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How Foreign Networks are Changing Internet Landscape in Greece

Picture of Katerina Lionta
Guest Author | University of Crete
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November 21, 2023

The growth of Internet traffic has presented a significant challenge for large content and cloud providers (Hypergiants or HGs), which are constantly seeking innovative solutions to reduce latency and enhance user experience. Two solutions are deploying services and servers inside end-user networks (off-nets) and joining Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). 

In the first approach, HGs install servers inside other networks to serve users in those networks or their customers. This strategy localizes their content within the hosting network, reducing traffic crossing network boundaries.

The second approach involves establishing peer-to-peer connections with other networks via IXPs. These, in turn, lead to decreased response times and better overall performance.

IXPs are physical locations where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) share the costs of maintaining physical infrastructure and associated services. By exchanging traffic with each other at IXPs, companies reduce latency and fees, benefiting end users. Learn more about the number of IXPs in Greece via the Pulse Country Reports.

The Number of Foreign Networks in Greece Has Increased by >1,000%

Recently, in collaboration with Prof. Xenofontas Dimitropoulos and George Nomikos at the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas, we examined the evolution of the Hypergiants’ off-nets and the presence of foreign networks in Greek IXPs and/or colocation facilities from 2013 to 2021. Foreign networks are those whose organizations’ headquarters are not in Greece. 

Figure 1 shows that the number of foreign (networks) ASes in Greek IXPs and/or colocation facilities has increased by 1,030% since 2013.

Bar chart showing the growth of foreign networks in Greek IXPs from 2013 to 2021.
Figure 1 – The number of foreign networks (ASes) in Greek IXPs and/or colocation facilities (2013-2021)

In addition to foreign networks, we observe that Akamai, Alibaba, Amazon, Cloudflare, Facebook, Google, and Netflix have off-nets in Greek networks, of which Google, Akamai, Facebook, and Netflix are responsible for 95% of the off-net server deployments. 

Further, in Figure 2, we can see that the number of Greek networks with an off-net presence has increased by 109% since 2013.

Line graph showing the number of Hypergiant off-nets in Greek networks.
Figure 2 – The number of Hypergiants’ off-nets in Greek networks

Further analysis uncovered that five major ISPs host Google and Akamai servers. The presence of the HGs across several Greek ISPs further enhances their resilience in the country. Learn more about Internet resilience in Greece.

This increase in off-nets indicates a dynamic and evolving Internet landscape in Greece and, in turn, Africa, Asia, and Europe, given Greece’s location (Figure 3) and geopolitical importance.

Map of Europe highlighting Greece.
Figure 3 – European map with a focus on Greece. Source: Wikimedia

This evolution could have implications for network planning, security considerations, and the overall adaptability of the infrastructure to changing demands.

Learn more about our research via our 2023 GRNOG presentation.

Katerina Lionta is a postgraduate student in the computer science department at the University of Crete and a visitor at the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH). The General Secretariat of Telecommunications and Posts funded this work.