Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S.

Joe Abley jabley at
Mon Sep 15 07:36:25 CDT 2008

On 14 Sep 2008, at 23:38, Matthew Moyle-Croft wrote:

> Other cable systems predated FLAG (at least for voice).

The qualifier might be important.

As should have been obvious from all the IIRCs and related qualifiers  
in my note, I wasn't in Europe at the time I started paying attention  
to these things. However, in other parts of the world, circuits  
provisioned and planned for voice traffic growth started to become  
effectively full as soon as there was demand for circuits much bigger  
than an E1.

As an example, PacRimEast still had capacity in the late 90s, strictly  
speaking. But given the difficulty in ordering anything other than E1s  
on it at that time, did it really exist as a terrestrial option for  
New Zealand ISPs trying to send packets to the US? There was a lot of  
satellite transmission sold around that time on PanAmSat, IntelSat and  
Loral transponders, and it's not as if anybody was really using  
satellite out of choice. There are only so many discrete E1s you can  
comfortably inverse-mux together before it's really not worth bothering.

The timelines are no doubt different, since Europe experienced a giant  
boom in Internet demand and infrastructure while smaller markets like  
New Zealand were still preoccupied with X.25. However, the original  
question was whether there had ever been a time during which Europe  
had no option but to cross oceans to get to Asia, and I'd be surprised  
if that wasn't the case.

Perhaps someone who actually knows this stuff can throw some facts  
into the thread and put a stop to my wild speculation.

> SEA-ME-WE predates FLAG by almost a decade.   I'm sure some digging  
> would reveal a bit more on that path either submarine or terrestrial.

The contract to build SEA-ME-WE-4 was signed in March 2004, according  
to their web page.

SEA-ME-WE-3 was commissioned in March 2000 in India, according to  

The Europe-Asia segment of FLAG was lit in the mid-1990s.


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