Definition of ISP vs Transit provider

Thomas Edwards Thomas.Edwards at
Wed Nov 22 22:14:03 UTC 2017

Regarding transit and traffic exchange, in today’s FCC Declaratory Ruling: 

166. Deregulating Internet Traffic Exchange. Today, we return to the pre-Title II Order status quo by classifying broadband Internet access service as an information service, and in doing so, reverse the extension of Title II authority to Internet traffic exchange arrangements.603 There is no dispute that ISPs, backbone transit providers, and large edge providers are sophisticated, well-capitalized businesses.604 Indeed, the Title II Order acknowledged as much,605 and refused to impose “prescriptive rules” or even “draw policy conclusions concerning new paid Internet traffic arrangements.”606 Notwithstanding, the Title II Order cast a shadow on new arrangements in this sector by applying a range of common carrier requirements to Internet traffic exchange.

167. We believe that applying Title II to Internet traffic exchange arrangements was unnecessary and is likely to inhibit competition and innovation. We find that freeing Internet traffic exchange arrangements from burdensome government regulation, and allowing market forces to discipline this emerging market is the better course.607 Indeed, the cost of Internet transit fell over 99 percent on a cost-per-megabit basis from 2005 to 2015.608

168. We welcome the growth of alternative Internet traffic exchange arrangements, including direct interconnection, CDNs, and other innovative efforts. All parties appear to agree that direct interconnection has benefited consumers by reducing congestion, increasing speeds, and housing content closer to consumers, and allowed ISPs to better manage their networks.609 CDNs play a similar role.610 We believe that market dynamics, not Title II regulation, allowed these diverse arrangements to thrive.611 Our decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as an information service, and to remove Title II utility-style regulation from Internet traffic exchange, will spur further innovation in this market.612 Returning to the pre-Title II Order light-touch framework will also eliminate the asymmetrical regulatory treatment of parties to Internet traffic exchange arrangements.613 As NTCA explains, the Title II Order imposed a one-sided interconnection duty upon last-mile ISPs—even though, especially in rural
areas, “many ISPs are a tiny fraction of the size of upstream middle mile and transit networks or content and edge providers.”614 The record reflects that the asymmetric regulation reduced incentives to share costs, and we anticipate that eliminating one-sided regulation of Internet traffic exchange and restoring regulatory parity among sophisticated commercial entities will allow the parties to more efficiently allocate the costs arising from increased demands on the network.615


Thomas Edwards
FOX Networks Engineering & Operations
VP Engineering & Development
thomas.edwards at
10201 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

On 11/22/17, 12:36 PM, "NANOG on behalf of Jean-Francois Mezei" <nanog-bounces at on behalf of jfmezei_nanog at> wrote:

    The FCC is about to reclassify "Broadband Internet Access Service" as an
    information service instead of Telecommunications Service. This
    prombpted the following question which isn't about the FCC action per say.
    This is about how does one define Transit provider vs ISP ?
    Cogent for instance acts as a transit provider to other networks but
    also sells connectivity to companies.
    Peer1 in Canada used to sell "transit" to a then small emerging ISP, but
    as its sole transit provider, provided the BGP management as well as
    peering at Torix.  Is the service to the ISP still called "transit" ?
    Or would ISP be defined as the organsation which assigns IPs to end
    users via PPPoE of DHCP ?
    One could argue that a network which assigns 4 or less IPs per customer
    would be an ISP. But what about IPv6 where the ISP could give each end
    user a /64 ?
    Just curious to see if there are agreed upon definitions from the
    network operators's point of view.
    I note that large companies tend to do everything from transit, to
    residential ISP, business ISP, libraries, airports etc. For Bell Canada,
    it is almost all under AS577. So separating what is telecom and what is
    information becomes more "interesting".
    As a point of reference this is what I *think* the FCC defines as an ISP:
    23. Broadband Internet access service also does not include virtual
    private network (VPN) services, content delivery networks (CDNs),
    hosting or data storage services, or Internet backbone services (if
    those services are separate from broadband Internet access service),
    consistent with past Commission precedent.69 The Commission has
    historically distinguished these services from “mass market” services,
    as they do not provide the capability to transmit data to and receive
    data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints.70 We do not
    disturb that finding here.
    24. Finally, we observe that to the extent that coffee shops,
    bookstores, airlines, private end- user networks such as libraries and
    universities, and other businesses acquire broadband Internet access
    service from a broadband provider to enable patrons to access the
    Internet from their respective establishments, provision of such service
    by the premise operator would not itself be considered a broadband
    Internet access service unless it was offered to patrons as a retail
    mass market service, as we define it here.71 Likewise, when a user
    employs, for example, a wireless router or a Wi-Fi hotspot to create a
    personal Wi-Fi network that is not intentionally offered for the benefit
    of others, he or she is not offering a broadband Internet access
    service, under our definition, because the user is not marketing and
    selling such service to residential customers, small business, and other
    end-user customers such as schools and libraries.
    The full 210 proposed FCC decision is at:

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