London is global Internet bandwidth capital

London is the biggest international hub city on the Internet, according to a report by research company Telegeography.

London is the biggest international hub city on the Internet, according to a report by research company Telegeography, which also said international Internet traffic is growing faster in Latin America than in any other region.

There is 1.1T bps (bits per second) of international Internet bandwidth available on connections terminating in London, and peak traffic in and out of the city is about 439G bps, according to Telegeography, which on Wednesday released a report entitled Global Internet Geography. The report reflects only international capacity and traffic and excludes domestic statistics. Telegeography, based in Washington, D.C., is a division of PriMetrica Inc.

The U.S. has the most international bandwidth of any country, 1.4T bps, about 704G bps of which is being used at peak times. This reflects not just the large number of users and high-speed connections in the country but also international traffic that goes through the U.S., said Alan Mauldin, a senior research analyst at Telegeography. Virtually all Internet traffic between Latin America and Europe or Asia goes through the U.S., much of it through Miami, which has 68.7G bps of international capacity and 46G bps of peak traffic, he said. International traffic in and out of Latin America is booming, according to Telegeography, with year-over-year growth of 70 percent.

Though heavily used in business, international bandwidth isn't that important for many consumer uses of the Internet, Mauldin said.

"The everyday user doesn't necessarily use international traffic that much. If you check your e-mail, you're (generally) not going to use international traffic," he said.

However, peer-to-peer file-sharing takes up a lot of international bandwidth: Some Internet service providers (ISPs) told Telegeography it makes up 60 percent of their traffic, Mauldin said. Because peer-to-peer applications deliver content from all over the Internet, consumers may not be aware they are crossing borders to download it, Mauldin said.

For service providers, access to international Internet capacity is least expensive in the U.S. and Europe, according to Mauldin. The U.S. is the least expensive place to buy Gigabit Ethernet backbone access, at an average price of US$13 per 1M bps per month. Supply and demand, government regulation and reliance on relatively expensive submarine cables are among the factors keeping prices higher in other regions, he said.

The statistics exclude private data bandwidth and traditional circuit-switched phone capacity, as well as currently unused cable capacity, Mauldin said.

Other statistics in the report include the following:

- The busiest international route is between London and New York, where there is 320G bps of bandwidth and peak traffic of 153G bps.

- The biggest ISP by number of autonomous system connections is MCI Inc., which has 3,102 connections to other Internet networks, such as ISPs.

- The biggest ISP by number of countries connected is AT&T Corp., with links in 52 countries.

- Denmark has the most international bandwidth per person: 38K bps.

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