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The interesting and ever-changing case of connectivity in China

The complexities — in general

China Internet PenetrationWe often get asked about varying connectivity and ping rates between end users and the sites that we host. This is especially true with our customers that do business worldwide.

We developed our PowerCast product as an answer to the growing market in the AsiaPac region — specifically focused on global customers looking for superior geographic performance serving multiple markets worldwide. It has been very successful.

But when evaluating which datacenter or datacenters to use for your sites and applications, it is important to remember that “internet distance” is not the same as physical distance, and the quality of connectivity between points can be problematic as previously underdeveloped geographic networks are built up.

This means that varying build dates, standards, and even governmental regulation in the communities impact internet distance and speeds. And then there are “last mile issues.” Last mile issues are the impacts of the smaller internet service providers and the quality of their networks.

An additional aspect of last mile issues in service are transit agreements and internet exchanges. In the United States, all traffic is carried neutrally (at least in theory, which is why “net neutrality” is a hot topic and worth your support). But this is actually not the way most of the world works.

PQ - China ConnectivityIn most of Southeast Asia and the European Union, various networks enter into agreements with each other to cooperate in a quasi-internet-free-trade zones (exchange agreements) or to allow traffic from other carriers and exchanges to pass through (transit agreements). Traffic from one carrier may be rerouted far afield to avoid crossing lines controlled by companies, individuals, and / or governments where no agreement exists.

Lastly, some governmental agencies require certain traffic (sometimes all, sometimes just “some”) to flow in a certain path for reasons of regulation, control, or surveillance.

We have seen rare instances where ping sources only a few kilometers apart have experienced vastly different results. In the case of our PowerCasting product, this sometimes means traffic is being routed to datacenter nodes on different continents based upon all of this. The EU has largely worked all of these things out and we see few anomalies. AsiaPac is a different matter.


China specifically

Without regard to the politics and general economics of the Chinese governmental structures, China has been late to the game in adopting (read: “allowing”) internet access to its people. In fact, in all of the AsiaPac region, only Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and North Korea are behind China. But things have gotten much better and are continuing to improve. Indeed, the East Coast of China has solid adoption, perhaps not surprisingly lead by Hong Kong and Shanghai, with substantial penetration in Beijing.

You can see on the second map (below) that these coastal areas also have direct internet ports of debarkation — specifically Hong Kong, the nearby Guangdong, and Shanghai.


AsiaPac Submarine Internet Cables "Internet Distance" can create some strange anomalies when factoring ping rates, particularly when examining China and the encompassing coastal sea region.


But even traffic emanating directly from these port cities may, at times, be redirected inland before being allowed to proceed on its journey.

But it can get stranger still when you examine the submarine cabling once internet traffic leaves the China shore. As you may be able to see, traffic leaving Shanghai has a fairly direct path to Singapore, and from there on to Brisbane — the location of our AsiaPac hosting and PowerCasting nodes. However, traffic from Fuzhou has a less direct course, and therefore has a longer internet distance to Brisbane even though it is physically close (further south along the same coast).

Lastly, and worth mentioning, the China-US Cable Network (CUCN) continues to grow, adding more direct links to San Francisco and Seattle, shortening this transit time. In addition, an updated cable tying Hong Kong directly to Guam, which then has a direct tie into Brisbane, is worth keeping an eye on.

All of these things impact ping rates out of China. It is a very dynamic environment. is committed to continuing to serve this important market and this will be a focus of our growth plans going forward. We will keep our customers informed of relevant developments as they occur.




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