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Googlenet dwarfs all but two of world's ISPs

The tier 1 network that isn't

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Google handles more internet traffic than all but two of the world's ISPs, according to data from network-security outfit Arbor Networks.

If Google were an ISP, says Arbor chief scientist Craig Labovitz, it would be the fastest-growing carrier in the world, and its size would be matched only by a pair of tier 1 providers, which Labovitz declined to name to The Reg, citing "commercial reasons". As of last summer, according to Arbor's data, Google was contributing about six per cent of all global internet traffic.

The difference, of course, is that tier 1 ISPs handle traffic from myriad sources, including, well, Google. The Googlenet merely handles Google traffic. "The story here is how quickly the nature of the internet topology and landscape is changing," Labovitz tells The Reg.

The report also says that 60 per cent of Google's traffic is now delivered directly to consumer networks. In addition to building out a network of roughly 36 data centers and co-locating in more than 60 public exchanges, the company has spent the past year deploying its Google Global Cache (GGC) servers inside consumer networks across the globe. Labovitz says that according to Arbor's anecdotal conversations, more than half of all consumer providers in North American and Europe now have at least one rack of Google's cache servers.

All that's left is for Google to bridge those last few miles to the end user. And that's exactly what it's doing with the ultra-high-speed fiber networks it's planning for certain select communities in the US. Google says that it will build and test one-gigabit-per-second fiber connections to at least 50,000 US homes, and that this trial could expand to as many as 500,000 homes.

"First, Google competed with videos and search. Then it built out its own infrastructure and its own data centers," says Labovitz. "Next, it interconnected directly with consumer networks to ensure quality and price and other sorts of performance and business objectives. Next, it's not just about interconnecting with consumer networks, it's about deploying boxes within the consumer networks. And if you take this strategy to its logical conclusion, it's building its own fiber networks directly to the consumer."

Google insists that its fiber networks are merely for "experimental" purposes and that it has no intention of competing with consumer ISPs. But Google's definition of competition doesn't always mesh with the view from the outside world.

Arbor's study is based on data from 110 ISP partners worldwide. Its data does not include internal provider services such as VPN or IPTV traffic nor data that comes from co-located caches. It merely measures the traffic between providers. ®

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