Akamai Rejects al-Jazeera’s Business

Akamai Technologies won’t provide content delivery services for Arabic news network al-Jazeera’s Web site.

The media outlet contacted Akamai after its site was hobbled last week by heavy traffic and hackers. al-Jazeera has been criticized by U.S. and British governments for broadcasting images of coalition prisoners of war and for reports that are allegedly slanted to Iraq.

“Akamai worked briefly this week with al-Jazeera to understand the issues they are having distributing their Web sites,” the company said in a statement. “We ultimately decided not to continue a customer relationship with Al Jazeera, and we are not going to be providing them our services.”

Jeff Young, an Akamai spokesman, declined to say how much it lost by rejecting a longterm contract, or if any other deals had been scuttled.

The Cambridge, Mass., company stopped short of saying the move was political. Akamai has been cultivating deals with the federal government. For example, it currently powers the U.S. Army’s recruitment site.

In addition, Akamai CEO George Conrades serves on the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee, a board of industry and academic leader that advises President Bush on IT security.

The company, which uses a network of edge servers to store and transmit Web page data, counts MSNBC, CNN and Washington Post Interactive as media customers.

When war erupted, Akamai reportedly set a record for traffic load, handling 370,000 hits per second, compared to its previous mark of 290,000. It recently upgraded its bandwidth to handle the crush of requests.

The al-Jazeera flap is not the first time Akamai has been touched by geo-political events. The company’s CTO Danny Lewin, was a passenger aboard one of the doomed Sept. 11 flights.

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