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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

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