Does the Internet have circuits that never sleep?
In the United States, most of us live with the Internet at our fingertips on multiple devices 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But that is very much a first-world luxury. In many parts of the the world, the Internet goes to sleep every night along with the local population.
It’s strange to think about, but the Internet’s global usage is almost like a living thing waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. And that sleep cycle, which is different than an outage, is directly linked to a nation’s wealth, according to new research out of the University of Southern California.
The poorer a country is, the more likely it is that the country will go “offline” at night.
John Heidemann, a research professor at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute, led the research that mapped the day and night cycle of the world’s Internet usage. Heidemann and his team pinged about 3.7 million of the 4 billion IPv4 Internet addresses (which represents about 950 million IP addresses) every 11 minutes for two months. They tracked when each address was on or off, looking for daily patterns.
The data they gathered is visualized in the video below, and it shows an internet that is clearly more active in the daytime than it is at night. Usage in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe peaks during daytime hours and drops off at night. In first-world countries in North America and Europe, the Internet is running at a baseline level basically all the time. The public networks in these countries are significantly larger, with most people using home connections through personal routers they never shut off.
“This data helps us establish a baseline for the Internet — to understand how it functions, so that we have a better idea of how resilient it is as a whole, and can spot problems quicker,” Heidemann said in a press release, who hopes that tracking Internet activity over time will help guide Internet operation in the longer term.
“This work is one of the first to explore how networking policies affect how the network is used,” Heidemann said. He also added that, given our reliance on the Internet from working online to streaming movies, measuring and understanding network outages will go a long way in providing more reliable connections, which will certainly be useful for all those late night Netflix binges.
Featured Image/GIF: USC/You Tube