Evaluating Tier 1 Internet providers

Justin M. Streiner streiner at cluebyfour.org
Tue Aug 27 16:17:19 UTC 2013

On Tue, 27 Aug 2013, Eric Louie 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?

Define "Tier 1 provider".  I ask this because it's something that many 
people don't know what it means, but assume that Tier 1 > Tier !=1.

> routing stability

Routeviews.org can shed some light here.

> BGP community offerings

If $provider has a page on www.peeringdb.com, they might publish a list of 
their BGP communities there.  Other places to look would be the provider's 
whois/IRR entries, and on their respective websites, or the 
sales/marketing folks might be able to get this information for you.

> congestion issues

There are various internet traffic report / weather report sites that can 
give you indirect insight into things like.  By indirect, I mean that you 
might be able to infer things like congestion at a specific point based on 
what you see on those sites.

> BGP Peering relationships

You can look at pages like www.peeringdb.com, and you will typically see 
if $provider is at an exchange, however the peering relationships that 
many providers have other providers (locations, speeds, etc) are 

> path diversity

You can ask $provider's sales and marketing folks, but there is no 
guarantee that you will get an answer (actual routes are considered 
confidential and proprietary information, despite the fact that a lot of 
providers' fiber ends up converging in a small handful of routes in some 
areas - i.e. many of them follow the same set of railroad tracks or cross 
a river at the same bridge, possibly even in the same conduit) or a 
correct answer (wave X might be re-groomed onto path Y without a whole 
lot of customer notification).

> IPv6 table size

Sites like routeviews.org can give you some visibility here.

> Seems like everyone offers 5 9's service, 45 ms coast-to-coast, 24x7
> customer support, 100/1Gbps/10Gbps with various DIR/CIR and burst rates.
> I'm shopping for new service and want to do better than choosing on
> reputation.  (or, is reputation also a criteria?)

Absolutely reputation should be a factor.  I would argue that Internet 
access is largely commoditized anymore (and has been for several years), 
so the real differentiators are cost and level of service.


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