Sprint / Cogent dispute over?

Paul Vixie vixie at isc.org
Mon Nov 3 14:14:29 UTC 2008

note that i have friends at both sprint and cogent and i'm not taking sides.

"James Hess" <mysidia at gmail.com> writes:

> I would say it's a "peering spat", because Cogent's press releases stated
> Sprint failed to meet Sprint's "contractual obligation" to peer with them
> on a settlement-free basis.  That's a political issue that (I expect)
> remains to be mediated by the courts.

if cogent signed a trial peering contract which required payment if sprint
determined after three months that cogent did not qualify, then the court's
open questions are was the contract valid (and thus, does cogent owe sprint
money) and why isn't there some kind of common carriage law for IP like in
dialtone to protect the end users from these types of partition events?  i
guess we'll all see and discuss the filings here.  perhaps cogent countersued
on some grounds having to do with the interconnect itself, but with wvfiber
standing ready to act as a friend of the court, that's a dangerous game.

> The disconnection should have been eminently forseeable by Cogent, if the
> entire peering was indicated by Sprint as being on a "trial basis". To
> maintain connectivity, Cogent should have had a contingency in place and
> taken it, when Sprint rejected their request for settlement-free peering.

by that reasoning shouldn't sprint have also had such a contingency plan?

> There is something a bit worst for a single-homed customer than a Tier 1
> provider that gets in peering spats; that IS: being single-homed to a
> provider who wants to say they're "Tier 1" when in fact: they may
> _really_ be a Tier 2 in disguise.
> And who as a result of wanting to market themselves "Tier 1" refuses to
> pay their paid peering fees.

this is similar to the logic PSI gave me when i was at MFN.  of course, both
companies later went through bankruptcy (but only one came out again).  but
i remember getting PSI's demand for payment for peering, looking at network
maps, saying "but, my network is BIGGER than yours, more routers, more/fatter
pipes, more peering edges, more traffic" and asking "why would i pay you?"
but according to PSI they had more eyeballs and i had a ratio problem.  note
that MFN *did* make arrangements for our customers to reach and be reached by
PSI's customers before the date PSI told us they were shutting down peering.
(and, the fact that PSI was behind on their their payments to MFN for dark
fiber IRU's helped my case considerably.)

i re-raise this story not because i'm still pissed off about it, but because
peering spats *always* involve assertions of unfairness from both sides. it's
just business, and it's all part of the game.  ultimately somebody will blink.

> ...
> Because a Tier 2 posing and marketing as a Tier 1 might prioritize their
> continued marketing themselves as a Tier 1 over actually providing Tier 1
> connectivity.
> Government regulation of peering relationships would be a disaster...  I
> fear regulatory organizations are too easily influenced by the largest
> players.
> ...

the very fact that folks speak about tiers here may be a red flag to
regulators.  forgetting the "t" word for the moment, peering is a business
decision involving both tactical cost:benefit and strategic cost:benefit,
and ultimately we can expect cogent and sprint to work it out on that basis,
not on the "t" word basis.
Paul Vixie

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