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Internet Opportunity Just Keeps Getting Better

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I started covering the online world for a living in 1985. I began living on this medium in 1994, as the Web was being spun. I have never regretted that choice.

But the latest report on the Internet core from Akamai (AKAM - Get Report) shows you ain't seen nothing yet.

Broadband speeds are rising everywhere as noted in this article on thinkbroadband's Web site. Akamai itself has had to re-define its view of what "broadband" means because speeds of 2 megabytes per second have become so common. Increasingly 10 Mbps is the standard -- Akamai calls it "high broadband."

I want me some high broadband.

The big speed gains are in the core, fiber lines between major data centers. The strategy is to expand that core into more places, bringing it closer to customers. This means more data centers rather than tearing up streets or putting up new cell towers.

The core is bypassing the edge.

This has been Akamai's strategy from its beginnings in the 1990s. It mirrors content in many places to reduce long distance hops. But this is not just an Akamai strategy. This is what "the cloud" is about -- not just single data centers but networks of data centers.

A lot of new countries are getting into high broadband, committing to faster speeds as a national growth strategy. Places like Malaysia, the Philippines and Latvia now have connection speeds that rival and in some cases surpass those you can get here.

On the Internet, sprawl is not your friend. Building data centers and mirroring content costs much, much less than running new wires. It's not just rising gas costs that are driving Americans closer together, increasing core urban density at the expense of suburbs and exurbs. The Internet's economics are doing that.

The nations increasing their broadband speeds fastest are generally small nations. American speeds are increasing because we're putting core resources into more places, building more "cloud" data centers to minimize use of the wired infrastructure.

But America's Internet is not doing badly. While we don't have the fastest connection speeds, we're the second-leading source of traffic. Connection speeds increased 29% here year-over-year, and peak traffic rates are up 39% over last year. Mobile traffic has increased fivefold in just two years, and grows at 20% per quarter.
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