Fast Internet matters and it matters a lot.
It makes Internet surfing a more pleasurable experience. Also, there are real business implications to slow Internet. Whether it is slow page load times, lag time in gaming, or the effects of slow Internet on advertising bids, money can be won or lost.
We can begin to place blame on monay parties. We can say Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) are “throttling” Internet. They are infringing upon net neutrality. Or, not providing the proper infrastructure to an area. These complaints may be valid. The biggest improvements may not be where you might think. Building up the actual infrastructure of the Internet would be the better choice.
This comes as a response to the following article from Gizmodo:
The chief complaint of Adam Clark Estes is that the use of copper cabling is the source of slow American Internet speeds. This is not the only factor, as much of Europe utilizes DSL connections (copper cables) and rivals US Internets.
The factor that needs to be examined is the structure of Internet exchange points at the ISP level. What this does is shorten the geographical distances that data needs to travel.
Internet infrastructure should be the chief complaint.
Internet Exchange Points
Hands down, distance is the ultimate barrier to Internet speeds (and the speed of light). The conductivity of specific cabling becomes negligible if you cannot shorten the distances data needs to travel.
When discussing Internet exchange points, there becomes two factors which have an impact on speed. Strategically placed Internet exchange points can reduce distance.
- Where the Internet exchanges are located
- The coverage of Internet exchanges
In a country like the United States, where Internet exchanges are located, and how the individual ISP’s treat traffic is going to be a bigger factor than the actual cables.
When looking at a lesser developed country, such as Nigeria, the bigger problem is going to be the quantity of Internet exchange points. When we discuss quantity of exchange points, it means the country does not have enough to support the Internet. In the case of Nigeria, Internet traffic is sent to Europe.
When Internet Infrastructure is the Problem
Infrastructure becomes a problem, but not due to the material of the cables. Infrastructure becomes a problem when ISP’s are not investing in Internet exchange points.
This creates a situation where the BGP best path selected routes begin to send traffic over long distances. As we discussed above, the longer the distances are, the larger the impact on speed. The Internet infrastructure problem is Internet exchanges, not copper vs. fiber optics. At least yet anyways.
Last Mile Access Providers Slow Internet Speed
Last mile providers, which are your local ISP’s are the problem for slow Internets. They are the chief opponents of Net Neutrality. They have the most to lose when it comes to competition within their geographical location. This is the reason why building a better infrastructure needs to be demanded by consumers.
But let’s not demand more fiber optic cables just yet. First, we need to demand more Internet exchange points in more strategic locations. While it is a good idea to ask your ISP to upgrade the network. Ask for more exchange points rather than better cables.