Why don't ISPs peer with everyone?

Kenny Sallee kenny.sallee at gmail.com
Tue Jun 7 16:51:25 UTC 2011

On Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 9:08 AM, Rettke, Brian <Brian.Rettke at cableone.biz>wrote:

> Content providers (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube) will always try to get
> their content serviced for little to no cost. The low cost, web-only plan
> isn't sustainable, and the amount of Netflix traffic around the globe is a
> good example; There's a lot of traffic that they aren't paying for.  The
> free market only works if entities self-police. But as has been expertly
> stated, there's no money in that.
> I had an idea, I'm sure it's been said before:
> If we actually had solid "Tier 1 vs Tier 2 vs Tier 3" thresholds, and we
> could come up with an agreeable metric, we might be able to minimize the
> impact of bandwidth hogs (sorry Netflix, pointing at you).
First - I don't work for Netflix!  I'm a consumer of their product and a
network engineer who mostly gets stuff.

So I'd like to offer a point of distinction that's kinda bugged me whenever
these conversations pop up here: Netflix the company
doesn't consume bandwidth nor are *they* a bandwidth hog.  The consumer is
the bandwidth hog.  And the consumer pays their ISP for that bandwidth.
ISP's over provision in the hopes that most folks won't use what they are
paying for and to help keep costs down (very valid).  Companies like Netflix
and even Google (I don't know this for a fact - just making logical
assumptions) are not going to rely on peering arrangements of ISPs to
deliver 100% of their traffic.  If they did they'd place their business
model in the hands of network operators who don't have Netflix's best
interests in mind.  They are going to use caching like products or services
to bring their content closer to the consumer, develop them to be bandwidth
and latency aware, or even make peering arrangements on their own (to your
point).  These peering arrangements and products they purchase / pay for are
most likely located within Tier 1 networks in the USA.  So technically, if
my assumptions are correct, Netflix probably is paying for their bandwidth
that exits their network.  And the consumer is paying for their bandwidth.
Now - Netflix like content providers may cause some of the ISP's to rethink
their over provisioning strategies, but that's not my problem.  I'm paying
for my bandwidth, therefore, I want to use it for what I want when I want.
 It's my ISP's job to deliver what I'm paying for.  This is just my .02 and
that tangent is over for now!

To the original poster - I think it'd be technically impossible to have
every ISP plugged into every ISP, physically ($$ issues aside).  How many
ISPs are there and how many routers / ports would you need?  And I'm pretty
sure that most Tier 1 ISP's peer with each other - but that's an assumption
not made of fact.

Maybe someday when there really are no bandwidth or latency limitations an
overlay routing model could abstract the physical issues we all deal with
and everyone can logically peer with everyone (although I'm not sure even
that would make sense) but until then a hierarchical model (Tier 1 vs Tier2
etc..) seems to me to make the most sense. Anyway, the implementation of
that hierarchical Internet is driven by $$ of course.


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