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Level3: Six ISPs Degrading Traffic Intentionally to Get Paid
by Karl Bode 10:34AM Tuesday May 06 2014
While Netflix hasn't always stated this outright, their accusation in the recent interconnection scuff up with Comcast, AT&T and Verizon is that those companies are intentionally letting peering points with select companies saturate. Why? They want to end settlement free peering and get paid directly by content companies as part of a decade-old attempt to use their massive customer bases as leverage to get more money out of content companies.

Netflix recently argued that this isn't a case where Netflix is simply paying a company like Comcast to do work a company like Cogent did previously, as Netflix is now "shouldering the costs and performing the transport function for which it used to pay transit providers." Why pay then? Because they're not being given an option if they don't want their service's performance to go to hell for tens of millions of users who won't understand why.

They are, Netflix claims, being held hostage by the nation's largest ISPs who are effectively using their massive userbases as leverage to impose a new variety of direct interconnection fees on content companies. That's again what Level 3's Mark Taylor argues in a new blog post, in which the company blames six, un-named major ISPs for creating a state of "permanent congestion" by refusing to upgrade peering connections during the last year:
A port that is on average utilized at 90 percent will be saturated, dropping packets, for several hours a day. We have congested ports saturated to those levels with 12 of our 51 peers. Six of those 12 have a single congested port, and we are both (Level 3 and our peer) in the process of making upgrades—this is business as usual and happens occasionally as traffic swings around the Internet as customers change providers.

That leaves the remaining six peers with congestion on almost all of the interconnect ports between us. Congestion that is permanent, has been in place for well over a year and where our peer refuses to augment capacity. They are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers. They are not allowing us to fulfill the requests their customers make for content.

Five of those congested peers are in the United States and one is in Europe. There are none in any other part of the world. All six are large Broadband consumer networks with a dominant or exclusive market share in their local market. In countries or markets where consumers have multiple Broadband choices (like the UK) there are no congested peers.
Wilson's answering questions in the comment section of the post if you have any. It's unclear if Comcast is currently one of those six un-named ISPs, given that Level3 struck a new fee-based deal with Comcast last year after a period of public feuding in the media. Level3 recently urged the FCC to intervene in these disputes and prohibit large ISPs from abusing their gatekeeper position in this fashion, but the FCC so far appears content to treat this as run of the mill business disagreements and not -- as Level 3, Netflix and Cogent suggest -- aggressive anti-competitive behavior.

196 comments .. click to read

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Snohomish, WA

3 recommendations

Level3: Six ISPs Degrading Traffic Intentionally to Get Paid...

Let it be noted that one Tuesday Morning links by Revcb See Profile
is a story in which C-net fact checks/speculates about the same blog post and comes to a different conclusion than Karl.
It is worth reading about the other side of this.
Here's a link
» ··· D590a51e


Hazelwood, MO

6 recommendations

reply to guppy_fish

Re: Read this for Facts, Not Fiction

ISP's are responsible for the traffic their consumers request. The backbone providers are only responsible for taking that traffic and getting it to the POP of the ISP. If there is congestion there, it is at the request of the ISP consumers and thus the responsibility of the ISP to upgrade.

There is absolutely no difference in Netflix traffic if it comes from a server room sitting next to Hastings or a CND server sitting right next to the Comcast POP on Level 3's network. Either way, the same traffic is going to be going across that peering point to reach the consumers of Comcast that requested it. Not until a Comcast consumer request it will a single Netflix packet cross that peering point. Them implying anything different is a shear lie and yet another attempt at them trying to deflect blame.


Hazelwood, MO

10 recommendations

reply to jlivingood

Re: Im mixed

You mean your consumers utilize 1/3 of your bandwidth utilizing a service called Netflix.

I stated before and was ignored by you and I will state it again.

If you do not like the amount of traffic YOUR consumers are using of the resource you are selling them to use, then find a way to discourage that use that is not against NN and is legal.

Philadelphia, PA

3 recommendations

reply to nekkidtruth
said by nekkidtruth:

The problem is, Netflix is the only one who's vocal about this issue right now.

Netflix traffic is 1/3 of peak Internet use - it is without precedent, so there's no one really similarly situated.



3 recommendations

Level3: This means war!!!

So what they are really saying is that they are pissed that Comcast and Netflix cut them out of the middle. Now they are going to stomp their feet and stick out their bottom lip.
I do not, have not, and will not work for AT&T/Comcast/Verizon/Charter or similar sized company.

Support The Clecs

Danbury, CT

6 recommendations

reply to cpsycho

Re: Im mixed

said by cpsycho:

Comcast would back off then, for fear of losing customers to other providers.

The whole reason Comcast is in a position to bully Netflix (and any other content provider) is because in most cases there are NO other providers for their customers. Do ya get it?
"Speak for yourself "Chadmaster" - lesopp


Centereach, NY
·Verizon FiOS

2 edits

5 recommendations

reply to OSUGoose
said by OSUGoose:

What they (AT&T) fail to understand is that the 5% of other traffic is important as well, and is impacted just as much.

You're getting it completely wrong. AT&T absolutely does understand that there's 5% of traffic that's "innocent" and impacted. They simply don't care because the people that are being impacted have no alternative for Internet access.

edit: Even at prime time it's not 5% of non-Netflix traffic that's impacted it's over 65%. That's right, AT&T is willing to harm 65% of customer traffic to mess with Netflix.

said by OSUGoose:

Thats the whole concept of free interconnect

Your description is a distortion and not accurate. "equal" isn't a required element of peering and never has been. There are many reasons to enter into a settlement free peering agreement. And it's completely irrelevant here because there is no transit and equal arrangement possible with a residential ISP.

If the connection endpoint is in your network you should bear the cost. Simple. Easy. Endpoints in residential ISPs networks (called customers) pay their bills and it should cover the cost of providing proper access to the rest of the Internet.


Limestone, ME

5 recommendations


The law of supply and demand.

It works heavily in your favor when you have the power to manipulate the supply.


Columbus, OH

3 recommendations

reply to cpsycho

Re: Im mixed

Netflix is paying for a sufficient outbound connection, the issue is when that traverses L3's backbone to the interconnect with the end users ISP, lets say its AT&T.

Netflix is connected a 10Gigs yet AT&T is only taking in L3's traffic at 1 Gig which is 90% used. L3 has asked AT&T to increase it to say 10Gig, and AT&T wants paid to do that, since they see 95% of the traffic is a competing service. What they (AT&T) fail to understand is that the 5% of other traffic is important as well, and is impacted just as much.

The current model now is this: Netflix needs to send 100GB of data to their end user, They pay L3 to serve it up, paying lets say $10.00. L3 transports the data on the backbone and links up to the end users ISP: AT&T. L3 pays AT&T $5.00 to pass on the traffic. In a unrelated transport, AT&T needs to send traffic onto L3's backbone for lets say a OneDrive customer uploading 100GBs, AT&T pays L3 $5.00 to hand it off, making the net transactions $0.00.

Thats the whole concept of free interconnect, the data back and forth will balance out, if not messed with, having both bare a near equal cost to move the traffic around.

Karl Bode
News Guy

3 recommendations

reply to nekkidtruth

Re: Curious...

Give them time.