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

Paul WALL pauldotwall at gmail.com
Sat May 10 21:53:44 UTC 2014

It is important to consider bias and factual accuracy of the material.
 George Ou was working for Comcast and AT&T as a lobbyist at the time
he produced the Youtube video.

Drive Slow,
Paul Wall

On Sat, May 10, 2014 at 3:04 PM, 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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