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Localized Net traffic headed to the U.S.

European Internet traffic is becoming more localized, according to a new study. Probe Research predicts that emerging broadband services are likely to carry this trend to the United States.

A new study by Probe Research found that, contrary to the global nature of the Internet, European Internet traffic is becoming more localized, and emerging broadband services are likely to carry this trend to the United States.

Tony Marson, research director of Internet traffic for the Cedar Knolls, N.J.-based firm Probe Research, said that in European countries, much of the Internet traffic stays within each country's borders. For example, he said that 60% of all Internet traffic generated in Sweden ends there. In Spain, he said, 80% of all the Spanish language content is hosted in Madrid.

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This trend in Europe is due in part to technical needs: technical expertise and facilities tend to be clustered in the major urban centers. For example, Madrid draws so much content because it is a large business center and because of the abundance of long-haul bandwidth there, he said. Language also plays an important role. Italian-language content is generally produced by Italian companies for an Italian audience.

The U.S. market has different dynamics and, as a result, traffic is less localized here. Bandwidth is so cheap in the United States that most companies are not concerned about the location of their content, Marson said.

But that is likely to change.

Marson said that in the next three to five years, broadband services such as video on demand will began to hit the market. When that happens, consumers will not tolerate the kind of latency that can occur over long-distance transmissions. As a result, it will be necessary to begin caching content closer to users.

He points to Singapore as an example. Broadband services like video on demand are now available to consumers there. He said that to provide high quality video, some apartment buildings have servers in the basement where the video is cached.

Corporate users will also begin to generate more local traffic, Marson said. As storage networks become IP-based, there will be an increase in the amount of IP traffic that stays local in the United States.

As a result, companies that provide these services may end up spending more to store their content in multiple locations closer to the end user.

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