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Level 3 and Cogent Reach Agreement on Peering 112

Armour Hotdog writes "Level3 and Cogent have announced an agreement on a modified peering contract that provides for settlement-free peering subject to certain unspecified conditions. This is a welcome announcement considering the disruption caused earlier when Level3 depeered Cogent. After that earlier dispute, Level3 temporarily restored peering, but announced that they would once again depeer Cogent on November 9th, unless the parties could come to an agreement."
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Level 3 and Cogent Reach Agreement on Peering

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  • November 9th?

    *waits nerviously for the November 9th press release*
    • Re:Hah (Score:3, Informative)

      Oops - I guess I could have phrased that a little more clearly. The November 9th ultimatum came when Level 3 originally restored peering back on 10/07. Today's agreement supercedes that, so the danger of another depeering (between these two ISPs) has passed unless somebody (read: Cogent) violates the terms of the new agreement.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:09PM (#13898371) Homepage Journal
    I think the "depeering" probably shouldn't have happened, and should not have affected people that weren't involved in the dispute, i.e. the rest of us. Had this happened with any other utility, there would be investigations.
    • WARNING: Trollbait Investigations on what? This is an agreement between two private companies. The only investigation that happened with the NYC power outage was that state investigators went and bothered some poor saps in Edison Power and wondered why they were drawing power from another country. When they got the answer which was "Does everyone want to pay another $200 a year for more power?" they dropped it. This is nothing more than Cogent abusing a public aggreement and then pissing and moaning that
    • You think that because you are an uninformed generalist. You don't really know the facts behind the story, only the results; so you immediately come up with this "conclusion."

      The fact is this: Cogent wasn't paying for the bandwidth they were using from Level3 and wasn't giving Level3 an equal amount of their own (equal sharing of bandwidth is what these peering agreements are all about, and Cogent was upside down by about 10:1), then they were openly courting Level3 customers by offering to charge 1/2 of w
  • Internet Latency (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JhohannaVH ( 790228 )
    Good! Everytime they do this, businesses are affected, on the backend if nothing else. It screws up B2B and EDI xactions like mad. If companies can prove that it affected their bottom line, what recourse do they have???
    • Re:Internet Latency (Score:5, Interesting)

      by elm3r ( 831611 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:19PM (#13898446)
      Not only are businesses affected, but educational institutions are as well. At my workplace, we conduct many internet-based courses that completely *halted* when Level3 depeered Cogent. The professors of those courses had to quickly make major changes to their deadlines and course structure, to work around the outtage. That is the first time such actions have ever had to be taken here (including changes made due to hurricanes).
      • Absolutetly. We also had problems with people getting access to our University site, which *SUCKS* because how else are we supposed to help train all these new insurance adjusters. I feel your pain, seriously.... Especially since many of our transactions were backlogged for days. :( And I don't think our company has ever been seriously affected before like this. We're looking into alternative solutions.
      • Re:Internet Latency (Score:2, Informative)

        by dekemoose ( 699264 )
        Important applications should not be run on single homed networks.
        • Agreed. But when considering the amount of bandwidth needed for a specific institution, multihoming is sometimes cost-prohibitive. Lord knows that it'd cost a fortune to have enough multihomed bandwidth to support this institution.
          • Like the previous poster said, any important applications or networks should be multi-homed.

            A couple solutions that would have avoided outage:

            Single link without BGP:
            Your organization could have purchased its DIA from an ISP that was multi-homed.

            Dual links with BGP:
            Your organization could have purchased a small amount of DIA (relative to your main pipe) from another provider, weighted/prefixed it less desirable than your primary connectivity, and not lost connectivity to L3/Cogent. You could have possibly
      • Doesn't this indicate a problem with the net's underlying design? I was always under the impression that if one peering went offline, even at tier 1, the traffic would simply redirect through any available route (As soon as the routers update).

        Correct me if I'm wrong here, but unless Level 3 and Cogent are the only two tier-1 entities in a network there should be a non-direct route between them, even if it involves going through other peers?
        • Its sort of the big issue with our infrastructure now. The companies are too big to provide that kind of security because of politics involved but if they were smaller then they wouldn't have the capital to make the infrastructure what it is.

          I'd say they made their point with the depeering. One disruption now is better than the company going under later.

          Still, it is scary that one event can have such an impact.
    • Interesting sig you got there...

      To keep this on topic: maybe they can poop on the Internet?
      • *lol* Thanks.... a friend of mine said this yesterday when he got chopped off of Google Talk during the midst of a conversation, and I laughed so hard, it was hysterial. Go fig. :P

        I think they (they being L3/Cogent) already *did* poop on the Internet, hence why the agreement. I'd like to know that this kind of stuff *isn't* going to happen anymore with the agreement. But one can never be so sure.
    • What recourse do they have? They can look around for their frikken SLA. If they don't have one, then it's time for them to realize they aren't paying for guaranteed connectivity.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:12PM (#13898393) Homepage Journal
    After hearing hundreds of posts clamoring for government regulation (ie, slow to respond expensive monopoly), the best solution came quickly.

    Why did this agreement happen? It happened because the market required it. Customers were unhappy, producers lost money, no one profited on either side.

    If we pushed for regulation, how many years and billions of dollars would replace what two corporations did in a week or two on the demands of their customers?
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:15PM (#13898415) Homepage Journal
      When was the last time you remember that Sprint customers were cut off from being able to call MCI subscribers?

      I don't want massive regulation, but something simple to prevent deliberate cut-offs would be nice, and it appears that the free market didn't solve that problem.
      • I use neither Level3 nor Cogent. I use an ISP with a multitude of backbone connections. That's provided by competition which isn't hampered by expensive regulation or licensing.

        As for Sprint and MCI, I've had 5 occasions where my LD provider lost connectivity. I've been using risky 1c/minute phone cards for years and the companies often go belly up, with their 800 #'s pointing to nowhere.

        Don't harm my choices because you use a bad provider.
      • Disclaimer: I'm not a "freemarketsrulefreemarketsrulefreemarketsrule" neocon freak, and I'm not defending the GPs argument *at all*.

        But your analogy sucks because the size comparisons are wrong. If L(3) == Sprint, Cogent == MacleodUSA, not Cogent == MCI.

        Using Sprint & MacleodUSA as an example, they are not required by regulation to exchange minutes of use or maintain any business relationship unless some they have a negotiated a contract. And they may terminate any such agreement, to either one's adva
      • I don't want massive regulation, but something simple to prevent deliberate cut-offs would be nice, and it appears that the free market didn't solve that problem.

        So you are all for the free market except when the free market comes to a conclusion that you disagree with? Is that what you are saying? The free market has solved this problem it just took a little bit of time to converge on the answer.
      • I don't want massive regulation, but something simple to prevent deliberate cut-offs would be nice, and it appears that the free market didn't solve that problem.

        Capitalism is a self correcting system by itself, it is just not instantanious.

        Regulations are not self correcting, and require that people who are being paid under the table by corporations, make the right choice and do what is right. If ABC, Inc. donates enough to congressmen, they get the better end of the regulation stick.

        True Capitalism is si
        • Capitalism is a self correcting system by itself, it is just not instantanious.

          True... However this is very dangerous when it leads to public suffering.

          Take the Great Depression in the 1930's. This of course was because of "total free market" situation without very little government intervention that just went "boom".

          Technically, the failure of free market capitalism in the States lead to Fascism in Europe. (Yeah there are a gazillion other reasons it happened, but without the depressions and the economic f
          • This of course was because of "total free market" situation

            It was because a great number of speculators had bought stocks on margin, and once the fall began, it rippled down quickly because no one could make their margin calls. 10% margins on many stocks.

            I am not against ALL regulations, but there is a broad difference in the Great Depression, and customers going a few days without internet access, which no one had 10 years ago anyway.

            If there was a "Great Internet Crash" or something, then I would be mor

      • If you, hypothetically, bought a single connection to either Level 3 or Cogent, and expected it to be reliable, and were bit by the recent de-peering event, then the problem is that you designed an un-reliable solution.

        If you must buy a single dedicated Internet connection, then buy it from someone who has the redundancy built into their network _AND_ transit agreements.

        If any regulation happens, it shouldn't be to interfere with the business arrangements between Tier 1 providers, it should probably be in t
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually the dispute dates back to early July of this year. Hardly a quick resolution.
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:28PM (#13898498)
      Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for the rest of his life.

      If a government agency just enforced some prior restraint on the companies, what have they learned? Not to do what they did. What have they learned by being forced to solve their problem themselves? Not to do what they did, and also how to successfully negotiate with each other when things go awry, what the market really wants from each firm, how to rapidly re-evaluate corporate strategy in the face of adverse external events -- in short, how to be more "grown-up" in managing their own affairs.
  • by elm3r ( 831611 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:13PM (#13898400)
    In the new agreement, there are clauses that state that Level3 can again try to charge Cogent if their traffic amount is grossly over that of Level3's. So, while this is definitely an improvement, it doesn't rid all potential future problems.

    If anything, this definitely hammers home the idea of multihoming...

    • In the new agreement, there are clauses that state that Level3 can again try to charge Cogent if their traffic amount is grossly over that of Level3's. So, while this is definitely an improvement, it doesn't rid all potential future problems.


      Though you have to wonder how they determine whose traffic is bigger. Surely, if a level3 customer is downloading from a cogent customer, the reverse is also true. If a connection is cut off, there will 2 unsatisfied customers, one on each end of the connection.

      Of cours

    • In the new agreement, there are clauses that state that Level3 can again try to charge Cogent if their traffic amount is grossly over that of Level3's.

      How do you know that? Have you just broken your NDA?

      The press release says:


      Under the terms of the agreement, the companies have agreed to the
      settlement-free exchange of traffic subject to specific payments if certain
      obligations are not met.

      You're right about the multihoming at least. Only a fool isn't multihomed.

  • by DamienNightbane ( 768702 ) * on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:23PM (#13898468)
    Is it just me, or does Level 3's ultimatum sound alot like an old fashioned protection racket? How is this any different from the Don sending someone to smash up someone's shop after the owner misses a payment?

    Is there any way to get law enforcement involved? What about a class action lawsuit?
    • Is it just me, or does Level 3's ultimatum sound alot like an old fashioned protection racket? How is this any different from the Don sending someone to smash up someone's shop after the owner misses a payment?

      No more than the Boston Tea Party was a protection racket. Standing up for your own self-interests isn't insidious or evil.

      In this case Peer1 thought they were getting screwed and wanted out - the other party can either agree to new terms, or take advantage of a competitive marketplace and find someon
    • The only people Level3 is hurting around their own customers. Everyone else could still reach Cogent through other providers but Level3 removed the static routes on their network that directed traffic to Cogent, essentially blackholing them for Level3 customers.
      • Sorry, but that's plainly ignorant. There's no "static routes" on Level3 that send traffic to Cogent. The way peering works is that Cogent announces their routes to Level3 (and UUNet, and Sprint etc.) using the BGP routing protocol at interconnections in their network. UUNet does the same for their routes, Sprint for theirs, and so on. The big boys do NOT announce each others' routes to each others peers, only those routes that they originate or that their downstream customers own. If all of those connectio
        • in some cases, even routing to other tier 1 providers through Level3

          Is there any public corroboration for this? From what I've seen, it certainy appears that Cogent is taking advantage of hot potato routing to make their peers take care of global routing for them, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that they have been using their peers for transit to other networks.
  • by nexUK ( 575458 )
    Tier 1 peering needs to be regulated in certain situations. The Cogent and Level 3 "who has the bigger dick" contest has caused isolated pockets where full routes/reachability to certain parts of the Internet wasn't available for some Cogent and L3 downstream customers. Get these big boys to maintain settlement free peering when a certain amount of the routing table "belongs" to them. simple.
    • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:45PM (#13898620)
      Tier 1 peering needs to be regulated in certain situations.

      I'm for some regulation of the Internet, but not here. These guys went back to the table because they each had guns to their heads; their customers (on both sides) didn't really care whose fault it was and would've started leaving.

      Calling for regulation would likely lead to California energy crisis-type situations: PG&E and Con Ed were both required to retail (at a fixed price) stuff they had to buy wholesale (on the open market) and when the wholesale price went above retail, bankruptcy. (Don't get into market manipulation, that's a peripheral issue). The Internet has been remarkably successful precisely because any yahoo with a router and a cable crimper could build out more of it, without a license, approvals or anything else.

      • Calling for regulation would likely lead to California energy crisis-type situations: PG&E and Con Ed were both required to retail (at a fixed price) stuff they had to buy wholesale (on the open market) and when the wholesale price went above retail, bankruptcy. (Don't get into market manipulation, that's a peripheral issue). The Internet has been remarkably successful precisely because any yahoo with a router and a cable crimper could build out more of it, without a license, approvals or anything else.

    • Right, take the big decisions on networking away from IT CEOs who, whatever their faults of arrogance, need customers if they want their pensions to be secure, and who have stablesful of actual experienced engineers working for them, and instead give control to a bunch of Washington 9-4 lawyers who majored in Government because algebra was hard.

      The problem with wishing abstractly for regulation is that it overlooks the profound difficulty of finding competent regulators who are not already in the business.
      • Generally these decisions are not made by CEOs. They are made by powerhungry network architects at NANOG shindigs. You can picture the scene, vendor sponsored "Cocktail Parties" with bad 80's music, a 1990's wardrobe and ZERO women. These dudes strike up their lovely peering deals after they are wasted on 2 Bud lights, of course they can remove this privilege in heart-beat if you diss their hardware, or top-post on their mailing list.
        • You can picture the scene...

          Indeed I can. Poor bastards. Bud Light and no women, you say? Dante never wrote of this circle of Hell.
    • by Uhlek ( 71945 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @03:32PM (#13898983)
      You're missing the point. Cogent isn't a Tier 1 ISP. They're close, but not quite. To be a Tier 1, that means you don't pay for peering -- period. Cogent does.

      This was a fairly straightforward business problem. Settlement-free peering only occurs when its in the best interests of both parties to do so. There are massive costs still incurred on each end, but they simply don't exchange money. The traffic in both directions is equal enough that neither side is incurring a loss. L3 determined that they were, and announced to Cogent that their settlement-free peering agreement was going to end.

      Rather than doing what they should have done, and either ponied up the cash to L3, or reached a transit agreement with another ISP (say, a tier 2) to receive L3's prefixes and get its own prefixes onto L3's network, Cogent allowed the depeering to occur and used the resulting disruption to the Internet to their own advantage by calling L3 out.

      They, in effect, allowed a major outage to occur in order to avoid paying for transit to L3. L3 gave them something like 90 days notice, plenty of time for Cogent to develop a contingency plan.

      Yet, they didn't. Thier customers immediately became unreachable from L3's network, and their customers were unable to reach L3. They allowed this situation to continue, leveraging it for a public relations backlash against L3, and attempted to lure L3 customers to Cogent.

      I'll be the first to admit my understanding of the issue is not 100% -- so if I'm missing a critical point, please let me know. But, from my understanding, let me be the first to say this is not a major problem with the Internet, nor is it something that regulation would do anything to fix. This is a bullshit back-room business decision by an ISP trying to save a buck and make a name for itself.
      • A simple approach but obviously not the status quo method of deciding on who should pay for what..

        L3 customers are requesting more traffic from Cogents customers then is going the other way. Why is any one direction of traffic considered a load and another considered a source for income and different from each other? It seems to me as these two companies are concerned, more L3 customers desire and need Cogent traffic then Cogent people that need the L3 traffic as noted by the obvious business difference t
      • Level-3 and Cogent are not all that differnet in size. They both cover the US from coast to coast. They both go to Europe. Level-3 goes to Hawaii, but that is the only real footprint difference.

        Cogent has fewer US POPs, but still hits all four corners. Cogent claims 80G backbones. Level-3 claims 110G backbones. Both networks have real 24x7 operations centers and skilled operators.

        You cannot deny that there is a differnce in size between the two companies, but it is pretty easy to describe both as "Tie
  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:25PM (#13898488)

    Are they going to learn their lesson and strike peering agreements with more tier ones then just Level 3?

    • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:37PM (#13898572)
      (with-cluehammer "You don't get it. Tier 1s have lots of peering agreements. A peering agreement with someone else DOESN'T entitle you to use their network to get to a third -- that would be transit. Basically, these guys said they wouldn't exchange traffic directly for free, and they wouldn't pay some other provider to act as a go-between, which, if you understand how these things work (reputation, game theory and all that) is perfectly logical.")
  • The interesting bit (Score:3, Informative)

    by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:32PM (#13898526)
    Oct. 7: We determined that the agreement that we had with Cogent was not equitable to Level 3. [...] Cogent was sending far more traffic to the Level 3 network than Level 3 was sending to Cogent's network.

    Oct. 28: The modified peering arrangement allows for the continued exchange of traffic between the two companies' networks, and includes commitments from each party with respect to the characteristics and volume of traffic to be exchanged. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies have agreed to the settlement-free [i.e. no-charge -- ed.] exchange of traffic subject to specific payments if certain obligations are not met.

    So what happened? It's unlikely Cogent could say "Oh yeah, we'll get 50% more retail customers so as to send traffic your way." Level 3's customers squawked and Cogent insisted they wouldn't pay? (That's Internet Mutually Assured Destruction)

    • the exact details of what was agreed to will probablly never be public

      one possible condition could be moving some of the peering to other locations so level3 has to do less work and cognet has to do more to get the traffic between the desired endpoints. I belive depeerings have caused changes like that in the past.

      another possiblity is the peering is theoretically setlement free but cognet may end up paying some of the "fines" mentioned.

      yet another possibility is as you suggest level 3's customers said enou
  • Level 3 and Cogent are in a pissing contest?? Oh, wait a minute. That was peeRing. My bad.
  • by koehn ( 575405 ) * on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:57PM (#13898732)
    I assume that the phone companies and mobile companies have similar (though not identical) issues to this. Aren't they mandated to provide access to their networks to other providers (e.g., Vonage)? What restrictions/costs are typically involved?
    • In the UK you have something called Termination Call costs, which is a price that the company A charges company B when a customer on company B's network calls a customer on company A.

      There has been much gnashing of teeth over this, because everyone was charging everyone else an arm and a leg (therefore ensuring that a nice fat profit was made) and the government regulator investigated and told the companies to reduce their prices. Don't know if they've done it yet.

    • Phone companies to have similar issues. They are not mandated to provide access if a carrier refuses to pay termination fees. The fuzziness is in exactly what fees are paid (it's different for different kinds of traffic (local v. inter or intra state long distance, international, etc.) for different kinds of carriers (small rural phone companies, urban competitive carriers, etc.)

      The area that's interesting is how small competitive carriers interact with the big boys - no different from tier 1 and tier
  • I am a sys admin for a small atlanta ga ISP, when Level3 de-peered you dialup users that were connecting to Level3 POPs couldnt connect, our call center was flooded and we were scrambling like mad to switch everone over to the Aligence Telcom POPs. L3 really needs to think about the broader ramifications of their actions.

    Also, The internet is suposed to be dynamicaly routed, ya know BGP3 and so on. Why did this break so many things? If the route was down, shouldnt the routers just use the next best preffere
    • The core of the Internet is not run like you think it would be. While BGP is dynamic, when and where various prefixes (network address blocks) are advertised is tightly controlled.

      When you peer with an ISP, that means you only exchange their prefixes for yours. Any other networks that may be reachable via that ISP are not advertised back to you, just like they don't send your prefixes to the rest of the Internet.

      Access to other parts of the Internet via an ISP is called transit -- this is what we're all m
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Level 3 didn't just switch its connection to Cogent off, it left it running and tarpitted any traffic going through it. Like other people are saying, there'd be a class action against them if, say, they were a power company deliberately sending surges into other companies' grids.
  • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @04:10PM (#13899305)
    Dudes, there's a lot of cluelessness here, about tarpitting, routing around failure, next best route etcetera.

    Being a tier 1 means, essentially, HAVING NO DEFAULT ROUTES. You make deals with all the other tier 1 providers for direct connections at various places around the country and, if you can't colocate with a particular tier 1 in a particular geographic location, you pay another provider for transit from you to that tier 1. Being at the top of the pyramid, there's no default route you can hand packets off to when one of your connections fails - because that would mean somebody else was providing you with a free lunch.

    Of course, these guys are constantly squabbling ("we're bigger than you, so you should be paying us for the privilege") but, since disconnecting affects both peers' customers, it's really cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    • I agree with you that there's a relatively large clue void in this whole discussion, but...

      Being a tier 1 means, essentially, HAVING NO DEFAULT ROUTES. ...is wrong too. I work for a regional service provider, we have no default route, and we're not--by any stretch--a tier 1.

      Tier "X" is just a marketing droid term and is technically meaningless. The networks popularly described as tier 1 DON'T BUY TRANSIT SERVICES from other networks. Transit services can be defined as a service where the "transit provide
  • It's this kind of corporate squabbling that lends ammo to those looking to "internationalize" the Internet. You know, to make sure that responsible countries, like China and Iran, can keep the Internet open and free...

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