Friday, October 07, 2005

Internet traffic disrupted as providers feud

MSNBC reported Thousands of Internet users struggled to send e-mail and keep their Web sites running Thursday after a dispute between two service providers left large portions of the Internet unable to talk to each other. Computer technicians scrambled to shore up their networks after Level 3 Communications Inc. refused to accept traffic from rival Cogent Communications Group Inc., rendering large portions of the Internet unreachable by others.

I did not experience any problem. Did you?
"We weren't able to get to our e-mail systems, we weren't able to get to our externally hosted chat systems," said Bob Serr, chief technology officer at Chicago instant-messaging provider Parlano Inc. "Some customers say they've had trouble getting to our Web site." The rift meant that thousands of customers -- including individuals who use Time Warner Inc.'s Road Runner cable-modem service -- were not able to view Web sites and send e-mail to servers located on the other company's network, violating the Internet's premise as a universal, borderless network of computers.

The dispute affects roughly 15 percent to 17 percent of the Internet, Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer said. "The usability and value people get out of the Internet is highly dependent on its ability to be ubiquitous and affordable, and I think what Level 3 is attempting to do is undermine both of those core principles," he said in an interview.

Like other large, wholesale Internet service providers, Cogent and Level 3 handed off traffic from one network to each other free of charge, until Level 3 said that it was handling too much Cogent traffic. "We felt that there was an imbalance and we were disadvantaged in that relationship and we were ending up with what amounts to free capacity," Level 3 spokeswoman Jennifer Daumler said. Cogent's Schaeffer said Level 3 was simply trying to get Cogent to raise its prices, which at $10 per megabit are far below the market average of $60 or so per megabit.

Here is a definition of Tier 1 carrier, and here is a list of tier 1 internet service providers. Level 3 is shown, but Cogent is not. The company is a Tier 2 carrier internet service provider, with aspirations of becoming a Tier 1 carrier. Cogent's business model is charging the lowest possible pricing for high speed internet connectivity, in order to win business in volume. They say they operate one of the top ten Internet backbones in the world. From this I see that Cogent is also called PSINet, and they have 4.1% of the market. I could not find their backbone map here

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