15 Comments

Summary:

The peering flap between Verizon and Cogent is shaping up to be a classic he said, she said. Cogent pointed the finger at Verizon and now Verizon is doing the same. And we are not done just yet.

networking globe
photo: Thinkstock

Earlier this week we reported that a peering flap between Verizon and Cogent Communications was the reason some folks were having sub-optimal experience when trying to get access to Netflix content. Cogent pointed the finger at Verizon and said that the phone operator was letting the ports used to connect local networks to massive networks fill up without the usual discussion about provisioning more ports.

Today, Verizon on their policy blog said that we “don’t have the full story” and that this is a problem on Cogent’s part. Here is what they wrote:

Cogent is not compliant with one of the basic and long-standing requirements for most settlement-free peering arrangements: that traffic between the providers be roughly in balance. When the traffic loads are not symmetric, the provider with the heavier load typically pays the other for transit (see our ex parte filing[PDF] from the 2010 Comcast/Level 3 spat for more info on peering and transit agreements). This isn’t a story about Netflix, or about Verizon “letting” anybody’s traffic deteriorate. This is a fairly boring story about a bandwidth provider that is unhappy that they are out of balance and will have to make alternative arrangements for capacity enhancements, just like any other interconnecting ISP.

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Verizon labeled Cogent as a repeat offender — and they have been — in the peering disputes. Of course, the Verizon statement doesn’t address the issues of Netflix being a bone of contention between Cogent and them.

Earlier this morning, my colleague Stacey Higginbotham wrote about the growing tensions between companies such as Verizon, content providers and wholesale bandwidth providers.

The telcos and cable providers, intent on protecting their margins and their pay TV businesses, have taken network neutrality from the public world of consumer pricing and throttling to the data centers. Instead of banning Skype, or charging more for it on their networks, they want to change they way they charge content providers, demanding that they pay more for ports on the network when traffic starts filling them up.

There is great discussion in the comments section of our original post on peering problems and Stacey’s post from this morning. Weigh in with your comments.

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  1. If these companies can’t play nice with each other the government will have to step in. Otherwise the free and open Internet is in real danger.

    1. InSearchOfBalance Virtuous Thursday, June 20, 2013

      What’s most amusing is how much hay GigaOm is making of it.

      People seeing a conspiracy are deeply ignorant of the history of both companies in this regard. It seems pretty obvious that there is nothing sinister, just a combination of Verizon running hot (as usual) and Cogent sabre rattling (as usual).

      1. Of course, in the process giving you another chance to troll ;-) And I will provide you many more such opportunities in near future.

        1. InSearchOfBalance Om Malik Thursday, June 20, 2013

          Philosoraptor asks: Is it trolling if it is true?

          So sorry that I can’t use my Real Name here; I can’t be misconstrued as speaking for the company where I’m presently employed.

          1. I understand you can’t use your real name and we respect that you an opinion.

            Provocation is not our stock-and-trade, so when we say something, we are extremely careful. But I don’t care for your implied assumption that we aren’t doing our job and checking with multiple sources on all sides of the fence. I have been writing about the issues long enough and so has Stacey.

            By the way Verizon hasn’t denied the original thrust of the story — Netflix being a point of contention – and instead tried to paint Cogent as the bad guy in this fracas.

            As for your comment about making hay of it — I don’t know about you, but when you are using blogging as way to share information, you post updates often. It is a developing story.

            Like I said, you will have more chances to disagree, mock and disparage our efforts in forthcoming posts and I look forward to your contribution to the conversation.

  2. Annnnnd, thanks to talk about the government stepping in, one or the other of the parties will now play that card for advantage. Sensing a growth opportunity, the government will step in, and peering arrangements will be dictated from above, unchangeable without decades-long rulemakings and law suits. Thanks, Virtuous…

  3. I want my movies Thursday, June 20, 2013

    A big part of these peering issues is the changing nature of consumer demand. Residential or ‘eyeball’ networks will always have more pull traffic than a business or content type ISP. However, it is the end users of the eyeball networks demanding more and more content that is driving this. A request for a movie for instance is a very small amount of data – the movie itself coming the other direction is a massive amount of data many times the size of that request. By its very nature, streaming movies are going to unbalance the ratios between the streaming movie ISP and the Eyeball ISP. If the Eyeball ISP doesn’t want to upgrade the peering to a movie streaming service’s ISP they should inform their customers that they supply internet access to everything except that streaming provider.

  4. StanelyTheGuest Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Wait wait I’m confused. David Young at Verizon says “When the traffic loads are not symmetric, the provider with the heavier load typically pays the other for transit ” Let’s see. Verizon bought WCOM which bought UUNET, right? So Verizon has lots of experience with backbone interconnection, right. With UUNET, who paid whom???

    If the rule is the network with the heavier traffic load pays – then UUNET would have always paid the access networks (because downstream to access networks has ALWAYS been heavier than upstream). But that’s not what happened is it? Because that’s NOT the rule. Back in 1998 when UUNET depeered with everyone, UUNET established the rule very clearly. And the rule is downstream networks pay upstream networks. Networks on the edge (both access networks and content networks) pay backbones for delivery.

    Prior to 2010, access networks NEVER paid upstream networks for interconnection. And the amount of traffic NEVER determined who paid. Content networks delivered more traffic upstream to backbones – they paid transit. Access networks received more traffic downstream from backbones – they paid transit.

    Verizon may or may not have valid arguments here. But “When the traffic loads are not symmetric, the provider with the heavier load typically pays the other for transit ” is historical bullshit.

  5. InSearchOfBalance Thursday, June 20, 2013

    “Prior to 2010, access networks NEVER paid upstream networks for interconnection.”
    So false I don’t know where to start.

    “And the amount of traffic NEVER determined who paid. ”
    It certainly has been written into contracts that way for … over a decade? I may have seen my first paid peering or ratio-based settlements in 1999, but definitely saw them in 2000.

    What you’re seeing here is the hint (can’t state it else they will break confidentiality which usually wraps these deals) form VZ that they and Cogent do not have a settlement-free arrangement. They likely have a contract that involves ratios and a settlement based upon it, and I would hazard a guess that Netflix moving a lot of traffic from L3 to Cogent has skewed the numbers.

  6. Seems to me that Netflix needs to use the same tool cable tv uses, the customers. Netflix should begin letting VZ customers know that their provider is actively using their poor network design to drive sales of a product that cannot compete on the open market and that those customers should write VZ and their congress about these anti-consumer attempts.

  7. You can spin this the other way around. Verizon’s customers are demanding far more from Cogent than Cogent’s customers are from Verizon. Since it is Verizon’s customers with the demand, why isn’t Verizon playing Cogent for the supply?

  8. Netflix uses Amazon Web Services. It is a cloud-based company. Sounds to me like Verizon’s argument is with Amazon, which makes their argument more than a little thin. And didn’t I read awhile back about Netflix offering co-location? This would involve putting a container at ISP hubs. Netflix would then upload to the servers in the container the most popular movies of the moment, in the wee hours. Then the movies wouldn’t hog backbone bandwidth. Verizon sounds to me like a pouty schoolgirl.

  9. Sounds oddly like Bell Canada and their irrational hatred of Netflix.

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