Observations of an Internet Middleman (Level3) (was: RIP Network Neutrality (was: Wow its been quiet here...

Blake Dunlap ikiris at gmail.com
Sat May 10 15:17:58 UTC 2014


This is a lot of hand waving and self justification to attempt to
validate the practice of [Access Network] trying to charge 3rd party
entities to deliver the content that [Access Network]'s paying
customers have requested over the service they already pay for,
instead of [Access Network] having to themselves pay for the bandwidth
because they know their customers can't leave them, and they know they
have a big enough market presence that they can rent seek with
impunity.

Why pay for transit connectivity expansion, when it financially
benefits you to instead let the links run over full, and charge the
world individually for uncongested access to your captive customers?

-Blake

-Blake

-Blake

On Sat, May 10, 2014 at 10:04 AM, Rick Astley <jnanog at gmail.com> wrote:
> That was an interesting read but it's not the whole story. Skip to the
> TL;DR if you'd like but I'll attempt to explain what happened. What he
> isn't saying is the roles of the companies involved have changed over the
> last 10 years. Mostly gone are the days that content providers and access
> networks each just gave a middleman/transit provider money to reach each
> other. "Content provider" has expanded to become "content delivery network"
> and "access network" has expanded their role to offer transit as well. If
> these networks have a large amount of traffic between them and are able to
> reach each other in multiple locations nationally what is the technical
> reason a 3rd party transit network is required instead of a direct peering
> relationship? From a purely technical perspective content and access at
> that scale can peer directly cutting out the middle man.
>
> The reality is an increasingly directly peered Internet doesn't sit well if
> you are in the business of being the middle man. Now if you will, why do
> transit companies themselves charge content companies to deliver bits? How
> is it fair to be in the business of charging companies to receive their
> bits and hand them to a settlement free peer on the hook to deliver them,
> but not fair for content to just bypass the transit company and enter a
> paid peering agreement with the company delivering the bits? In this case
> paid peering is mutually beneficial to both companies involved and is
> typically cheaper for the content company than it would cost to send that
> traffic over transit.
>
> What we have is a major shift in the market over the last 10 or so years.
> So why are these large nationally connected "access" networks charging
> Level 3 for ports? That's the elephant in the room here and to understand
> that you have to go back to where (to my knowledge) this dispute first went
> public. The most comprehensive description I have seen to date is the
> following Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR1sLLOYxnY
>
> I recommend the video before continuing. "Level 3" is really both Level 3
> transit and Level 3 CDN. Level 3 has already had a long standing precedent
> of justifying the right of an ISP to charge for content delivery. So what
> happens when Level 3 greatly expands their content delivery business and
> sends traffic to other ISP's over settlement free ports? The large access
> networks say "hey, content delivery is a billable service, you should know"
> and they ask Level 3 CDN for compensation. The middleman networks protest
> and say "Charging for content delivery is only OK if we do it, but not when
> you do it!" and their justification for this claim is made on the basis
> that unlike access networks they a) Have a large network and b) send a full
> table of prefixes.
>
> So lets look at the first claim. Are the transit networks large? Yes, but
> especially in the case of North American traffic destined for North America
> they are typically smaller overall than the largest access networks who
> arguably have the lions share of equipment tasked with delivering the bits
> beyond just the colo.
> The 2nd claim is mostly a strawman and this is why. Middlemen still carry
> traffic not destined to directly connected peers but how they bill for it
> is largely based on volume of traffic, not the number of prefixes
> exchanged. The big content providers and the big access networks make up a
> majority of the traffic on the Internet even if they don't make up a
> majority of the prefixes.
>
> TL;DR So the reason the ports are maxed out is the market has changed,
> access networks have attempted to change peering agreements to match the
> existing market conditions but the middleman networks are arguing they
> should be exempt from the long standing tradition of charging for content
> delivery they themselves helped to establish. Some middleman networks have
> responded by refusing payment to access networks for delivery and as a
> result, the paths have not been upgraded and remain congested.
>
> End of TL;DR
>
> The next part is (even) more opinion than fact so you are forgiven if you
> stop here.  My opinion is this is a peering dispute more than something
> that should fall under net neutrality. If content companies sent letters to
> "middlmen" that said "In your statements to the public you made the case
> that content delivery to ISP's should be settlement free so we have decided
> to take your offer and refuse any further payment to you from here forward"
> how would they handle it? Likely those companies would not only find
> themselves congested but depeered.
>
> A bunch of people say charging at both ends is double dipping but really
> modern access networks are now at least partly filling the role of transit
> as well as last mile delivery. Where "content" "transit" and "access" all
> have a presence in the same colo, paying more money to send traffic through
> transit first instead of just directly to access because of some dated
> definition of what the roles of those companies are supposed to be doesn't
> make sense to me. Hijacking NN to attempt to bring litigation into the
> matter to protect an old business model from a changing market makes even
> less sense. Seeing Level 3 publish half truths in what looks like an
> attempt to mislead the public on the matter is disappointing. I would
> expect it from maybe Cogent but I have higher expectations of Level 3.
>
> Broadband providers obviously aren't without some blame in the matter
> either. One of them is allowing customer satisfaction to be so low that
> they are easy targets for misinformation as most the comments I have seen
> on the matter to date are more emotional than rational. They have other
> mistakes too but for the purpose of keeping this brief and because some of
> them have been heavily documented elsewhere I'll save them for another day.
>
>
> On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 1:18 PM, =JeffH <Jeff.Hodges at kingsmountain.com>wrote:
>
>> Observations of an Internet Middleman (Level3)
>> http://blog.level3.com/global-connectivity/observations-
>> internet-middleman/
>>
>> See also...
>>
>> Level 3 accuses five unnamed US ISPs of abusing their market power in
>> peering
>> http://gigaom.com/2014/05/05/level-3-accuses-five-unnamed-
>> us-isps-of-abusing-their-market-power-in-peering/
>>
>> "...
>> I’d love to see Cogent, Google and other providers release their data
>> next, so even if the FCC doesn’t want to pursue this, a growing cry of
>> consumer outrage could push the agency to do something about a very real
>> and difficult problem that’s crippling access to video content on 5 U.S.
>> broadband networks. Level 3 didn’t name names, but based on the deals
>> Netflix has signed and the complaints it has made about AT&T, I’m confident
>> that AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are among the five. "
>>
>>
>> =JeffH
>>
>>
>>
>>


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