Evaluating Tier 1 Internet providers

Blake Dunlap ikiris at gmail.com
Fri Aug 30 02:43:18 UTC 2013

+10 Good explanation.

This is a lot of why I have someone like Cogent/L3/etc and some random
transit provider in most of my pops I spec, plus a backhaul to another node.

On Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 9:37 PM, Richard A Steenbergen <ras at e-gerbil.net>wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 09:54:28AM -0700, Michael Smith wrote:
> >
> > It's really "can reach" versus "how well can they reach."  I can't any
> > provider that would have less than a full view of the DFZ but, if your
> > primary traffic is to Provider X, and one of your Tier 1's peers
> > locally and the other peers in France, then you would look more
> > closely at the closer one.  Unless, of course, that local peer was
> > saturated 99% of the time.  Then France might be attractive.
> One thing to keep in mind is that for major Tier 1s, it's not at all
> uncommon to see some very large percentages of traffic (like say well
> north of 50%) stay completely on-net, going from customer to customer.
> In this type of model, capacity to other third party peers (typically
> the other Tier 1's) becomes secondary to other considerations like
> backbone capacity, which is why those "huge Tier 1 networks" often have
> much less peering capacity than you might otherwise expect.
> Tier 2's on the other hand, typically spend the vast majority of their
> time/money/effort figuring out how they can deliver traffic to "other
> networks" via peering and transit relationships. This usually means they
> have much smaller amounts of backbone capacity, but relative to their
> total sizes they often have a lot more capacity to the other major
> peering/transit networks.
> The economics of each model are vastly different too. Tier 2's are
> typically always looking to take advantage of tricks like hot potato
> routing and 95th percentile billing to get "free" inbound to minimize
> their backhaul costs. All too often people tend to get caught in the
> mentral trap of thinking "peering == free", but in reality the Tier 1's
> are just shifting the majority of their operational costs into backbone
> instead, and peering becomes the way to handle the "leftovers". Each
> model has its advantages and weaknesses, but most people who haven't
> lived in both worlds tend to vastly underestimate the realities of the
> "other side"'s cost models.
> There is a lot to be said for the value of a Tier 2 network. Sometimes
> throwing a token amount of money at a problem solves it much more
> effectively than waiting for two squabbling Tier 1's to fight over the
> "principal" of not paying anything or risking being perceived as weak.
> And a Tier 2 with multiple transit paths and extensive peering options
> may be able to easily reroute traffic around a particular problem spot
> in a way that a Tier 1 just doesn't have the ability to do. Then again,
> sometimes there is value in just buying transit from someone who
> operates a massive entwork, with the economy of scale necessary to
> implement terabits of backbone capacity for cheap, and a huge customer
> base.
> As for the "which one should I buy" question, a smart person would
> realize the different strengths and weaknesses of each model, and
> probably end up buying from (at least) one of each to take advantage of
> this. Of course in reality 99% of people fail to understand any of this,
> and turn off their brains after thinking things like "1 > 2 so it must
> be better". :)
> --
> Richard A Steenbergen <ras at e-gerbil.net>       http://www.e-gerbil.net/ras
> GPG Key ID: 0xF8B12CBC (7535 7F59 8204 ED1F CC1C 53AF 4C41 5ECA F8B1 2CBC)

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