Measuring the digital divide
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Measuring The Digital Divide. Prepared by: Les Cottrell SLAC , Shahryar Khan NIIT/SLAC , Jared Greeno SLAC , Qasim Lone NIIT/SLAC Presentation to Princess Sumaya of Jordan on the occasion of her visit to SLAC, January 18, 2008. Agenda. Why do we Measure?

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Measuring The Digital Divide

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Measuring the digital divide

Measuring The Digital Divide

Prepared by: LesCottrellSLAC,

Shahryar KhanNIIT/SLAC, Jared GreenoSLAC, Qasim LoneNIIT/SLAC

Presentation to Princess Sumaya of Jordan

on the occasion of her visit to SLAC,

January 18, 2008



  • Why do we Measure?

  • Methodology of measuring Internet performance

  • Overall Internet performance of the world today

  • Validation against other measurements

  • Conclusions & further information

Why measure

Why Measure?

  • In the Information Age Information Technology (IT) is the major productivity and development driver.

  • Lower investment than in Industrial age (just network & computer vs. roads, railways, ports, machine shops etc.)

  • Travel & the Internet have made a global viewpoint critical

  • One Laptop Per Child ($100 computer)

    • New thin client paradigm, servers do work, requires networking (Google: “Negroponte $100 computer”)

    • Enables “Internet Kiosk & Cafe” can make big difference

  • So we need to understand and set expectations on the accessibility, performance, costs etc. of the Internet



  • Use SLAC led PingER project:

    • Arguably the world’s most extensive Active End-to-End Internet Monitoring project

Pinger methodology

PingER Methodology

Uses ubiquitous ping

>ping remhost




a server)




10 ping request packets each 30 mins

Once a Day

Ping response packets

Data Repository @ SLAC

Measure Round Trip Time & Loss

Pinger deployment

PingER Deployment

  • PingER project originally (1995) for measuring network performance for US, Europe and Japanese HEP community - now mainly R&E sites

  • Extended this century to measure Digital Divide:

    • Collaboration with International Centre for Theoretical Studies, Trieste

    • International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA)

  • >150 countries (99% world’s connected population)

    • 2 monitoring stations in Palestine, working with SESAME

  • Monitor (40 in 14 countries)

  • Beacons ~ 90

  • Remote sites (~700)

World measurements min rtt from us

World Measurements: Min RTT from US

  • Maps show increased coverage

  • Min Round Trip Time (RTT) indicates best possible, i.e. no queuing

  • >600ms probably geo-stationary satellite

  • Between developed regions min-RTT dominated by distance

    • Little improvement possible

  • Only a few places still using satellite for international access, mainly Africa & Central Asia




World throughput

World throughput

Derived throughput ~ 8 * 1460 /(RTT * sqrt(loss))

Mathis et. al

World divides into 3:

Europe, US/Canada, E. Asia, Australia/NZ

L America, SE Asia, M East

S & C Asia & Africa

Behind Europe

6 Yrs: Russia, Latin America 7 Yrs: Mid-East, SE Asia

10 Yrs: South Asia

11 Yrs: Cent. Asia

12 Yrs: Africa

South Asia, Central Asia, and Africa are in Danger of Falling Even Farther Behind

Sesame www sesame org jo


  • SESAME will have scientists collaborating from the Middle East and across the world.

  • Success will depend on the computer network performance

    • Transfer of data

    • Meetings, VoIP, video

    • Experiment access & control

    • Sharing information & ideas…

  • Working with SESAME (Hafeez Hoorani) to set up measurements & analysis at SESAME in Jordan

    • Focused on SESAME’s needs

  • Already have collaborations with other SESAME countries:

    • National University of Sciences & Technology Pakistan

    • Palestine: Al Quds University, Jerusalem & Islamic University of Gaza



  • Many indices from ITU, UNDP, CIA, World Bank try to classify countries by their development

    • Difficult: what can be measured, how useful is it, how well defined, how changes with time, does it change country to country, cost of measuring, takes time to gather & often out of date, subjective

    • Typically use GDP, life expectancy, literacy, education, phone lines, Internet penetration etc.

    • E.g. HDI, DOI, DAI, NRI, TAI, OI .. In general agree with one another (R2~0.8)

  • Given importance of Internet in enabling development in the Information age some metrics we can measure:

    • International bandwidth

    • Number of hosts, number of Autonomous Systems

    • PingER Internet performance

  • See if agree with development indices.

    • If not may point to bad PingER data or illuminate reasons for differences

    • If agree quicker, cheaper to get, continuous, not as subjective

    • Working to extend PingER coverage (120=>156 countries, 45 in Africa)

Mid east neighbors

Mid. East &Neighbors

HDI related to GDP, life expectancy, tertiary education etc.

  • There is a good correlation between the 2 measures

  • Big diversity (factor 10) between Mid East countries

  • Mid East similar to North Africa

  • E. Africa poor, limited by satellite access

  • W. Africa big differences, some (Senegal) can afford SAT3 fibre others use satellite

  • Great diversity between & within regions

Digital opportunity index itu 2006

Digital Opportunity Index (ITU 2006)

  • 180 countries, recent (data 2005, announce 2006), full coverage 2004-2005, 40 leaders have 2001-2005

  • 11 indicators:

    • (Coverage by mobile telephony, Internet tariffs, #computers, fixed line phones, mobile subscribers, Internet users)/population

  • Working with ITU to see if PingER can help.

    • Add countries

      • 130>150

    • Increase coverage

Correlation loss vs itu doi

Correlation Loss vs ITU/DOI

  • Good correlation, Africa worst off



  • Poor performance affects data transfer, multi-media, VoIP, IT development & country performance / development

  • Digital Divide exists between regions, within regions, within countries, rural vs cities, between age groups…

  • Decreasing use of satellites, expensive, but still needed for many remote countries in Africa and C. Asia

  • Last mile problems, and network fragility

  • International Exchange Points needed

  • Progressive policies (transparency, competition, education …

  • Internet performance (non subjective, relatively easy/quick to measure) correlate strongly with economic/technical/development indices

    • Increase coverage of monitoring to understand Internet performance

More information

More Information

  • PingER Project:


  • Report on Digital Divide:


  • Acronym Glossary (Google for more information):

    • DAI, NRI, TAI, OI = various economic development indices

    • DOI = Digital Opportunity Index

    • GDP = Gross Domestic Product

    • HDI = Human Development Index

    • HEP = High Energy Physics

    • IT = Information Technology

    • ITU = International Telecommunications Union

    • R&E = Research and Education

    • RTT = Round Trip Time

    • SAT3 = A fibre system connecting the W. Coast of Africa

    • UNDP = United Nations Development Programme

    • VoIP = Voice over IP

    • WIS = World Information Society

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