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The Telia-Cogent Spat Could Ruin the Web For Many

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Updated: Swedish telecom operator Telia and U.S.-based connectivity provider Cogent Communications have gotten into an ugly spat and have stopped interconnecting, according to some of my sources in the telecom business. What this essentially means is that Telia’s DSL customers could have trouble seeing Cogent-connected web services. Telia, now part of TeliaSonera is one of the largest networks in Europe.

The bickering could be because one of the two parties feel they need to be paid for the traffic they are sending. I am looking into this and have emails out to all my sources in the bandwidth business, and will update accordingly. (If you have any information, drop me a line.)

Cogent had previously gotten into a slugfest with Level 3 Communications. Cogent’s stance towards Telia is hypocritical. Here is a press release they issued back in 2005 when complaining about Level3. As a reader points out, Cogent has been involved in such spats with other carriers as well. OpenTransit (France Telecom), Teleglobe, ATDN are some of those who have had Cogent issues.

This is a letter Telia sent to its customers:

Dear Customer,

We would like to give you the following information:

Cogent has decided not to exchange traffic directly with TeliaSonera’s AS 1299 or indirectly with AS 1299 through a third-party provider. As a result, Cogent has partitioned the Internet and disrupted the flow of traffic between Cogent and TeliaSonera customers.

While this has a negative impact on some users of the Internet, this effect is the result of Cogent’s decision and is unfortunately beyond TeliaSonera’s control. Until Cogent rectifies this situation, TeliaSonera customers experiencing any difficulty reaching Cogent’s network can continue to purchase IP Transit from TeliaSonera along with another Tier 1 provider. This will fix the immediate problem and ensure optimal connectivity going forward.

We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused…

If you have further concerns, please address your commercial contact at TeliaSonera

Updated with inputs from our readers. Thanks guys

139 Responses to “The Telia-Cogent Spat Could Ruin the Web For Many”

  1. Anders (another one)

    RE: Mike Fisher.

    You are so wrong. Why don’t you get your head out of your a**. I said to sue because cogent use tactics which are absolutely filthy. I dislike both companies though the one cutting the line is responsible – period. They could have settled this in court or through negotiation (like ethical companies do). It doesn’t matter AT ALL which company is right or wrong – Cognet cut the cable so to speak.

    The real problem, as several others posters mentioned, is that these tactics threatens the open structure of the Internet. 5 companies (in probably fewer, western, countries) can heavily disrupt Internet if they feel like doing so. International treaties is a must to prevent these ridicules disputes!

    Issues are present as of today (24:th Mars).

  2. I too live in Norrland, northern Sweden. The speed of my Telia connection is disgraceful to say the least. As a Scotsman living abroad I find it disgraceful that a company as big as Telia have not sorted out any other work-around for their customers to function normally.

    It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is. The fact is – we, the customers are left high and dry. As a webmaster in charge of a lot of sites I have been unable to access a large amount of my domains.

    Come on Telia – Get your finger out of your arsehole and start providing a full service for your paying customers.

    Andy Montgomery

  3. Please, start boycott Cogen. They are piece of shit on Internet – providing only problems, demandings, money-money-money.. A typical american company? Cogent has already shown in past that they are going to cut off lines, if other don’t do what they want. They did it again!!

    PLEASE, ISPs and people START BOYCOTT COGENT! Cogent must be cut off from Internet!

  4. I second that, Telia isnt so great, here in northern sweden its always going down too and recently its been incredibly slow. Well now this, last week a site i use every day just stopped working, after alot of hair pulling and trying to find some explanation everywhere i was sent this article, well this explains it. It is just ridiculous!, so what exactly is going to happen now? lots of bickering between two companies.

  5. vittumitäpaskaa

    cogent fault or not, I’m too damn pissed about TeliaSonera customer service here in Finland. Here in my city there are internet crashing like every week and sometimes the damn service doesn’t work at all. I’m too fed up of this shit! TELIASONERA SUCKS!

  6. The really sad part about this is all the people saying they’re switching from Telia, even though some damn suit at Cogent is the responsible arsehole.

    And whatever people say, it’s quite clear that Cogent are the whoring bastards trying to get some more money, because Telia hasn’t had these kinds of issues before (that I can remember, nor that I can find), but according to people who’ve posted here, Cogent has.

    So in short, problems like this will be around as long as there are whoring suits hungry for money.

  7. Customer Communication regarding TeliaSonera International Carrier and Cogent!

    Dear Valued Customer,

    We would like to provide you with an update about your TeliaSonera IP service:

    Cogent Communications (AS174) has disconnected from TeliaSonera (AS1299), with the effect that the Internet is partitioned and, at the time of writing, customers of Cogent Communications and TeliaSonera cannot exchange Internet traffic directly or through a third party. Your IP Transit or IP Connect service may be affected as a result of this action.

    Cogent Communications has decided to comment openly about disconnecting their network and their decision to partition the Internet. While we do not believe that it is constructive to air a commercial dispute in the public domain or to negotiate through the press, we feel obligated to address certain matters that have been put at issue by Cogent.

    The accuracy of reported information has been quite variable and we would like to state to our customers that, whilst we will not comment on specific peering relationships, we would like to correct some information that been given to the media. First, if TeliaSonera had received prior notice explaining that Cogent intended imminently to disconnect all IP connectivity from TeliaSonera, then TeliaSonera would have attempted to notify its customers. Second, prior to Cogent’s abrupt decision to sever connectivity, TeliaSonera had rejected Cogent’s alleged breach of contract claim and explained TeliaSonera’s belief that Cogent had failed to satisfy certain contractual requirements. Cogent, in turn, responded to this impasse by disconnecting all connectivity with TeliaSonera .

    TeliaSonera has long-standing and successful relationships with all Tier-1 networks. These relationships would not be possible if TeliaSonera could not meet connectivity obligations to a standard acceptable to Tier-1 peer networks. As has always been the case, TeliaSonera remains open to a commercial dialogue with Cogent and believes that it should be possible to reach a contractual arrangement acceptable to both parties. We recommend that our customers contact either the TeliaSonera Customer Service Centre or your Account Manager to discuss any specific concerns that you may have that have not already been addressed.

    We sincerely apologise for all the inconveniences.

  8. At Last I see whats happening. I thought that wunderground.com had a problem as my weather page was not showing the wunderground link. I then tried my tele2 mobile and all was well. I hope that this problem gets sorted asap as I am missing clients on my website

  9. Well, there seems only to be one solution to this. Put financial pressure on the two companies. Telia nor Cogent will get my business in the future.

    Until my contract runs out. Proxies will have to do.

  10. Spencer

    No World of Warcraft Gaming for Cogent customers.

    http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=3190831945&sid=1

    We are aware that players whose ISP connections rely only on Cogent may not be able to connect. We’re working to obtain information from Cogent in order to assist them in addressing their issue, and will provide further details as they come available.

    Cogent has decided not to exchange traffic directly with TeliaSonera’s AS 1299 or indirectly with AS 1299 through a third-party provider. As a result, Cogent has partitioned the Internet and disrupted the flow of traffic between Cogent and TeliaSonera customers. While this has a negative impact on some users of the Internet, this effect is the result of Cogent’s decision and is unfortunately beyond TeliaSonera’s control.

  11. David Schaeffer, chief executive of Washington-based Cogent, said the two companies had a “peering” contract, under which they exchanged traffic from each other’s customers, with neither company paying the other for access. But TeliaSonera continuously breached the terms of the contract by not exchanging traffic in certain locations, and refusing to upgrade connections that were saturated, Schaeffer said.

    That forced Cogent traffic to take long detours, according to Schaeffer. For instance, it sometimes had to carry data from a Cogent customer in Europe across the Atlantic to the U.S., then hand it over to TeliaSonera, which carried it back across the Atlantic to its European destination.

    Cogent cut its direct links to TeliaSonera on March 13. For a while, customers of the two companies were still able to connect indirectly, through intermediaries connected to Cogent and TeliaSonera, but that possibility disappeared on Friday, according to Renesys

    Schaeffer said the loss of alternate routes had nothing to do with Cogent, and speculated that TeliaSonera has refused to pay other providers for traffic destined for Cogent.
    link below to the real story:
    http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080319/broken_internet.html?.v=2

  12. Just chiming in here, another norwegian. (nextgentel isp – a very popular isp, here in norway… I assume several others also route through telia)

    It’s certainly not minor, considering just how many fairly “important” sites it affects. A few days ago, I found at least a third of the sites I frequent – were unreachable. Just to mention a couple real nuisances: filefront and mediafire.

    I really can’t understand how this is even considered remotely acceptable behaviour. This is like the beginning of a net segmentation between the US and europe. Even speaking purely money wise, and disregarding the ethics of it, all those international companies affected by this – with offices in both the US and Europe.

    When it started I figured it was a technical difficulty, I can barely believe it’s being done intentionally.

  13. History of Cogent peering issues:
    AOL (2003)
    Level 3 (2005)
    France Telecom (2006)
    TeliaSonera (2008)

    4 out of the past 5 years have had problems… not exactly the best track record.

    ya its not Telesoneras foul this time.
    but prob Telia dont want to pay for the upgrade at all
    since thay dont see that it will give them anythingt that makes it better for them.

  14. Unno Named

    I have received no communication from Sonera. Yeah, right, Telia’s fault. Let’s just remember it was Cogent who cut the wire! Also, it is standard American business policy to resort to extortion. It all goes to prove that Americans are lousy people. But yes, Telia has the worst customer service I have ever come across in my entire life!

    This stupid thing hasn’t affected my “Online life” in pretty much any way, but it makes one realize how fragile the Internet is, being controlled by evil corporations run by arrogant americans, who are a threat for the entire world. USA must be defeated! Europe must never rely on unreliable Americans, coz they will backstab anyone to get what they greedy-ass want.

  15. RE: Mike Fisher.

    Well, unless you can backup what you are saying, you’re like me, speculating. And what you are saying don’t make sense either, since TeliaSonera is transit free in both europe and north america.

    Cogent might be leasing the lines from Telia in europe, but that dont in any way say Telia must peer with them in europe.

  16. Mike Fisher

    Nope. That’s not what happened. If Cogent’s aim was to charge Telia for transit it would have never agreed to the settlement-free peering point, as, at the time it was agreed, it had no network in scandinavia. Once again you miss the key point: The simple fact is that Telia refuses to peer with Cogent in Europe but wants to enjoy the benefits of settlement-free peering with them in the US and no amount of your ‘guessing’ changes that fact.

  17. RE: Mike Fisher

    Iam guessing(probably right also) that Cogent wanted to charge Telia for the transit, which is, odd but fair enough. Then Telia did the same thing, and Cogent started crying. Most likely due to the fact that Cogent is sending alot more traffic then it’s getting from Telia, and they started crying.

    Something they have done against several other carriers. Every single year.

  18. Mike Fisher

    Ok let’s have a reality check.. Cogent contracts to a settlement-free peering arrangement with Telia in the US. This arrangement is of limited value to Cogent as Telia’s content/eyeball customer base in the US is minimal. So why does Cogent agree to this? Answer: Because Cogent wants to expand their network in Europe, and peering with Telia- and/or any other major European incumbent- in Europe will of course add value to their customer’s experience. So does Telia keep up their part of the bargain by allowing Cogent a peering point in Europe? Answer: No. So the question everyone needs to answer is why Cogent should continue to peer with Telia in the US? Saying Cogent should be ‘sued for this’ is at best ridiculous when it is Telia who are in breach. Unfortunately like most European incumbents, Telia don’t like it up ’em

  19. This is really annoying. Im from Denmark and am using a small ISP called BolignetAarhus. Apparantly they are also buying in with Telia, which menas that I can’t access my work-wiki (Socialtext) or the fun game Poxnora. Some of their stuff must be located in Cogent’s domain.

    Hope they will come to some kind of agreement soon!

    Until then – is there any possible workaround?

  20. We have not had access to our domain registrar in the US (50+ domains) or to our web hoster (20+ domains) in Canada or several of the other US businesses with which we would normally be in contact, since midday on Friday the 14th. We are totally ticked off at Telia’s customer service, because they lied to us repeatedly when we queried the problem (finally got a hold of them on Monday). While we waited on the telephone, the reps made a show of performing various ping tests to show us that the problems with POP emails and DNS resolution, etc., could not possibly be their fault, which left us bombarding the above two suppliers with requests that they sort their systems out – after all, we are business customers working with international clients and need to stay connected.

    Since Friday we have lost count of how many bounced or disappeared emails there have been, and are now encountering an unprecendented number of disgruntled customers, some of whom think we have been ignoring them, when in reality, we had no idea that they were trying to contact us.

    Telia KNEW there was a problem and did not have the decency to say so when asked. The fellow said that he could absolutely say that there was “no blockage in the system – that never happens with Telia, and everything is working normally”. Not once did he mention Cogent and this rather glaring issue. And I find it hard to believe that he would not have known about it after three days of problems.

    If I had not thought to check the connection through my Tele2 mobile after four days of torture then I would not have realised that the obstacle to those connections was Telia.

  21. Mephistro

    It seems that Cogent customers can’t reach WoW servers in Europe, which are inside TS’s network.
    I guess this will backfire badly for Cogent. lol

  22. Anders (another one)

    This problem is still present (19th) – amazing that operators are allowed to blackmail each other like that – with zero regards to us users. This should be illegal (someone should “sue” them). If these are 2 of the top 5 it is a searious threat against the Internet (which we rely on for increasingly important tasks). They should not be allowed to “terrorise” regular people. One of those two should face criminal charges in court.