33 Comments

Summary:

Cogent Communications, one of the largest bandwidth providers in the world charged that Sprint-Nextel has severed its network from Cogent’s networks. This could cause network slowdown and decrease in web performance.

UPDATED With Comments From Sprint: Cogent Communications, one of the largest bandwidth providers in the world, charged that Sprint-Nextel has severed its network from Cogent’s networks. This could cause network slowdown and decrease in web performance. In a statement today, the company said that Sprint unpeered from Cogent’s network at 4:30 p.m. on October 31 30, 2008. Peering is a voluntary process where two networks exchange equal amount of data amongst each other without actually paying each other.  

“It is no longer possible for many Sprint customers and Cogent customers to directly communicate across the Internet,” Cogent said, and alleged that Sprint was in “violation of a contractual obligation to exchange Internet traffic with Cogent on a settlement free peering basis.” The two companies are in litigation over the issue.

I will try and talk to both companies in the morning, but I just wonder if Sprint is the only party to blame here. Cogent, based in Washington, D.C., has been involved in similar unpeering spats with Level 3, Telia and other operators.

Update: Here is a response from Sprint that shows that the situation isn’t as simple as Cogent tries to paint it.  “In 2006, Sprint and Cogent entered into a commercial trial agreement. Cogent failed to satisfy Sprint’s peering criteria and refused to pay Sprint to stay connected to our network. Sprint notified Cogent well in advance that it would disconnect Cogent unless it paid, and Cogent refused. As a result of Cogent’s refusal, Sprint was forced to terminate the commercial interconnection agreement and disconnect its network from Cogent’s.”  

The Sprint spokesperson said that, “Cogent’s posturing in this case is nothing more than an effort to divert attention away from its’ contractual obligations, and this is the latest in a growing list of peering-related disputes between Cogent and Internet backbone providers.”

In the past, these problems have arisen because one of the two network operators felt that they needed to be compensated for the the traffic they were sending to the other. Cogent CEO Dave Schaffer in an interview earlier this year said that carriers hate them because they don’t like “our low-price pricing policy except our customers, and most of the companies have been reluctant peers with us.”

Cogent says that any “Sprint-Nextel wireline customer that is unable to connect to Cogent’s customers a free 100 megabit per second connection to the Internet for as long as Sprint continues to keep this partitioning of the Internet in place.”

  1. Carlos Alperin Friday, October 31, 2008

    This is a connectivity disruption issue, and both parts should be punished by this kind of activity. It was clear on their agreements that peering is the basis on which Internet was founded.

    If peering will be charged some way, then each provider will be able to think that they own the rights to charge whoever for pass through any bit. Since traffic goes in both directions, then he better understand that he will be paying back, and both peers cannot be charging the end users more than what they are already charging for.

    Old history coming back…

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  2. [...] to Om Malik, “It is no longer possible for many Sprint customers and Cogent customers to directly [...]

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  3. There needs to be a law preventing this kind of disconnection. I was directly impacted by this as a Cogent Customer. I thought they also did a poor job in managing their client base. If you call the customer support line and listen to the status message, It states there are no Outages at this time.

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  4. Rumor has it Cogent decided they didn’t want to pay anymore so Sprint cut them off.

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  5. [...] case of I don’t want to play with you anymore? Cogent, Sprint Disconnect Networks, May Cause Web Slowdown – GigaOM __________________ Its all peaches & sunshine baby, peaches & sunshine.. Obsequious, [...]

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  6. Om
    You’re right this is crucial. Probably even more so since the MCI and AT&T takeovers reduced backbone competition enough to be worrisome. I tend to trust competition on the backbone to solve most things, but that competition has been reduced.

    Cogent’s had a similar battle with Telia. I pressed them for the details, and they held them back. A month or two later when the smoke cleared it became obvious there was more to the story.

    Cogent likes the David vs Goliath image, but needs to provide the details as well. Maybe you’ll have more luck than I did with them last time.

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  7. [...] og fremmest er der kommet en forklaring fra Sprint på depeeringen: In 2006, Sprint and Cogent entered into a commercial trial agreement. Cogent failed [...]

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  8. Joe The Plumber Friday, October 31, 2008

    It’s “depeered” not “unpeered”. That’s almost as bad as when you said the AMS-IX had been acquired.

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  9. Any ideas how many end-user customers this could affect? How many sprint users are there?

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  10. Cogent customers, here’s a quote you should post on your cube wall, for the next time a sales rep gives you a ridiculously low-ball price for what you *think* is a commodity:

    The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten. – John Ruskin

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