Most likely, it means one of a handful of telecommunications providers is middlemanning your information from Point A to Point B. Fire off an email or a tweet, broadcast a livestream or upload video to YouTube, and you’re relying on vast networks of fiber optic cables deep underground and undersea, working with satellites high above, to move your data around the world, and to bring the world to your fingertips.
It’s an infrastructure largely out of sight and mind. AT&T, Level 3, Hurricane Electric, Tata Indicom – to most these are simply invisible magicians performing the act of getting one online and kicking. To many open-source advocates, however, these are a few of the big, dirty names responsible for what they see as the Web’s rapid consolidation. The prospect of an irreparably centralized Internet, a physical Internet in the hands of a shrinking core of so-called Tier 1 transit networks, keeps Isaac Wilder up at night.
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