"Tier 1" vs. all. Was: Sprint v. Cogent, some clarity & facts

Eric Van Tol eric at atlantech.net
Mon Nov 3 15:02:17 UTC 2008

> -----Original Message-----
> From: michael.dillon at bt.com [mailto:michael.dillon at bt.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 03, 2008 8:55 AM
> Let's put it another 'nother way.
> Would an end user get better connectivity by buying from a
> reseller of transit? In other words, buying transit from
> a network which also buys transit. Presumably up near the
> top of the chain (Tier 1 vicinity), that transit reseller
> has a lot of peering in place with other folks in the same
> neighborhood (Tier 1 vicinity). But as long as a network
> is a transit reseller (i.e. they buy transit), then they
> are less likely to suffer from partition events caused
> by fractious peering negotiations.
> --Michael Dillon

Can anyone explain to me why end users find it so important to label carriers as "Tier 1" or "Tier 2"?  The prevailing theory in the heads of prospective customers is that a "Tier 1" is somehow inherently better than a "Tier 2" (or lower), even though they don't quite understand the concepts behind why the "Tier" designation even exist(s/ed).  These labels, at least to me, are no longer very relevant in today's internet world.  In fact, would anyone agree that being a "Tier 1", as Cogent believes themselves to be, leaves that network in a very painful position when things like their frequent peering disputes happen?

For an NSP, it's obviously a "good thing" to be SFI-only, as in theory, it _should_ lower your costs.  YMMV, as mentioned in a previous thread.  However, what does it really matter to an end-user, especially if they are biased towards using "Tier 1" networks only?  Why does a network who purchases transit give the impression to end users that that network's internet genitalia is somehow smaller than, say, Verizon or AT&T?  I can see merit in touting the size and coverage of the actual network, but it's always been my understanding that this is not the true definition of the tiered system.


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