The Big Squeeze

Michael Dillon michael at
Sun Mar 2 04:40:09 UTC 1997

On Sat, 1 Mar 1997, Scott Huddle wrote:

> If different providers were to sell routing "slots"
> on their network such that an ISP could guarantee that
> their announcements would be accepted (regardless of 
> address length) this would seem to solve the problems
> of both those that can't "justify" a big block and
> those of the providers that want to control the use
> of their resources on their network as well.
> It appears that you're primary argument is one of 
> fairness and level playing field for all comers
> regardless of size, and I think this is a worthy
> goal if it can be done technically.  

I think this is more than a technical problem. It also impacts
relationships (i.e. peering) and it becomes a business issue since
money is changing hands. For this to work a core network provider would
have to do several things.

1. set a fee schedule for routing slots and determine what the conditions
   of sale will be so that every Tom, Dick and Jane doesn't try to
   buy a /24 slot for their PowerMAC webserver with ISDN TA attached.
2. negotiate the peering relationships with at least the other
   core network providers such that they can provide a reasonably
   certain guarantee that the announcements will be accepted by their
   peers. Note that this does *NOT* neccessarily require settlements.
3. set up a feedback loop so that routing table growth does not go crazy.
   IMHO this would need to involve some sort of a quota system whereby
   the group of core network providers who have agreed to listen to
   purchased announcements will also agree how many such slots per month
   can be sold based solely on technical considerations. The sales
   force would then be given an inventory of routing table slots that
   they can sell and when they are gone, they are gone.
4. deal with antitrust issues. Because of the close coordination needed
   by the core network providers to make this work, as soon as prices
   for routing slots stabilize there will be charges of price-fixing. 
   This needs to be dealt with up-front, and IMHO, it is the single
   most important issue because a) failure to do it properly will cause
   severe financial penalties to hit the providers and b) doing it 
   properly will cost significant dollars in lawyers fees.

Also, this becomes an international trade issue. North America covers more
than one country and, as you are all well aware, most major European and
Asian and Australian providers do peer at North American IXP's or are 
planning to do so in the near future.

I wouldn't expect to see any quick solution to this problem but it is
probably a good idea to start looking at the technical and other issues
right now. It looks like the next generation of routers will be upon us
by the middle of the year and the limits on routing table size will be
significantly increased. The question is, what happens next?

Simply loosening up the filters to allow /20's or /21's will not create as
many problems as it solves. People whose equipment cannot handle routing
tables with 80,000 - 90,000 routes will not be happy and their could be
some serious antitrust implications as a result.

The bottom line is that we need to have a consensus on how to take the
next step and this mailing list is probably not the best place to work it
out. The business and legal issues really belong on PIARA. Send


to the address piara-request at

Note that in the past, PIARA has been focussed on the idea of selling IP
allocations but that idea really never caught on and is basically dead for
now. But the idea of selling routing table slots was never discussed much
on PIARA so there is really no point in reading the list archives. Just
join the list and start posting.

Michael Dillon                   -               Internet & ISP Consulting
Memra Software Inc.              -                  Fax: +1-250-546-3049             -               E-mail: michael at

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