Home / Knowledge Hub / What is guides / What is an Internet backbone ranking?

What is an Internet backbone ranking?

Why rank Internet backbones?

Backbone rankings typically assess quality based on a number of relevant criteria, aiming to provide valuable information to users by offering a comprehensive impression of a particular network. Internet ranking is a fairly complex process requiring an assessment of many performance parameters.

To simplifying things somewhat, Internet backbone performance is typically evaluated on various key factors, including speed, coverage, capacity, security, scalability, peering, latency, and cost. Together, these elements contribute to the overall effectiveness and reliability of backbone infrastructure. Ultimately, backbone rankings provide an indication as to how well-connected different Internet backbones are.

Speed – the ability to carry data traffic quickly without interruption. Backbones with faster speeds and greater capacity can handle data traffic more efficiently, reducing congestion.

Capacity – a backbone’s ability to manage big data volumes.

Coverage - geographical presence and reach. A backbone that spans a broader global or national area is generally considered more robust.

Scalability –a backbone’s capacity to efficiently handle increased traffic when necessary. In other words, the infrastructure is designed to be flexible and adaptable, ready for quick adjustments.

Security – fundamental security measures include encryption, DDoS protection, and network monitoring capabilities. A backbone with robust security features would indeed rank higher.

Peering connections –backbones with well-developed peering ecosystems can provide broader coverage and more efficient routing, also contributing to their higher ranking in the Internet hierarchy.

Latency – low latency is directly correlated with higher speed, and as a result, backbones with low latency are often ranked more favourably.

Reliability – often assessed through uptime, which offers a realistic overview of backbone quality and efficiency. A backbone with consistently high uptime is considered more reliable.

Cost-efficiency – Although not directly tied to technical performance, cost matters. Consider pricing structures, value-added services, and overall cost when evaluating backbones.

Development – Continuous development is essential for maintaining a strong foundation. It’s not a matter of choice and involves constantly adapting to new technologies and trends.

Customer Satisfaction – Customer satisfaction encompasses professional support, product quality, performance, and reliability. Various surveys gauge customer satisfaction, providing valuable insights about Internet service provider performance.

Read more

Who ranks Internet Tier-1 providers?

There isn’t a single centralized authority or organization responsible for ranking Internet backbones. However, several organizations gather data and statistics related to Tier-1 providers. While the main criteria are outlined in the previous chapter, the actual assessment process is more intricate. It involves extensive tracking, analytics, surveys, market presence evaluation, and insights.

Some entities, including TeleGeography, Dyn research, various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) contribute with valuable insights and information, which is subsequently used for ranking purposes.

CAIDA (Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis) - a research organization dedicated to analyzing and comprehending the Internet backbone’s structure. CAIDA doesn’t generate traditional rankings, but it provides important Internet measurement data, including topology and traffic analysis, as well as security parameters.

Dyn/Renesys - now part of Oracle, is renowned for its research and analysis of Internet performance, infrastructure, and security. While they don’t create traditional Internet provider rankings, they offer a range of products and services that provide valuable insights into Internet performance, traffic patterns, and connectivity.

  • Internet Intelligence: Dyn’s Internet Intelligence platform monitors global Internet traffic, providing real-time insights into performance and availability. It tracks metrics like network latency, packet loss, and DNS resolution times.
  • DNS services: Dyn offers managed DNS (Domain Name System) services. By analyzing DNS traffic patterns and efficiently resolving DNS queries, Dyn ensures fast and reliable domain name resolution.
  • Traffic analysis: Dyn’s products include tools for analyzing Internet traffic patterns, including DDoS attacks and botnet activity. Monitoring traffic flows and identifying anomalies helps organizations detect and mitigate security threats.
  • Internet insights reports: Dyn publishes research reports and whitepapers on Internet performance, traffic trends, and security threats. These insights inform stakeholders about global Internet infrastructure, routing dynamics, and emerging risks.



Kentik – an organization very similar to Dyn, due to its focus on network analytics providing real-time network visibility, traffic analysis, and DDoS detection and mitigation.

  • Real-time network visibility: Kentik’s platform provides real-time visibility of network traffic. This helps network operators and IT teams understand network performance and identify potential issues or anomalies.
  • Traffic analysis and optimization: By analyzing traffic flows and pinpointing congestion points or bottlenecks, Kentik helps organizations to optimize their network infrastructure for efficient data transmission and an improved user experience.
  • Cloud and hybrid cloud visibility: By providing traffic flow visibility across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid cloud, Kentik helps organizations to monitor and manage network traffic, ensuring consistent performance and security.
  • Insightful reporting and analytics: Thanks to Kentik’s customizable dashboards, reports, and analytics tools that offer insights into network performance, security posture, and usage trends, organizations can optimize their network infrastructure to meet individual business needs.
Read more

What does it mean being the number one-ranked Tier-1 Internet provider?

When discussing this it’s essential to look back into Internet history. Tier-1 organizations played a pivotal role in shaping today’s Internet, establishing its hierarchical structure. These organizations are now widely regarded as industry leaders. Their global networks include Points of Presence (PoPs) that provide extensive coverage, often spanning continents with direct connections. As a result, their network quality stands out with low latency, high speed, and impressive capacity. Moreover, Tier-1 organizations lead Internet innovation, by setting new standards for network infrastructure.

Here are the key differentiators for Tier-1 providers:

  • Direct connectivity – Tier-1 to Tier-1 connectivity is free of charge via settlement free peering, i.e. no paid-for upstream transit as it is the case for Tier-2 and Tier-3.
  • Global reach – coverage across multiple continents with strategically located PoPs
  • High speed and capacity
  • Peering connections – a large peering and customer network allows efficient and speedy delivery of traffic whilst keeping traffic firmly on the Tier 1 network as much as possible.
  • Reliability – robust and stable networks
Read more

Arelion – #1 Tier-1 Internet provider

As a Tier-1 provider, Arelion has consistently met the stringent requirements for uncompromised Internet quality. This commitment has contributed to its persistently high global ranking. While we won’t list all the organizations involved, some have been instrumental in assessing Arelion’s performance.

Since 2017, Arelion’s Internet backbone has consistently held the top position. Initially ranked #1 by Dyn, it continued its impressive performance, securing the top spot for seven consecutive years, as confirmed by Kentik.

Arelion, as one of the largest and most prominent Tier-1 Internet backbone providers globally, boasts extensive network infrastructure. The company’s impressive fiber optic network spans Europe, North America and Asia.

Arelion offers a comprehensive suite of Internet backbone services, including IP transit, DIA, Ethernet services, Wavelength services, and robust DDoS protection. While specific rankings can vary based on different measurement criteria and industry perspectives, Arelion is widely regarded as a leading player in the Internet backbone market.

Arelion’s main strengths as a Tier-1 Internet backbone provider include:

  1. Global network infrastructure: Arelion operates an extensive fiber-optic network spanning multiple continents, with over 350+ PoPs and more than 75,000 kilometres of fiber optic cable.
  2. High-speed connectivity: Arelion delivers high-speed Internet connectivity and low-latency services, offering IP transit, DIA, Ethernet services, Wavelength services, fiber optics
  3. Peering relationships: Arelion has established extensive peering relationships worldwide, efficiently exchanging traffic with other major networks, ISPs, content providers, and Internet exchange points (IXPs).
  4. Reliability and uptime: Arelion prioritizes reliability and uptime, designing network infrastructure for redundancy and resilience to minimize disruptions in service.
  5. Innovation: Arelion invests in technology and stays at the forefront of Internet infrastructure by embracing emerging technologies and industry standards.
  6. Broad appeal: Serving ISPs, content providers, enterprises, government agencies, and telecommunications operators, Arelion’s high-quality services enable reliable and efficient global connectivity to businesses of all sizes (from startups to Fortune 1000) across diverse industry verticals.
Read more

Can't find what you need?

Contact our experts for help.

Contact us It's okay, just scrolling.