Sprint v. Cogent, some clarity & facts

Paul Vixie vixie at isc.org
Wed Nov 5 15:11:09 UTC 2008

(note: i don't think sprint or cogent is being evil in this situation.)

<michael.dillon at bt.com> writes:

> Has anyone heard of a backup route? With a longer path so it is never
> used unless there is a real emergency? Why was there no backup route
> available to carry the Sprint <-> Cogent traffic? Because there was a
> political failure in both Sprint and Cogent.

what you're calling a political failure could be what others call a rate
war.  i'd imagine that cogent's cost structure lower than most networks'
(since their published prices are so low and since they're not pumping
new money in from the outside and since they have no non-IP business they
could be using to support "dumping").  if cogent's rates aare also lowest
then the other large networks might be losing customers toward cogent and
those other large networks might feel they are hurting their own cause by
peering, settlement free, with this new-economy competitor.  if that's
the case then the "political failure" you describe might be a matter of
cogent saying "we don't want our prices to our customers to reflect the
capital inefficiencies of other networks" and those other networks saying
"we do."  note, i'm not on the inside and i'm working only from public
knowledge here and so this is all supposition.  but calling it "political
failure" when these possibilities exist seems like a stretch.  there'd be
no other leverage whereby cogent could protect the price point its
customers seem to like so well.  i'm not saying a cogent customer will be
glad to trade some instability to get those prices, but i am saying that
if this long chain of guesses is accurate it likely also represents the
ONLY way to drive efficiency in a competitive capital-intensive market.

> Back in 2000 it was acceptable for the big New York banks to have all
> their eggs in one basket in central Manhattan. In 2002, it was no longer
> acceptable.  Do we really need a 911 magnitude of disaster on the
> Internet for people to wake up and smell the coffee? The Internet is no
> longer a kewl tool built and operated by the cognoscenti to meet their
> own interests. It is now part of every nation's and everbody's critical
> infrastructure. It needs to be engineered and operated better so that it
> does not end up partitioning for dumb reasons.

that sounds like justification for government regulation, if true.
Paul Vixie

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