Exploring the internet

The Internet

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life and an integral part of most of modern economy in developed countries. Through the Internet we can communicate with our loved ones, we can buy what we need and we can even create a business.

From the inside, from the core, the Internet its amazing: its a massive network of connections between organizations all around the world. With submarine cables, satellites and tons of hardware and software to create the biggest communication network known to mankind, covering the entire world.

At Datract we have been collecting data about how the Internet is interconnected during the last months to do some basic data exploration and create some basic visualizations on how the internet is constructed, which countries are best connected, the amount of IP addresses assigned to each country, etc.

How the Internet is organized

This massive network of connections has no central authority, its just companies and organizations creating agreements to exchange data. They use the BGP protocol to coordinate and collaborate to create the entire Internet.

Companies creates agreements to let other companies to go through them to reach other parts of the Internet in exchange of money (transit) or in exchange of the other party doing the same (peering).


The only regulation comes from the ICANN, a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. Basically ICANN assigns Internet Addresses, among other things.

Organizations operating on the Internet can use different strategies to reach the entire Internet, since directly connecting to any organization in the Internet is extremely costly and practically inefficient, most organizations creates agreements to other well connected organizations that in exchange for money let them reach any part of the Internet, and then seek for agreements of peering (free) with local organizations that could be interested in the mutual benefit of not going through a paid intermediary.

Years of agreements, cables and lots of economical and politic interests have created what is the Internet today and how each organization reach the rest of the Internet.

Our first goal exploring the Internet using publicly available data, was to create aninteractive graph visualization representing all the interconnections between Internet companies and organizations all around the world.

We created a graph, were the size of the nodes represents how many connections the node has, and the color of the edges represents the country of the organization.

So basically, its a photo of the Internet as it is now.

Warning: this visualization requires lots of CPU Power and memory to work.

The entire internet graph
Click to open the interactive internet graph

Who can become part of the Internet network

Each country has different laws on who can become part of the Internet, for example more economical liberal countries just ask you to register a company/organization, pay some taxes/fees and follow some rules for you to become directly to the Internet, later you can use this connection to the Internet to sell Internet to consumers or for lots of other reasons.

However, in more controlled countries, like china, only the government or government related organizations can directly connect to the Internet, the rest of the organizations simply pay for Internet access from this government organizations but are not allowed to be directly connected to the rest of the Internet or to establish peering or transit agreements with other organizations.

We have created an interactive where you can select a country and view the connections to other countries. You can check the percentage of the world connected to your country. We have found very interisting things using this interactive map!

Map of internet country interconnections
Click to open the interactive map of Internet countries

To better show which countries are best interconnected to the rest of the world, we have created an interactive visualization with a graph including all countries. The size of the nodes represents the ammount of countries connected to the node. Better connected countries are near the center, while countries with few external connections are drawn far from the center.

Map of internet country interconnections
Click to open the interactive map of Internet countries

Internet addresses: a scarce resource

Each computer connected to the Internet uses an I.P. address. The I.P. address is the number that identifies a computer in the entire Internet. There are 2^32 possible Internet addresses, that is 4.294.967.296 possible devices connected to the Internet directly. The ICANN assigns blocks of I.P. addresses to entire countries, so the country can use them.

Each country decides how to use their addresses, most countries sell the I.P. addresses to Internet companies or organizations. Other countries decide to control all the addresses available for them, so the Internet can only be accessed through/by the government.

Internet organizations are collaborating to update their software/hardware to be able to use longer addresses in the future, called IPV6 addresses. This change is not trivial given the size and decentralized organization of the Internet.

For the moment, there are 2^32 I.P. addresses and its becoming a very scarce resource…

We have created an interactive visualization to see which countries get more addresses and in what proportion. Bogus addresses are addresses that for technical reasons can not be assigned to any country.

Graph with addresses per country
Click to open the interactive I.P. country assignations graph

You can click in any continent to see the amount of IP addresses inside the continent. Countries with very few addresses have been removed from the graph.

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