Evaluating Tier 1 Internet providers

Eric Louie elouie at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 27 20:41:19 UTC 2013

Good stuff Justin - Any other criteria that you would use?

much appreciated,
Eric Louie

-----Original Message-----
From: Justin M. Streiner [mailto:streiner at cluebyfour.org] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:17 AM
To: nanog at nanog.org
Subject: Re: Evaluating Tier 1 Internet providers

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 confidential.

> 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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