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I live in a small town in rural Nebraska. When I do a tracert from my home to the small college where I work it hops to Dallas, then Denver, and then Chicago before coming back here. That seems very odd to me, not to mention inefficient. But then, I have a completely different ISP at home, so I'm not even sure if it's all that unusual.

So, my questions are, is this even really a problem, as long as the packets do get where they're supposed to go? And since this is all upstream of anything I control, can I even do anything about it (aside from complaining to the ISPs involved) if it is?

The tracert looks like this:

  1     1 ms     1 ms     1 ms 
  2     2 ms     1 ms     1 ms 
  3     9 ms     9 ms     9 ms [] 
  4    21 ms     9 ms    10 ms [] 
  5    29 ms    30 ms    29 ms [] 
  6    34 ms    30 ms    30 ms [] 
  7    30 ms    30 ms    29 ms [] 
  8    42 ms    34 ms    34 ms [] 
  9    52 ms    52 ms    52 ms [] 
 10    52 ms    53 ms    53 ms [] 
 11    69 ms    68 ms    68 ms [] 
 12    74 ms    69 ms    69 ms [] 
 13    69 ms    68 ms    68 ms [] 
 14    69 ms    68 ms    71 ms [] 
 15    69 ms    69 ms    69 ms [] 
 16    87 ms    86 ms    86 ms [] 
 17    87 ms    85 ms    86 ms [] 
 18    86 ms    85 ms    85 ms [] 
 19    87 ms    86 ms    87 ms [] 

It's just weird, because I'll give good odds that the link between Denver and Chicago follows I-80, which means we're up to three passes right by the campus before it finally arrives (one on the way out of town, one going from denver to chicago, and the one back in from chicago).

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It all depends on how your local ISP is peered (i.e. who they have direct links to). It would appear that windstream do not have any peering with any other networks until you get to Dallas (Level 3), and for whatever reason Level 3 need to go to Denver, then Chicago before they were able to find a free route back to RoadRunner for your college.

This isn't really that unusual, and the main issue you need to look at is your latency. And seeing as all your latencies in the traceroute are < 100ms, compared to where I live (Sydney, Australia), this is exceptional. Here I would expect to see latencies of > 300ms in a rural area. Hell I get latency of > 100ms when contacting our datacentre only 2km away!

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It's not unusual and there isn't anything you can do about it. The path your packets take is dependent on your ISP's network and its upstream transit providers. It's not unusual for packets to take a fairly circuitous route to their destination.

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