Linux, politics, and other interesting things
In a comment on my post about (relatively) Cheap Net Access in Australia  sin from Romania said “Somebody needs to whack the aussie ISP in the head with a cluebat. The prices that you pay are insane“.
In Eastern Europe you have optic fibers from Germany and other western European countries that carry vast amounts of data. As the demand for capacity increases it’s not THAT difficult to lay more fibers. You also have competition between different companies that lay fiber. To get data to Australia you must lay cables under the sea, this is expensive and can’t be done quickly. Therefore all international data transfers are expensive to cover the expense of laying the cables. I don’t think that we have any real competition in the market for International connectivity from Australia either.
Now the links between Europe and the US aren’t cheap either, but I believe that there are economies of scale (as well as shorter distances) that make them significantly cheaper than the links to Australia.
Also a good portion of the traffic that you generate as a customer of a European ISP will stay within Europe as there are heaps of good sites in Europe. The number of people living in Europe who speak English as their first language is more than twice that of Australia. The number of Europeans who communicate in English almost as fluently as the native speakers (such as about half the population of the Netherlands) is also quite significant. I expect that the amount of English-language material on the net that is published from the EU is more than three times greater than the quantity published from Australia. People who speak languages that have a more limited geographic spread (IE anything other than English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese) will have a higher portion of local traffic which is therefore cheaper for their ISP. So based on the relative population sizes we should expect to have Australians making a higher portion of their Internet bandwidth be expensive international data transfers than that of Europeans.
Then of course there is the issue of server costs. Running servers in Australia is horribly expensive, while user access to the net is merely annoyingly expensive, the costs of hosting servers are significant – and usually the offers have slower hardware and slower transfers (particularly to the important US and EU markets). My blog is hosted in Germany because the company that was offering me free hosting in Australia encouraged me to host it elsewhere due to the price. Also hosting in Germany gives me slightly lower ping times to the US and significantly lower ping times to Europe. As about half the readers of my blog are based in the US, a significant quantity of the readers are based in the EU, and Australia only contains a small portion of the readers the overall experience for readers of my blog is improved by having it hosted outside Australia. It would be better to have it hosted in the US (where most of my readers are located) but I was offered free hosting in the EU.
It would be nice if there was a cheap and easy way of getting a mirror of my blog running in Australia with Geo-DNS so that people using Australian IP addresses would get a local server. Putting the static images on an Australian server would be trivial, setting up Geo-DNs would be painful and probably increase reliability issues later on but isn’t insurmountable (I have root on both DNS servers). The Debian blog gives some basic information on how to setup GeoDNS . Then I would need to set up a MySQL slave for WordPress data and modify WordPress to send it’s writes to the master server – which is probably impossible for me unless someone else has already written a WordPress plugin for this, I’m really not good at PHP programming. Another possibility would be one of the WordPress cache plugins that maintain static files to avoid needless database lookups.
Until/unless I do such things, every Australian reader of my web site (and those of my friends who do similar things to me regarding hosting) will slightly tilt the balance of Internet transfers in favor of expensive data from foreign servers instead of cheap content from local servers.
Sometimes it just sucks to live on an island.