Visualizing the Middle Mile

By Erik KreifeldtJun 10, 2021


Our quest to bring middle mile understanding to the masses continues.

This time we've prepared something for our visual learners.

As of late, enterprise network service providers have adopted the “middle mile” term. This still refers to the network segment between the access and destination network. But rather than access to the internet backbone and content linked to it at large, the destination is apt to be a more discrete service host, usually a cloud service provider network.

Access remains consistent but focused on enterprise locations. (For more in-depth analysis, you can watch my presentation from earlier this year.)

But more importantly, here's what all of that looks like:

Finding Some Middle Ground
Middle Mile Network Overview

MM Visualized

There are many ways to traverse the link between user and application over the WAN. Looking at our clever schematic of the basic network segments, let’s explore them left to right:

  • Last Mile: Local access connects an enterprise location to the nearest colocation facility. Traffic may cascade through local aggregation points
  • Middle Mile: Switching and transport that shepherds traffic between the local access colocation and the cloud service provider network. 
  • First Mile: This is the cloud provider or other destination network. Traffic is now on-net with the application host
  • Internet: Traverses these Layer 1 & 2 segments at Layer 3


For deeper analysis of middle mile, peruse TeleGeography's Internet Middle Mile research service


TeleGeography's SD-WAN Guide

Erik Kreifeldt

Erik Kreifeldt

Principal Analyst Erik Kreifeldt tracks the international network services industry, advising global operators on market trends. With more than 20 years of industry experience—including over a decade of research with TeleGeography—he specializes in strategic decisions that require genuine data, analysis, and insight. Before joining TeleGeography, Erik was an optical networking industry analyst, trade reporter, and optical physics science writer. He continues to draw inspiration from the profound-yet-underappreciated work of maintaining infrastructure essential for global commerce—and awe at how it all gets done.

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