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Understanding “The Last Mile”

Internet Network

By Jayne MillerNov 16, 2016

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One tiny data packet has traveled the world. It’s made its way from Sydney, Australia all the way to London, traversing undersea cables to reach its intended destination.

But here’s something interesting: the (potentially) most expensive part of this data packet’s trip is only just beginning.

How could this be?

The Last Mile is what those in the know call the last leg of an info packet’s journey across networks, during which time telecommunications services reach the end-user.

For example: once an email from your colleague across the globe reaches the point of presence (POP) closest to you, that email still needs to get from that port to your laptop. The last mile is all about local access.

And while pricing varies across carriers and agreements, it’s not uncommon to see local access prices surpass long-haul costs. This means the physical line required for information to travel between a POP and an end-user could easily be more than what it cost for information to travel around the world to get to that POP in the first place.

If travel analogies are your thing, think of it this way: you’ve hopped a plane around the world and landed safely. But you’re not done yet. You still need to take a taxi home – and your taxi ride might cost more than your plane ticket.

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