AfricaNSFThe Research University (TRU)

The Global Structure of the Internet and Its Critical Infrastructure: World Cities and Telecommunications: Ohio State University Research Foundation -DO NOT USE

Edward Malecki

[email protected]

People, businesses, governments, and other organizations rely on telecommunications networks not only to communicate with others but also as a key source of information. The Internet and its web sites have become a vast database, linked to nearly all points on the globe, yet its critical infrastructure (such as hubs of telephone networks and interconnection points with other networks) is concentrated in large cities. This research is designed to unpack the Internet into its component networks, particularly the large global networks that span national boundaries, and to identify their geography as nodes and links. This project will identify emerging and established hubs and gateways within the Internet's structure both in and outside the USA, and especially in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. The research also will identify how changes in industrial structure and location have affected telecommunications infrastructure at the local scale in the United States, where both deregulation and competition have created new but largely unplanned patterns of critical infrastructure. Telephone networks remain the hubs for Internet dial-up and broadband access for households and businesses. Thousands of telephone system central offices house the points of presence for local access to Internet backbone and long-distance networks, and are agglomerations of telecommunications infrastructure in cities. This project will utilize a geographic information system to determine the coincidence of network nodes, such as major co-location facilities, interconnection points, and major digital switching wire centers. The research will use bandwidth pricing data to estimate the demand for actual flows of digital information on dozens of routes and to estimate traffic flows. Focusing analysis on world cities where networks converge will untangle supply and demand for Internet connectivity via trends in the price of bandwidth. The research is synthetic and analytical, aimed to combine detailed characteristics of nearly 40,000 central office switches in the USA with trends in pricing data for 80 global routes. The global and local aspects of the research are merged only upon distillation of the central office and wire center data into a smaller number of urban nodes. <br/><br/>Telecommunications networks comprise a critical infrastructure on which the global economy increasingly depends. This research will track the continuing evolution of the Internet/telecom infrastructure, and relate this infrastructure at the global scale to the network of world cities. This research will monitor the major local elements of critical Internet and telecommunications infrastructure, including co-location facilities and large wire centers. The project also will update knowledge about the extent of Internet infrastructure and about the flows of data on its networks. As the telecommunications industry consolidates through bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, industry evolution affects the spatial form of the networks and their urban locations.<br/>

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