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The Internet Networking

Internet Transit Provider Claims ISPs Deliberately Allow Port Congestion 210

An anonymous reader writes "Level 3, an internet transit provider, claimed in a recent blog post that six ISPs that it regularly does business with have refused to de-congest most of their interconnect ports. 'Congestion that is permanent, has been in place for well over a year and where our peer refuses to augment capacity.' Five of the six ISPs that Level 3 refers to are in the U.S., and one is in Europe. Not surprisingly, 'the companies with the congested peering interconnects also happen to rank dead last in customer satisfaction across all industries in the U.S. Not only dead last, but by a massive statistical margin of almost three standard deviations.' Ars Technica reports that ISPs have also demanded that transit providers like Level 3 pay for access to their networks in the same manner as fringe service providers like Netflix."
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Internet Transit Provider Claims ISPs Deliberately Allow Port Congestion

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  • What Level 3 can do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:10AM (#46928259) Homepage

    Is just to cut the connection to those ISPs and see how long they will be around.

    • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:16AM (#46928327)
      That would be terribly amusing. I can just imagine what a 'dark day' would do to those ISPs, though I suspect Level 3 has contracts that prevent it, which is sad.
      • by schnell ( 163007 )

        I can just imagine what a 'dark day' would do to those ISPs

        I'm not so sure about that. My guess is that the ISPs being referenced are themselves Tier 1 ISPs and don't rely on peering with Level(3) for anything other than connectivity to L3's own customers. They probably already peer with everyone else worth peering with, separately. So cutting that connection would probably hurt L3's customers far more than the other way around... which, I would guess, is the whole reason these ISPs aren't in a hurry to upgrade their connectivity to L3 in the first place: L3 has no

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          You do know that Level3 is far from a MonNPop, yes?

          • by schnell ( 163007 )

            Thanks, I am aware that Level(3) is not a mom-and-pop shop. But their market clout is still nothing compared to the largest consumer broadband ISPs and traditional Tier 1 networks, which in many cases globally are one and the same.

            Think about it: the big guys have their own peering relationships that go around L3, and most L3 customers (unless they are mom-and-pops themselves) get transit from more than one provider. So let's say Webhost X buys transit from L3 and Sprint. $BIGISP already peers with both L3

            • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:42PM (#46931877) Homepage Journal

              It is a bit karmic. I'm not claiming that L3 are just a great bunch of guys fighting the man or anything.

              However, L3 is a Tier 1. They have many massive datacenters for colo as well as an international network. The only thing they don't have is last mile networking.

              A fair bit of the internet would either go away or get much more expensive to reach if L3 cut off peering.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:20AM (#46928377) Homepage Journal

      Is just to cut the connection to those ISPs and see how long they will be around.

      But why are they peering with them if there are better routes available?

      The incentive structure on all these things is wrong. One neat thing the bitcoin network does is to attach a fee to each transaction that occurs (which is due to be reduced to reasonable levels soon - pay attention...).

      There's too much turmoil going on in Internet routing with regard to pricing now. Some sort of BGP extension that includes transit cost has to come along to make it all automatic and lowest-cost. It's really not much different than how power producers will bring capacity online when the market demands or when they have excess capacity they need to get rid of. The dam near me has a realtime market price terminal they watch to see when to open the gates, but Internet providers would just automate the whole thing, and then the transit pricing wars would shake out. I wouldn't mind seeing it extended to the last mile either, though with monopoly protection in place there would need to be some very reasonable connection fee floor and controls on fees, since competition can't impose those controls. But one of the ways we encourage lowest-cost is with efficient protocols and there's very little incentive to demand that from the end user right now.

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:34AM (#46928503)

        But why are they peering with them if there are better routes available?

        ISPs hold a monopoly on their customers, there is no other way to get to their network.

        • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:48AM (#46928677) Journal
          ISPs hold a monopoly on their customers, there is no other way to get to their network.

          ISPs only have customers because of peerage agreements that let their customers get to the rest of the internet.

          Any two-bit ISP (and in this context, that includes even the likes of Comcast) that thinks they can twist L3's arm has one hell of a nasty surprise waiting for them when their current contracts expire. This doesn't work quite the same as not getting to see this week's episode of Glee because of a pissing contest between cable companies and content providers - A week where Comcast customers can't get to Por... er... Google, means a week where Comcast loses half its customer base.
          • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:51AM (#46928711) Homepage

            90% of comcast customers are held hostage, they CANT GO ANYWHERE ELSE for internet.
            This is what happens when you have a government sponsored and allowed monopoly.

            • In my market, this is getting shaken up. Qwest is expanding and doing quite well. When they did my street, I dumped Comcast, tripled my speed, and reduced my cost. I found no throttling, or blocked ports. I did test Comcast for the torrent throttling. 1st minute fine, 2nd minute about 1/2 speed, etc to where a file was totally stalled on a Linux ISO by the end of the day. FTP of the same file from a mirror was a 20 minute download.

              Same test on Qwest is functional. I am running SIP phone service for 2

              • by Arker ( 91948 )
                "Customer retention may become a priority for them soon... I hope."

                I think it is already a priority. The trouble is they go about it in the wrong way. Instead of fixing the network, they pay more people to apologize for it and/or spin it to their benefit (as with Netflix.) A customer retention initiative from Comcast might get you a free month of service or the like, but who cares when the service itself is still broken?
            • Well, it's a Government monopoly with no oversight.

              Because practically speaking, you can't just let any yahoo with a garden trowel and some fiberoptic cables just start digging around everywhere, it's a freaking nightmare to do that.

              If we had real oversight on telcos and cable cos, enforced fair sharing of infrastructure and had state and local Governments enforce rules that make sense... Then really, the problem goes away. Even better if the local municipalities installed the fiber and leased it out to the

              • Well, it's a Government monopoly with no oversight.

                It's not a monopoly, and there is government oversight. At least my city was smart enough not to grant an exclusive franchise, and they do have a staff member that deals with franchise issues. We're on a first-name basis, I've called him about the shenanigans of a certain non-monopoly cable company so many times.

                Because practically speaking, you can't just let any yahoo with a garden trowel and some fiberoptic cables just start digging around everywhere, it's a freaking nightmare to do that.

                That's why you have franchise agreements that grant access to the rights of way for a fee. The fact that not just anybody can "start digging" doesn't mean there is a monopoly, it just means there

                • The post I was replying to was swinging towards the Libertarian side of things with no care for the nuance of why in some markets, the barrier to entry is really high if not impossible to break into.

                  With most markets, they are exclusive rights areas.

                  But, yes, your local municipality is also doing it right.

                  Probably better than the way I outlined it.

            • by schnell ( 163007 )

              This is what happens when you have a government sponsored and allowed monopoly

              I always wondered about the decision-making that went into the FCC's rules on this topic. NPR's Planet Money actually did a really interesting podcast on this topic [] that explains precisely why the choices in the US are far more limited elsewhere. tl;dr version: the FCC had to make a choice between two (at the time) equally competing visions of the broadband market, and they picked the wrong one.

              When the FCC was considering these rules, they had a choice between going with "telephone"-style rules that would

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            Any two-bit ISP (and in this context, that includes even the likes of Comcast) that thinks they can twist L3's arm has one hell of a nasty surprise waiting for them when their current contracts expire. This doesn't work quite the same as not getting to see this week's episode of Glee because of a pissing contest between cable companies and content providers - A week where Comcast customers can't get to Por... er... Google, means a week where Comcast loses half its customer base.

            No, they just drop Level3. Th

            • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

              You peer with Tier 2 ISPs like Level3

              Level 3 is the single largest Tier 1 in the world, several factors larger than the 2nd largest, which is several factors larger than the 3rd largest. Level 3 is crazy big, but owning a multi-billion dollar backbone with razor thin low single digit margins means nothing compared to the trillion dollar last mile owned by incumbent ISPs who get large double digit margins on magnitudes larger revenues.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Naturally, everyone wants to keep traffic on the "free" peering (i.e., same level), which works when traffic is roughly equal. The problem occurs when it isn't, in which case one side or the other has to pay up for the differential traffic. (If the traffic was truly equal, then both would upgrade the ports together because both sides are dropping packets).

              Unless the peering includes transit, the whole balance thing is an entirely fabricated necessity made by business people who don't actually know how networking works.

        • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:54AM (#46928741) Journal

          ISPs think that they offer "high speed", and they do, but only on the "last mile". They think that last mile is the only thing that counts as a metric.

          What good is a phone call if you are unable to speak?

          Congestion has always been the bigger underlying issue, because Comcast customers are clueless about what "high speed" means. The best thing Level 3 (and other peering companies like them) could be doing is running national TV advertizements announcing (without naming) that "slow internet" may not be a last mile problem. I could design a 30 second commercial that describes the issue.

          "Yes, you do have high speed internet, however your ISP may not be able to deliver the promised speed".

          And trust me, congested pipes are worse issue than appears on the surface. Once you hit that max, you start compounding the problem with duplicate (and beyond) packets needing to be resent because the first packet never go there. Once you get to that point, the ONLY solution is more and bigger pipes(series of tubes???) .

      • "...There's too much turmoil going on in Internet routing with regard to pricing now..."

        I think I spotted the flaw in your logic, it is because of pricing that the rest of the internet must carry the burden. ISP's that Throttle, are the problem, and not in any solution.
      • Most tier 2 providers already engage in this activity. I feel like Level 3 thinks they are a tier 1 provider and are finding out they are actually tier 2.
        • Most tier 2 providers already engage in this activity. I feel like Level 3 thinks they are a tier 1 provider and are finding out they are actually tier 2.

          Ah, thanks. Reading a few of Level 3's blog posts, it sounds like they want to have free peering with everybody because that's maybe how it was back when BBN and MCI were working things out. The trouble with that is that it only works when everybody plays nice. When you can't count on all players to be nice, you need markets and competition. It sounds

          • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
            Level 3 does provide the highest quality service for a competitive price, but it doesn't matter because most ISPs have a monopoly. The big player ISPs have no interest in quality, which means Level 3 needs to create motivation for peering, which means lining the golden pockets of the incumbent ISPs even more than they already are.

            If changing your ISP involved nothing more than making a 5 minute phone call and getting your VLAN changed from Comcast to someone else, then there would be a reason to keep the
      • Ya, you're forgetting the part where he who controls the eyeballs has all the power. Comcast, AT&T, and VZW all have long-haul networks of their own. This is simply their way of trying to either force companies like Netflix to dump Level3 and buy transit from them, or force Level3 to pay them for the transit someone like Netflix would as a direct customer. THIS is the problem with allowing ISPs to have monopolies. What is Level3 going to do? Consumers like myself who literally have no choice of ISP
        • THIS is the problem with allowing ISPs to have monopolies.

          I'm not sure how you'd solve that problem. Do you imagine that most home users would be able to configure an adaptive router that determines the best route for their packets and sends them to ISP A sometimes and ISP B other times? That would create havoc with routing since you're trying to change not just an address of an intermediate router, you're changing the destination address. And imagine the fun if someone actually did have service from two ISPs and they somehow became an advertised route between th

          • Ahh yes, 768k DSL because Centurylink hasn't upgraded the lines since the 80's. That's absolutely a legitimate alternative to 50mbit cable. Why not just go for AOL dial-up? Other than the fact I can't actually USE a connection that slow for anything beyond email and text based websites... good suggestion. Work from home and hop on a webex? Nope. VOIP softphone while doing ANYTHING online? Nope. And if you really just suggested that 3g cellular based internet that's capped at ridiculously low levels
      • Use OSPF and use pricing as one of the variables for cost calculation? Wouldn't take a rocket scientist and pretty sure any decent sized network does this already... We are't talking spot market here - most of these costs are negotiated in long-term contracts, but no reason we couldn't design it like the energy markets (though not sure you would want to).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This isn't about peering in the strict sense of the word. Level 3 is a transit provider, a so-called tier 1 network. [] Colloquially Level 3 is an internet backbone operator. The end-user ISPs don't have global networks and need other networks to pass data through in order to reach the entire internet. These ISPs buy transit from backbone providers, i.e. their peering is not settlement free. For an end-user ISP to unclog their "connection to the internet", they have to buy more bandwidth from the backbone prov

        • What's happening is that last-mile providers are selling internet bandwidth that they in turn haven't bought from their upstream providers.

          This has been true from the early days of even just the simple telephone system. Capacity costs money, and providers build enough capacity to handle normal volumes.

          Back when telephones were "spin the crank and ask Mabel to connect you", the capacity limits were "one Mabel" and "one patchboard". You want Mabel to do something for you, but she may be busy with someone else. Too many people want to talk to each other, you run out of patch cords. And if more than one or two people wanted to talk "long distanc

          • by schnell ( 163007 )

            Nobody builds to peak loads because none of the customers want to pay what that would cost. A company that builds its systems for peak loads would have unused bandwidth most of the time, but someone has to pay for it.

            Precisely this. I remember many Slashdot discussions of years past when people got all up in arms over the very concept of oversubscription. Networks - dating back to the PSTN as you point out - have never been built to address the peak capacity since most of the time that's a waste of everyone's money. It's like spending the money to build a 10-lane highway to solve for a two-lane road that has traffic jams only after the county fair and is fine the rest of the time. Or having enough food in your refrigera

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            The cost of good networking hardware has fallen considerably over the years. Meanwhile, the ISPs marketing depts sure do like to hype all the things you can do with your 30 bazillion megabits unlimited connection. Alas, they sure do resent it when customers sign up and actually expect to get 10% of what marketing promised. They actually could afford the necessary build-out to provide what was promised an the price they charge, but then they wouldn't be able to afford to buy up multi-national content produce

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        The solution to accountants over-accounting is not additional accounting. Do you really want to get an itemized bill from 3 providers when you watch 'cute kitten video'?

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      Or they could throttle back the traffic on behalf of the ISPs in question to just above the maximum point that they think the congested peer will support and/or start sending ICMP Source Quench packets to the ISP's end users. The ISPs would, in all likelihood, be none the wiser, and it would release Level 3's transit bandwidth for their customers that actually care about providing decent services to their end users. It's still extra load on L3's edge routers, but at least it alleviates any problems in the
      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Practically nothing actually honors source quench anymore. It was too easy to use it for DOS.

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      the largest senders of data on the internet, netflix and google already peer with the largest ISP's. if L3 de-peered from them what is that going to do?

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        That ISP would suddenly find they can't talk to Europe or Japan or almost anything other than direct peers. Level 3 is about 20% of the world wide Internet traffic that isn't peered. Many gaming services use Level 3 exclusively because of their superior network that spans USA, Europe, and connects to nearly every country in the world.
        • by alen ( 225700 )

          and how hard would it be to peer directly with verizon or comcast if they started to allow it? like they did with netflix?

          • Sounds to me like Level 3 does peer with ISPs, but the ISPs are failing to upgrade their side of the pipes so the peering suffers, just like it did with Netflix. But unlike the Netflix case, the ISP has no "asymmetric traffic" argument as to why Level 3 should pay disproportionately for peering.
    • Is just to cut the connection to those ISPs and see how long they will be around.

      Level3 is not your friend. They are in contract negotiations with those 6 providers. This was a shot across the ISPs bow to try and get them to agree to Level3's terms. Level3 has been in bed with Netflix for years. There is no massive conspiracy to keep you from watching netflix. There is, however, a massive conspiracy to change whos pocket your money ends up in. This is a propaganda war between the ISPs, Level3 and Netflix and the ISPs are loosing.

      • by alen ( 225700 )

        they are losing the blogging war but not the money war
        netflix is peering with comcast and verizon
        google is peering with ISP's
        figure the ISP's will start to peer with other content providers as well

    • by davecb ( 6526 )

      At the technical level, treat it as if it were "bufferboat", make sure your buffers are configured properly, and use an AQM algorithm like fq_codel. Doubly so if you're Level 3 or any other poor ISP connected to the culprits!

      See []

  • by AnontheDestroyer ( 3500983 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:18AM (#46928349)

    Why would the ISPs do this? They have no incentive. The correlation with customer service is a good thing to note, too. The American people are being bent over a barrel on this.

    • You're giving ISP's a pass.

      I agree, that yes, ISP's are so anti-user that they will do everything to nickel and dime them

      However, it's wrong to just abdicate any notion of a public company having ***VISION*** to be a better/different company

      Your comment is true, but it doesn't **have** to be...that's what you miss

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      take over their business?
      20 years ago we had dozens of small ISP's and large backbone networks were needed to connect them
      today we have a few huge ISP's. two of them are national wireless carriers with huge fiber backbone networks of their own to every corner of the USA. one of them is about to be a national network once they buy a competitor

      5 years ago netflix had to peer with third party peering companies to distribute content. now Comcast and Verizon are connecting directly to Netflix at cheaper rates th

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:24AM (#46928409) Journal

    ISP's like Comcast will do this with mathematical certainty....unless we regulate it.

    They barely attempt to cover it up now...this is due to the fact that they are a publicly held corporation

    • We should not even have to regulate this, the FTC needs to sue for not providing access to the internet as advertised.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:28AM (#46928449)

    Level 3 has been awesome, but the ISP's now have national footprints and transit prices are dropping fast. Verizon and AT&T have it because of the wireless business. Comcast will be a national network once they buy time warner.

      figure that as transit prices drop L3 and Cogent have to carry more and more data to pay the bills but they don't have enough money left to upgrade the links and want the ISP's to upgrade them. maybe the ISP's are being dicks and trying to run L3 and Cogent out of business by denying them more links and then taking their business like what happened with netflix

    at this level there is no more need of transit providers as more and more content sellers will connect directly to the ISP's. so L3 and Cogent are crying network neutrality to save their business

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      Transit prices are dropping because the hardware is getting cheaper. They're still making a profit, upgrades are part of the pricing. Even if you combined Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, you still couldn't touch the amount of transit Level 3 handles. The only thing those ISPs have going for them is having effective monopolies on the last mile.
      • by alen ( 225700 )

        netflix is now sending directly to comcast and verizon and that's a huge piece of revenue lost for L3 and Cogent
        figure MLB, NBA, NHL and other big video providers will jump ship as well if they get cheaper rates from verizon and comcast

    • There networks are fine (well at least lets not get into an engineering debate) they increase internal bandwidth as needed. I say this as a customer of them with multiple 10ge ports on a half dozen providers. Comcast etc are not increasing capacity at there peering points or paid transit, they are pretty much saying we have the eyeballs and your going to pay us to reach them. They are intentionally not upgrading to force more netflix type deals while screwing over there customer base by not giving them wh

      • by alen ( 225700 )

        the point is that comcast is doing this not to kill netflix, but to kill L3 and Cogent to grab their business.
        comcast and verizon want the transit business as well. ISP's used to do hosting until amazon took it away. taking the transit business is a way to get hosting back as well

  • Biased (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:31AM (#46928481)

    So, just to make it clear up front... Level3 is a Tier1 provider. Basically they are an ISP to the consumer ISPs. This is how your ISP connects to the internet (that's an over simplification but it will serve our purposes here) There are other Tier1 networks that the ISPs can connect to.

    The point to these peering agreements is that Netflix and other companies like them make agreements with the ISPs to elevate congestion. So Google (random example) goes to AT&T (another random example) and says "We want to sign a peering agreement with you. We'd like to use Level3 for 2 years." and if AT&T agrees they do the same. So now both companies know there will be 10gig of traffic coming at them for 2 years and they can sign a reciprocal contract with Level3. This is standard

    What Netflix does that angers pretty much every ISP on the planet is that they refuse to negotiate on these agreements at all. Instead they show up and say "We're going to use Level3, and we're not going to tell you for how long. Here's a long list of conditions that may cause us to switch without notice" so the ISP is stuck not knowing how long of a contract to sign and end up losing a lot of money when Netflix switches without notice.

    The Tier1 providers love this. There's nothing better if you're a network provider than a customer locked into a contract they can't get out of stuck paying for bandwidth they aren't using.

    The ISPs in question are likely in negotiation with Level3 on contracts. Level3 has been using the Netflix situation to their advantage. I suspect that this blog post by their VP is just an attempt to push the issue and get them to sign deals more lucrative for level3.

    Not saying the ISPs aren't sucking. But this guys words need to be taken with a grain of salt. He's not out trying to help the consumer.

    • Dead Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:46AM (#46928651)

      Peering agreements are between two organizations, not between two organizations with a tier-1 between them. Netflix's peering agreement was not through level-1, it was direct between comcast and netflix. Tier-1 providers are the intermediary between non-peering entities, and tier-1 providers peer with those entities.

      • Re:Dead Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:04AM (#46928875)

        Exactly. @Charliemopps, that is not how the internet works.

        As AC tries to explain:

        Netflix _pays_ Level3 for internet access (Level3 is a tier1 so has connectivity to the whole internet). _Pays_ being the important word here
        You _pay_ your ISP for internet, and they _pay_ a tier1 for access. From the money you pay. No reason to ask Netflix for money.

        The actual situation is more difficult because ISPs and content providers also peer. That is, they connect to each other, and pay each other nothing for the privilege. This makes sense because both parties pay less to their tier1 or transit provider.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      You could always peer with Netflix. Going colo or nearest IX is an option that is relatively cheap.
  • by fullback ( 968784 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:38AM (#46928545)

    I just spent three weeks in the U.S.

    The internet service was like being in a third-world country, but no one would believe it if you told them.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      You are correct. Our internet here is an utter joke from end to end.

    • Because I get real tired of hearing stuff like this completely context free.

      Where were you? What kind of net connection did you have? Where are you from? What kind of net connection do you have there? What kind of latency do you see? What kind of download speeds do you get from large download providers? What is your packet loss like? Etc, etc.

      Reason I say that is because I live in the US and if my Internet is "like being in a third-world country" then we've reached the point where the third-world is connect

      • Re:Details please (Score:4, Informative)

        by fullback ( 968784 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @05:25PM (#46933993)

        Her are those details:

        I live in Japan and not in the middle of a city. I'm in a suburban area and have lived in what would be considered almost rural at one time.

        I've had fiber for over 13 years. The only time I've ever had a service interruption was during the major earthquake 3 years ago. Internet came back up within an hour, though. That was the only time I've had a power outage too, in over 22 years of living in Japan.

        I was in several major cities the southeast U.S. - Orlando, Atlanta, Nashville, etc. I needed to ftp data to my servers and it was almost impossible. So slow that I had to give up and wait until I returned home. I was at a friend's house and he lost internet service at least once per week. He had to scream answers for 5 minutes through his phone to a silly automated service before he could talk to a person. He said he has to do it weekly...

        I couldn't get any emails from Asia through his connection. They're all blocked, and those were from the major ISP's in Japan - NTT and Softbank. Blocked! Every foreign web server was like pulling teeth.

        Public WiFi was, well, pathetic.

        It has nothing to do with size of the country. I had faster, more reliable service in the middle of nowhere surrounded by rice paddies in Japan 10 years ago than exists in U.S. urban areas now.

        The reason is that there is competition in Japan. No area franchises. It's a free country.

  • by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:40AM (#46928567) Homepage Journal

    Peering agreements are established between different networks to further the common interests of both network providers.

    For example - Cogent and Verizon reach a peering agreement of 100 megabit. This is a dedicated symmetrical connection between the two companies. They do this because in theory it is cheaper to swap data directly rather then pay a 3rd party to transmit the data between the two networks.

    Now what happens when Cogent goes and sells a bunch of cheap bandwidth to various providers like Netflix and begins flooding relatively one way traffic onto Verizon's network? Well they saturated the 100 megabit connection in one direction. Verizon who isn't anywhere close to the saturation point on their side says hey if you want more bandwidth you have to pay for it because we're not using anywhere near what you are and these agreements are supposed to be fairly equal with respect to traffic flows.

    Level 3 and Cogent are both guilty of selling cheap bandwidth to internet companies who mostly only send traffic one way. Video, Music, etc... You can't expect the other side of the peer to just keep expanding the circuit to accommodate your horrible business model.

    I'm not a huge fan of any of these companies Verizon, Comcast, Level 3 or Cogent but Level 3 and Cogent are both in the wrong given their current agreements and since they can't reach a deal in private they are parading this out in public and trying to make a spectacle.

    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      That might matter if we're talking about transit networks where reciprocity makes sense (i.e. "I'll forward your traffic if you forward mine").

      However, Comcast is overwhelmingly an 'eyeball' network - its customers PAY to get access to this music/video. By refusing to setup additional peering interconnects Comcast hurts its own customers. If there was some real competition then they'll be under pressure to optimize their infrastructure and reach an agreement with transit providers on fair and equitable gr
    • Your argument might be more compelling if there was a reason for these connections to need to be symmetrical, but there's not. Comcast customers want the Netflix data to flow to them, and Netflix wants the data to flow to them.
    • As the article makes clear, where ISPs are liable to be left by consumers who are unimpressed with their service, there isn't an issue. It's only because these ISPs can't be avoided that they have the clout to pull this stunt. Markets are good - Americans don't have a free market in ISP provision, a true irony!
    • shill harder bro

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:23AM (#46929107)
      Let me get this strait, Level 3 sells bandwidth of the highest quality to a company, routes it around the world with nearly no congestion, then offers to peer with an ISP for free, meaning that ISP doesn't need to route the data around the world themselves, the ISP refuses because they think the data should be not only handed to them on a silver platter, but also get paid; and you think Level 3 has a "horrible" business model?
    • However, Comcast is overwhelmingly an 'eyeball' network

      It's worth noting, however, that Comcast (and others) try to make sure they're "eyeball" networks. For many years, ISPs have been offering things like "20 mbps downloads, 1 mbps upload." You make it sound a little too much like, "Poor Comcast. They only get the 'eyeball' business, while Cogent and Level 3 go around courting customers looking for mass distribution!" Really, these ISPs have been trying to turn the Internet into more of a broadcast model for years, specifically in the hopes of capitalizing

    • ISP traffic has always been asymmetrical, 90% down, 10% up. It wasn't until peer-to-peer networking took off that the balance started to swing a little, and then the ISP's were complaining because their up-link bandwidth was getting saturated over the coax nodes.

      Now that streaming video is becoming a common place thing the percentage has swung back up and we are probably 95% down, 5% up on the ISP network. They're all upgrading their last mile connections so you can have 50Mbit+ to the home, but if you
  • The ISPs are creating a false scarcity in order to try to improve their profits. At the same time they're saving money by refusing to improve capacity. It's time for this bullshit to end.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      MOST ISP's are running on gear that is over 12 years old or older. they refuse to upgrade it even by extreme 10 year standards.

  • by fallen1 ( 230220 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:01AM (#46928821) Homepage

    First, let me be clear -- I'm not a big fan of this idea, but after looking at the problem from multiple angles this idea keeps coming up as the best way to spur competition and end the debate on network neutrality.

    A few steps to stop this greed from happening, hopefully:

    a) A clear, concise Bill of Internet Rights.
    -- This must be done in order to alleviate a lot of the crap going on now. There should be terms that explicitly disallow government agencies from piping internet traffic through their data centers for "analysis" of anything WITHOUT A NON-SECRET COURT ORDER. If it can't stand up the light of day, it doesn't fit with principles this country was founded upon and which hundreds of thousands of men and women have died to uphold. Stop being assholes and running roughshod over the Constitution.
    -- This must be done to guarantee privacy. As much as can be, anyway.
    -- This must be done to guarantee that all data is treated equally with the obvious need for quality assurance. No more congesting nodes, no more content owner also owns the delivery network so it can shutout competition, no more "you pay us, again, for the bandwidth that our customer who requested your info has already paid for."

    b) Nationalize the Distribution Lines
    -- All copper, fiber, interconnects, and so on are nationalized.
    -- A plan is put into place to guarantee (almost) everyone in the United States good data speeds (10mb/s up and down - minimum) by adding more and more fiber. I say (almost) because there are some VERY remote places where people live and it will take time (plus more money) to reach them. If 90% of the population can be served, including rural areas, then that would be great.
    -- Everyone who wishes to be an ISP pays THE SAME per connection. Yes, that would mean someone in Small Town, Iowa costs the same as someone in New York to connect to the internet. The overhead of the ISP will determine what $XX.xx is added to the government mandated $YY.yy and here's the rub - customer service comes back to the forefront and actually means something because the Public will know what the $YY.yy is. Competition to gain and keep customers based on price alone should vanish as value-added services and real customer service return to the industry.
    -- We have a glut of workers needing work. Teach them to lay fiber optic cable and copper if needed. Put them to work moving the United States back to the top of the chart in broadband/internet access. In this day and age it is a necessity, not a luxury. Easily as ubiquitous today as the telephone and mail were in their days.

    I'm probably missing a massive hole in my theory (greed being at the top of that list), but if this was done it would foster intense competition and new ideas as one would not be held back by thinking "I will get blocked out by Company A because they have a grip on distribution of a similar idea." Freedom from the so-called content creators of today locking down sections of the internet or using their power to double and triple-dip the pockets of consumers and competitors.

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:26AM (#46929145) Homepage

    Yesterday, the net neutrality petition [] passed the halfway mark, with 18 days left to go. The FCC request for comments [] is still live and looking for your feedback, and Mozilla has an alternative in the offing [].

    Keep the pressure on, keep posting these things on your social networks, keep telling your friends. The only thing less effective than telling the government what we want is not telling them what we want. It is a double edged sword; either they do as we say, or we get one more bit of documentation to support reforming the government.

  • For anyone who actually wants to know as much as possible about the situation before they defend their position to the death Dr. Peering [] has a somewhat unbiased writeup [] about the arguments from both sides of the Netflix/Comcast debate.

    My take is that the overselling of all-you-can-eat broadband will need to come to an end as Comcast (any ISP that employs the practice) simply cannot sustain an uncongested and reliable network as long as they rely on it. An unpopular idea but one that needs to be considere
  • Perhaps they shouldn't be hosting their blog server on one of those 6 ISPs.

  • The real solution is that:
    1. More content needs to be accessible via peer-to-peer.
    2. ISPs need to have content proxies and encourage their users to use them.
    3. Don't use "transparent proxies" because they're frequently worse than useless.
    4. Static data shouldn't be served via HTTPS but instead by some kind of GPG content encoding via HTTP so that it may be cached.

    Just my 2.

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?