Half the Internet in Bankruptcy
Monday, July 22, 2002
At the risk of jumping on an already sensationalized topic, we feel
obligated to point out the technical repercussions inherent in
WorldCom's recent bankruptcy
declaration. Though there is much to grouse about politically and
financially, it is important to note that the WorldCom bankruptcy could have
a profound impact on the Internet.
After all, according to this
story, over half of the U.S. Internet traffic moves through
WorldCom equipment, including 70% of the e-mail. In conjunction with other
notable bankruptcies, such as
Global Crossing, another of the
world's largest telecommunications companies, and
Exodus, the world's largest web site
hosting company, the Internet would seem to be in a very precarious state.
It is noted that WorldCom also handles 50% of the e-mail sent world wide.
However, it is not just international companies based out of the U.S. that
make this a global issue as telecommunications companies across the planet
are folding. Most notably, KPNQwest
and its subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy just two months ago. KPNQwest
handled over half the Internet traffic in Europe.
In rather ominous tones, the KPNQwest web site reads:
"During this week you can already expect outages to happen that we cannot
solve any more. At the end of this week we expect that larger parts of the
network will be down."
Nevertheless, it is important to note that, aside from sporadic issues
arising out of the KPNQwest bankruptcy, Europeans have yet to experience any
show stopping problems.
The Internet, conceived during the heyday of the Cold War, is meant to
prevent outages -- even large scale outages -- in one section from affecting
other sections. Specifically, if a piece of the Internet fails
-- even half of the Internet -- the other half should remain relatively
intact and functional.
This doesn't mean that the Internet will continue to function as normal for
everyone. Should WorldCom simply close its doors (which isn't likely), a
great number of companies could be cut off from the Internet until they
could get connectivity from a WorldCom competitor. What is more likely in
the near term is that WorldCom will continue to operate in bankruptcy.
However, the problems it is experiencing and the solutions it is
implementing (such as laying off 28% of its work force) will no doubt affect
WorldCom's services and customer support.
Nevertheless, most analysts don't expect anything as drastic as the notices
posted on the KPMQwest site. In fact, the KPMQwest web site was updated just
this past week:
"Originally we planned to shut down the KPNQwest international backbone at
the 19th of July. Since there is good progress with negotiations that can
result in a restart of the business we have not shut down the network but
left it unmanaged instead. However from now there is no staff available in
the office to attend to customer issues. "
Though not exactly good news, this is no doubt encouraging for KPNQwest
customers and Europe in general. Meanwhile, Global Crossing continues to
operate in bankruptcy, and it appears as if WorldCom will be joining it.