Internet Performance Delivered right to your inbox

Satellite Service Sets in Lebanon


Early last month, my blog “Pinning Down Latency” included this prediction:

In the coming weeks we expect to see a dramatic shift in transit as Lebanese providers move away from expensive and high-latency satellite service to IMEWE-based service.

Well, it didn’t take long for this to play out.

As illustrated below, Lebanese providers Cyberia (AS24634) and TerraNet (AS39010) wasted no time dropping satellite provider SatGate (AS30721) as a means of primary Internet transit – colored green in the charts below. In these stacked charts, a taller band of color at a given point in time corresponds to a larger share of transit.

24634_LB.png 39010_LB2.png


Looking at the graph on the right, IncoNet Data (AS9051) has greatly reduced their transit through SatGate (in green in the graph), but not completely eliminated it. 9051_LB.png
Virtual ISP (AS35197) which serves high-profile domains such as the website of the Lebanese President has shifted from exclusively using satellite via InSat (AS20535), in green, to exclusively using submarine cable via Liban Telecom (AS42020), in blue. 35197_LB.png
Finally, we observe the ongoing reduction in latencies to Lebanon due to the move away from satellite and onto the IMEWE submarine cable. This improvement has held steady since we first reported on it blog last month. In the visualization to the right, latencies into Lebanon separate into two modes based on delivery medium: asymmetric satellite (primarily via SatGate, AS30710, in green) and submarine (primarily via Level3, AS3356, in blue). latencies_Lebanon_London_GB_s2.png
These dramatic changes in Lebanon mimic shifts we have observed in other parts of the world when submarine cables are activated in markets primarily served by satellite. As one of many examples, consider the situation in the landlocked country of Uganda in 2009. Prior to the arrival of the Seacom cable via an extension through Kenya, Uganda was exclusively dependent on satellite Internet. Once the cable arrived, incumbent Uganda Telecom (AS21491) abruptly shifted transit away from SkyVision (AS8513 and AS25228), Intelsat (AS22351), and Gilat Satcom (AS12491), and almost entirely onto Interoute (AS8928). 21491_UG.png

For Lebanon, capitalizing on inexpensive low-latency connectivity should pay dividends for an economy previously handicapped by the limitations of satellite. In what could be seen as a sign of such progress, current and former Lebanese prime ministers confronted each other over Twitter in recent days.
More broadly the moral of the story is that for any market where satellite providers are still dominant, these providers are always one cable activation away from relegation to a back-up service — at best.

Share Now

Doug Madory
Whois: Doug Madory

Doug Madory is a Director of Internet Analysis at Oracle Dyn where he works on Internet infrastructure analysis projects. Doug has a special interest in mapping the logical Internet to the physical lines that connect it together, with a focus on submarine cables.