Shady SPRINT STATEMENT TO CUSTOMERS ON ITS DEPEERING WITH COGENT COMMUNICATIONS
Dear Valued Customers,
On Thursday, October 30th, Sprint Nextel completed a disconnection of its network from Cogent Communications. This action was taken by Sprint after Cogent breached its contract and failed to pay for its ongoing connection to the Sprint network, despite repeated collections attempts by Sprint.
Until this issue is resolved, Sprint will continue to work tirelessly to the extent within our control to mitigate the effects on customers. As part of an interim solution, Sprint initiated a temporary reconnection to the Cogent network on Sunday, November 2nd so that customers would have temporary access while longer-term alternate and permanent access options are explored.
We emphasize that this reconnection is temporary only, as the core issues in this dispute have not changed. Cogent was notified in advance of the November 2nd reconnection; therefore, any access disruptions occurring during this temporary period are the sole result of a negative reaction instigated by Cogent against the customers of both parties.
Sprint deeply regrets any inconvenience caused by this issue and we do not take our actions lightly given frustrations experienced by customers of both parties.
In 2006, Cogent sought a peering trial agreement in the hopes that it would lead to settlement-free peering status with Sprint. Settlement-free peering is a contractual relationship in which two companies exchange Internet traffic without charging each other. This arrangement is only fair if the two parties exchange roughly equal volumes of traffic across the two networks. Prior to this trial period, Cogent utilized third parties for full Internet connectivity.
Following a three-month commercial trial agreement during June - September 2007, the peering trial data indicated that Cogent did not meet the minimum traffic exchange criteria agreed to by both parties. As a result, settlement-free peering was not established and Cogent was notified in writing of these results. Despite this fact, and after repeated discussions, Cogent failed to disconnect itself from the Sprint network or compensate Sprint for the ongoing connection.
Sprint has repeatedly notified Cogent in writing of payment past due and our intent to take action if the issue was left unresolved. On September 2nd of this year, Sprint filed a lawsuit against Cogent for breach of contract. Sprint also notified Cogent in writing of our intent to begin disconnect procedures if Cogent did not pay for services or voluntarily disconnect and make arrangements with one of many alternate providers. Throughout this period, which includes the initial disconnect activities, Cogent did nothing to mitigate the potential effects of Sprint's pending disconnect to its customers.
Fact and Fiction
On October 30th, Cogent issued a press release and has made subsequent statements to the media that contain a number of distortions regarding the relationship between Sprint and Cogent. The following is intended to clarify these misstatements:
Cogent press release: "On October 30 at 4:30 pm Sprint-Nextel severed its Internet connection to Cogent thereby partitioning the Internet."
FACT: The events of October 30th related only to disconnection of the final two interconnects (of 10 original interconnections) between Sprint and Cogent. In addition to notifying Cogent 30 days in advance of our intent to disconnect, Sprint's first disconnect action took place on October 7th, 2008. Between October 7th and October 30th, Sprint disconnected one or two ports each week with Cogent's full awareness. During this period, Cogent failed to take any action in support of its own customers' ongoing Internet reachability even though such actions were fully under its control.
Cogent press release: "Sprint [severed its Internet connection to Cogent] in violation of a contractual obligation to exchange traffic with Cogent on a settlement free peering basis."
FACT: At no time did Sprint and Cogent enter into a contract for settlement free peering. In 2006, Sprint and Cogent formed a commercial trial agreement that ended in September 2007. Cogent was unable to satisfy the agreed-upon traffic exchange criteria within the trial agreement, yet refused to pay Sprint or disconnect from Sprint's network.
Cogent press release: "Sprint and Cogent are engaged in litigation over this matter. Cogent regrets that Sprint chose to take this unilateral action rather than await a determination by the court as to the rights of the parties."
FACT: Sprint filed a lawsuit on September 2nd in Fairfax County, VA Circuit Court against Cogent for breach of contract due to Cogent's refusal to pay Sprint for the ongoing connection to our network. Sprint also provided Cogent with 30 days advance written notice in the hope that Cogent would take action to mitigate the impact of this action on our respective customers.
Cogent press release: "Cogent remains ready to reestablish, on the same settlement free basis as previously existed, the connections that Sprint has severed."
FACT: As noted above, Sprint and Cogent did not enter into a settlement free peering agreement. Instead, the two companies entered into a commercial trial agreement, upon which Cogent did not meet the minimum traffic exchange criteria agreed to by both parties.