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Senior Editor

Key Metrics for IP Networks

May 17, 20042 mins
ServersTechnology Industry

* Do the numbers matter to corporate customers

This week we examine some of the hot air network executives have to endure from service providers selling services.

Kidding aside, when it comes time to buy Internet services, network executives are inundated with measurements that service providers use to show the size and performance of their IP networks. 

Number of Points of Presence (POP); number of countries supported; amount of packets carried; number of domains connected: Service providers quote these and other measures to show that they have the largest or most expansive or most interconnected IP backbones.

But do any of these numbers really matter to corporate customers? Our Special Focus author this week ( answers this question and more as she takes a look at IP metrics.

First off, our author says corporate buyers must keep in mind that no standard methodology exists when it comes to measuring IP networks. No government agency or industry group publishes statistics about IP network size or performance. Instead, each ISP measures and publishes its own performance against its preferred metrics. So buyers have to be careful not to compare apples to oranges when it comes to Internet metrics.

Most top-tier ISPs have similar-sized network backbones – OC-192 pipes running at 10 gigabits/sec are the norm today – and they all deploy top-of-the-line routers from vendors such as Cisco or Juniper. So bandwidth or router size is not a likely differentiator.

Where buyers can find differentiation is in the geographic reach of various IP networks. Equant, for example boasts IP services in 145 countries. Another number that ISPs boast about is the number of IP POPs on their networks. MCI touts the fact that its global IP network features 4,500 company-owned POPs on six continents – all but Antarctica. This is the figure that MCI uses to claim that it runs the largest IP backbone in the world.

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