Kelly Scott Madison

The Internet Superhighway is Headed for a Massive Pileup

05/04/2015

 

The internet is a complicated place that wasn’t necessarily built to handle the traffic levels it faces today.

The internet is a complicated place that wasn’t necessarily built to handle the traffic levels it faces today. Consumers expect on-demand content and providers expect to make a profit. As a result, there has been significant press coverage regarding net neutrality and deals between Netflix and major ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like Comcast and Verizon. Most experts are focused on mourning the lossof net neutrality as a result of thesedeals, but there are even bigger issues to consider in this growing conflict.

In order to understand these major issues, it is essential to comprehend how the internet actually works beyond end users’ abilities to watch ten, back-to-back episodes of “Orange is the New Black.” ISPs offer average consumers internet access for a price.They are considered Tier 3 service providers. Those companies in turn, purchase their internet service from Tier 1 providers like Level 3 or Akamai. The Tier 1 providers are interconnected and make up the base of traffic lanes upon which the entire internet is built.

Since no one network has the ability to build coverage spanning the entire globe, these providers share traffic routes. As a result, they have long worked together to create mutuallybeneficial interconnectivity (also known as “peering”) deals which often did not involve the exchange of dollars. Data sent through the internet is broken up into pieces and shipped along these interconnected traffic lanes until it arrives at its destination (your computer or online device), where it is pieced back together to form an email or digital document. As long as traffic...


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