The FCC is planning new net neutrality rules. And they could enshrine pay-for-play. - The Washington Post

Matthew Petach mpetach at
Mon Apr 28 08:25:21 UTC 2014

On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 9:57 PM, Rick Astley <jnanog at> wrote:

> Here is a quote I made in the other thread around the same time you were
> sending this:
> "I also think the practice of paying an intermediary ISP a per Mbps rate in
> order to get to a last mile ISP over a settlement free agreement is also a
> bit disingenuous in cases where the amount of traffic is sufficient enough
> to fill multiple links. Theoretically there are many times where the
> intermediary ISP can hand off the traffic to a last mile ISP in exactly the
> same building they received it in so they have very few of the costs of
> actually delivering the traffic yet are the only party receiving money from
> the content provider for delivery. This arrangement makes sense when the
> traffic to the last mile ISP is a percentage of one link but after enough
> links are involved the intermediary ISP is serving no real other purpose
> than as a loophole used to circumvent paid peering fees (right or wrong)."

But that scenario only applies where the
content network has carried the traffic
to the same building as the eyeball
network, such that it really does just
go from the content provider, into
the cheapTransit router, and then
right back out to the eyeball network.
At that point, the content provider and
eyeball network are paying roughly
commensurate amounts for their
infrastructure costs; the content
provider to get the data to that
common location, and the eyeball
network to get it from that location
back to the customers who requested
it.   I'm not sure why you think it's a
loophole of any sort; if anything, it's
an anti-loophole, as the most efficient
answer would be for the content network
and eyeball network to directly interconnect,
having each hauled circuits to this point in
common--but instead, due to policies, an
intermediary is forced into the picture.

And your understanding of transit seems to
be tenuous at best.  You say "are the only party
receiving money from the content provider for delivery"
as though it's a bad thing, or some unusual circumstance.
This is exactly what transit is.  I pay an upstream provider
to carry my route advertisements and bits to the rest of
the world, regardless of how near or far it is.  You do the
same thing as a broadband customer; you pay one
provider for access, regardless of how many content
providers you pull down content from.  It sounds like
you would advocate a model where every content
source pays every eyeball network that requests
its content, and every broadband subscriber pays
to every network it requests content from, rather
than the current model of paying one upstream
transit provider for connectivity to the rest of
the internet.  Is that really the case?  Is that
really what you're advocating for?

> I think we are in agreement that $EyeballNetwork's customers pay it for
> internet access and $ContentProvider should pay for their own pipes. But
> where we diverge is with $CheapTransitProvider.

OK, how about we substitute "NotSoCheapTransitProvider"
into the equation.  Now, does that make the situation any
different in your eyes?  Or do you still feel that fundamentally
transit is only something that eyeball networks can pay for,
that content networks must not pay a single upstream, but
must instead pay every eyeball network separately, regardless
of how inefficient and expensive that would be?

> At least for the purpose of traffic following the path of $ContentProvider
> > $CheapTransitProvider > $EyeballNetwork's because there is so much
> traffic involved the only real purpose of the relationship with
> $CheapTransitProvider is a loophole to get around paying $EyeballNetwork.
> They are able to charge ridiculously low delivery prices because traffic is
> only on their network for just long enough to say it touched and should now
> be considered settlement free. It's little more than a cheap trick and it
> makes them sort of the Cash4Gold of the Internet. I can completely
> understand why $EyeballNetwork would tell $CheapTransitProvider they no
> longer choose to have a settlement free agreement and they must buy future
> ports.

And in that model, I think it would be entirely correct
for the content provider to either deny access to their
content for users of ExtortionistEyeballNetwork, or to
charge them additional for access to the content, to
offset the increased costs of paying for the ports to
that network.  After all, unlike your flawed traffic flow,
it's not the content network pushing bits at the
eyeball network; it's the eyeball network sucking the
bits down from the content provider.

If the eyeball network feels that volume of traffic
is problematic for them, such that they can't afford
to augment capacity, the clear answer is for the
content providers to help out the poor, congested
eyeball networks by reducing the bitrate of content
so that those links won't be congested anymore.
Serve up HD streams to networks that work
cooperatively to augment capacity for their users;
for networks that won't cover their share of the
costs of augmenting, simply serve lower and
lower bitrate streams to fit within the available
link capacity, with a little banner across the
top alerting the consumer that their experience
is degraded due to their provider not adequately
installing infrastructure to handle the consumer's
requested traffic.

More information about the NANOG mailing list