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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The US Internet Backbone & Net Neutrality

Courtesy of Information Aesthetics, came across the map of the internet backbone of the united states. The map shows all the 134,855 of routers in the extremely detailed map of the US Internet backbone. The colors represent who each router is registered to: red is Verizon, blue AT&T, yellow Qwest, green is major backbone players like Level 3 & Sprint Nextel, black is the entire cable industry put together, & gray is everyone else, from small telecommunications companies to large international players who only have a small presence in the U.S. It needs to be noted that while AT&T & the likes may own the pipes, the internet infrastructure ownership appears to be a different thing. Here's the link to the detailed PDF map. Ben Worthen has an excellent post covering the details. As one can see the net neutrality issue - which concerns the carriers, the content dealers and infomediaries is more complex an issue that it meets the eye. Not a great news for the incumbent Telco’s. The future of several VoIP players revolve around this.As a recent OECD workshop on internet infrastructure discussed, the top unsolved problems in internet operations & engineering are still rooted in economics, ownership and trust (EOT). As i wrote earlier, The principle achieves this by adopting the basic principle that broadband operatorsshould have full freedom to "police what they own" (the local network) while restrictionsbased on inter-network indicia should be viewed with suspicion. This non-discrimination principle works by recognizing a distinction betweenlocal network restrictions, which are generally allowable, and inter-network restrictions,which should be viewed as suspect - More on this topic can be found here. The issue looks tricky with logic and reason telling that telecom and cable players may prevail but history tells that innovators and swift players move fastly and more cleverly and establish themselves.

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