TWT - Comcast congestion

Richard A Steenbergen ras at
Wed Dec 1 11:22:24 CST 2010

On Wed, Dec 01, 2010 at 06:31:39AM -0800, Leo Bicknell wrote:
> In a message written on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 10:59:25PM -0600, Richard A Steenbergen wrote:
> > I believe that's what I said. To be perfectly clear, what I'm saying is:
> > 
> > * Comcast acted first by demanding fees
> > * Level 3 went public first by whining about it after they agreed to pay
> > * Comcast was well prepared to win the PR war, and had a large pile of 
> >   content that sounds good to the uninformed layperson ready to go.
> I think I can make this very simple.  What I am saying is that
> you're missing a step before your 3 bullet points.  Before any of
> the three things you describe, Level 3 demanded fees from Comcast.
> Level 3 is doing a great job of getting folks to ignore that fact.

Do you have any basis for this claim, or are you just making it up 
as a possible scenario that would explain Comcast's actions? I have 
it on good authority that Level 3 did not attempt to raise their 
prices or ask for additonal fees beyond their existing contract, 
nor was their contract coming to term where they could "renegotiate" 
for more favorable terms. Comcast simply said, we've decided we don't 
want to pay you, you should pay us instead, and you're going to bend 
over and like it if you want to be able to reach our customers.

Obviously the version I've heard and the version you're pitching 
can't co-exist, so either you have some REALLY interesting inside 
info that I don't (which I honestly find hard to believe given 
your knowledge of the facts so far), or you're stating a theory 
with no possible basis that I can find as a fact. If it's just 
a theory, please say so, then we don't keep having to argue these 
positions that can clearly never converge.

> Comcast is a customer of L3, and pays them for service.  Brining
> on Netflix will cause Comcast to pay L3 more.  More interestingly,
> in this case it's likely Level 3 went to Comcast and said we don't
> think your existing customer ports will handle the additional
> should buy more customer ports.

Comcast is th customer, they have complete and total control of the 
traffic being exchabged over their transit ports. If they wanted 
less traffic, they could announce fewer routes, or add more 
no-export communities. They also have complete control of traffic 
being sent outbound, and since Level3 is more than capable of 
handling 300Gbps (the capacity comcast claims they have), if 
Comcast actually had 300Gbps of outbound traffic to send they 
could easily have had a 1:1 ratio.

Framing this as a peering ratio debate is absurd, because there 
two networks were NEVER peers. Any customer could have sent 
addtional bits to Level3 at any time, and Comcast should be 
prepared to deal with the TE as a result. That's life on the 

> Does network neutrality work both ways?  If it is bad for Comcast
> to hold the users hostage to extort more money from Level 3, is it
> also bad for Level 3 to hold the content hostage to extort more
> money from Comcast?

You know, most people manage to buy sufficient transit capacity to 
support the volume of traffic that their customers pay them to 
deliver. Only Comcast seems to feel that it is proper to use their 
captive customer base hostage to extort content networks into paying 
for uncongested access. Level 3 is free to sell full transit or CDN 
to whomever they like, just as Comcast is free to not buy transit 
from Level 3 when their contract is up. The net neutrality part 
starts when Level 3 is NOT free to turn off their customer for 
non-payment just like what would happen to anyone else who suddenly 
decided they didn't think they should keep paying their bills, 
because Comcast maintains so little transit capacity that to shut 
them off would cause mssive disruptions to large portions of the 

Richard A Steenbergen <ras at>
GPG Key ID: 0xF8B12CBC (7535 7F59 8204 ED1F CC1C 53AF 4C41 5ECA F8B1 2CBC)

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