BBN Peering issues (fwd)

Curt Howland howland at
Mon Aug 17 17:13:52 UTC 1998


I couldn't agree more. BBN (GTEI) is only doing what Sprint started
doing about 3 years ago, when some associates of mine tried to turn
up peering with them. All these arguments about traffic flow were
used then, by so-called "engineers" no less!

One place I worked I had to answer trouble calls from people who
couldn't get to our customers, and customers who couldn't get to
specific sites, to a particular four-letter network I won't mention.
Their customers were NOT glad to hear that the reason they couldn't
get to our customers was because the four-letter network had refused
to peer.

But the status-quo has changed. Remember the charter of the FCC,
to regulate "scarce resource" communications. What happens when
some brain-dead congress-crawler starts getting calls from their
constituents that "we bought internet service but couldn't get to

Some staffer takes a 30 second look into the problem, and decides
that peering is *so* overwhemed that in order for everyone to reach
everyone else the Government should step in and regulate it.

The 'Net gives some measure of universal connectivity because it
was driven at its root by engineering. Who on NANOG, with any real
world experience in networking, denies that maximum open peering
benefits everyone?

This decision, and the arguments in favor of pay-per-peer, has 
nothing to do with engineering. It has to do with paper-pushers
who wouldn't know the difference between peering and transit if
it were on 500 power-point slides, because they look at MONEY. They
see "bits per second", and who they came from, and conclude that
those packets are not sourced on their network and therefore someone
should be paying for them specifically.

And, when the engineering breaks because a political answer is
trying to be imposed on a technical problem, and Little Jonhy can't
get to for his school assignment, the cry will go up
to "protect the children" and regulation will fall faster than
Madame LaFarge ever thought possible.

Then those same "pay-per-peer" morons will get appointed to the
governing body of Internet Communications, just like the Railroad
Barrons of the late 19th Century, and history will endlessly 
repeat, again.

Thanks, Erik, for the pointer on the AT&T monopoly. Do you have a


----- Begin Included Message -----

>From: "Erik E. Fair" <fair at>
Subject: Re: BBN Peering issues
Sender: owner-nanog at
Content-Length: 1119

There is a customer perception, dating from the earliest days of the
Internet that when you connect to the Internet, you will be able to reach
all sites that are up, everywhere. That this is still mostly true is a
tribute to the hard work of a lot people on this list, and elsewhere. So
far, the cases for which this is not true are small in both number and
relative importance.

If this perception breaks down, watch out. Theodore Vail was allowed to
create the regulated monopoly AT&T in the early part of this century on the
promise of Universal Service, which meant not only that everyone had a
telephone, but that *all* telephones could call *all* other telephones -
one big, happy, PSTN.

The Internet presents this kind of universality today without the
regulation, but don't doubt for a second that if the ISPs (of whatever
size) begin destructive pissing matches of the form "I'm bigger than you,
pay me or we disconnect" that the FCC will be pressured to regulate the
ISPs in such a way to guarantee the universal connectivity aspect of the

Your customers will demand it.

	Erik <fair at>

----- End Included Message -----

More information about the NANOG mailing list