You might be surprised to learn that most of the internet lives in a series of digital hotel. It’s not a lavish environment and there is certainly no room service, but these places are known as Carrier Hotels and NYC photographer Peter Garritano recently went to five unique locations to do an expose on some of the physical embodiment of the web at the deepest levels. Before doing the project, Peter had an idea of what these large data storage and connection centers would be like, but visiting them and photographing them has given him a new perspective on what the internet is and how it is constructed one fiber at a time.
What is a carrier hotel exactly? Wired Magazine sheds some light on the subject in their article on Garritano’s project. It’s a place where “AT&T’s network can hook up with Verizon’s network. Verizon’s network can connect with Google’s network” and far beyond. Originally carrier hotels were for hooking up big internet providers, but more and more these days large tech companies are creating their own networks in order to run apps and programs that use a lot of data like AI and deep learning programs. Other internet companies, including hosting companies like NationalNet tie in to these trunks and end users reach their data through a mind-boggling number of portals simultaneously.
Unsurprisingly, these locations are kept securely under lock and key with a great deal of privacy about their locations. Garritano had to work hard to get entrance into these places, and even then he was subjected to high security screenings. There are biometric security checkpoints and even traps to contend with when you enter one of these facilities, in addition to the more usual security guards and cameras. It’s nice to know that companies like Telx and Zayo really have the internet’s security in mind. Once you get past all that security, it’s pretty mundane inside, as Peter’s photos will show. Miles of cable, large cooling devices, and a security escort making sure that the internet maintained its status quo as Garritano photographed its inner workings. It’s a fascinating look from an outsiders perspective with visual depictions of the Internet unlike any you are likely to have seen elsewhere.