Nanog mentioned on BBC news website

Deepak Jain deepak at
Thu Jul 23 18:56:36 UTC 2009

> in the case of intervening entities, it is true that they have no link
> to
> the sender or receiver.  my packets from office to home can traverse at
> 3
> or more networks that are not paid by me, or my company.
> they likely have contracts or obligations with their immediate
> neighbours,
> which is basically why the system continues to work.

I'm not sure if this is the benefit for the lurkers or the old guys, or will eventually get recycled in the press and give me a headache, but here goes. 

I think what people seem to keep skipping over is the concept that packets generated from "A" go to ISP "B" who has relationship with C... to pass packets to "Z". From the point of view of "C" all packets from "B" (including "A") are just "B"'s traffic. It's not as simple as I have an agreement with my neighbor and we pass slop around. 

If I am "C", whatever my neighbor is moving is essentially of equal value in my agreement with my neighbor (until one of us chooses to renegotiate it: i.e. peering dispute, whatever). No matter which "A" is sending it to "B".  I don't *really* get the option to pick and choose on a per packet basis.

In the case of three intervening networks, each is aggregating their customers' traffic and passing the relevant portions to the neighboring network (presumably for *their* aggregated customers' traffic). 

This is, in some ways, fundamentally different than the US highway system, where if I'm driving a truck between one state and another, the next state (even though they have interconnection agreements) can set different rules on me than the state I just left. I know this happens with (for example) Michigan and its neighbors. 

In the Internet context, my neighbor is responsible to abide by our agreement and prevent the traffic coming over to me from violating that agreement and I am allowed to police and enforce that border any way I want. 

What this means is that if "A" is affected by something, from my perspective as "C", "B" is absolutely authoritative for the discussion about "A"'s traffic and what to do with it. (No matter how many "B"'s A has contracted with, B and C do not have to ask A for permission for ways/means/methods to move packets). We can agree to drop it on the floor, give it priority or special treatment or generally just ignore it and let the packets pass the way they will. 

This how the so-called community "volunteers" have so much ability to affect and improve the system. Everyone operates in their own fiefdom owing little allegiance (other than those of commerce and equity) to its neighbors. I may charge a tariff to enter my fiefdom, but once packets enter my fiefdom, they are my packets. I protect them, and try to speed them on their way without impediment and I negotiate with others on their behalf to improve their happiness.

And continuing the micro-economics analogy... this is why periodic wars break out between larger fiefdoms and there is little way to influence them to play for the "good" of the system. The only way to influence them is for their own good.


P.S. I've been scratching my head and wondering what this TED thing is all about, it seems like a big cheerleading thing..

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