Evaluating Tier 1 Internet providers

Joe Abley jabley at hopcount.ca
Tue Aug 27 19:14:47 UTC 2013

On 2013-08-27, at 15:02, Eric Louie <elouie at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Based on various conversation threads on Nanog I've come up with a few
> criteria for evaluating Tier 1 providers.  I'm open to add other criteria -
> what would you add to this list?  And how would I get a quantitative or
> qualitative measure of it?
> routing stability
> BGP community offerings
> congestion issues
> BGP Peering relationships
> path diversity
> IPv6 table size

I would add:

 - presence of staff in key locations (if 60 Hudson is a critical location for you, find out whether there's someone regularly present in or near the building to clean fibre and help run loopback tests when you need them)

 - expected time to clue when calling the support number (bonus points for being xkcd-806 compliant)

 - time taken to turn around BGP import filter changes

 - response you can expect when you call one day and say "our 10GE is maxed out with inbound traffic from apparently everywhere, it has been going on for an hour, please help"

 - billing accuracy, and turnaround time for questions raised about invoices received

A lot of this comes down to conversations in the NANOG bar with people who have war stories to share. To that extent, I think "reputation" is a good indicator, so long as your sample size is reasonable, and depending on the amount of beer involved.

One other thing to think about -- Tier 1 providers are transit free, so your "can be reached by an IP packet from" is naturally limited to specific peering relationships with other Tier 1 providers. Tier 2 providers (those who buy transit from a suitably-diverse set of Tier 1s) can insulate you from route fade due to peering spats.


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