of the global Internet,” said TeleGeography’s research director, Alan Mauldin.

My long-standing belief is that today’s network patters are like trade route patters of the Industrial age, and mirror the economic shifts in our societies.