net neutrality and peering wars continue

good article by Stacey Higginbotham

Even better by Verizon -

Some may recognize the name of the author for the WSJ article given
she attended NANOG in Orlando -

Even better by Verizon -
Rural Call Completion (RLEC) Hotline About Verizon

Some may recognize the name of the author for the WSJ article given
she attended NANOG in Orlando -

as someone who does not really buy the balanced traffic story, some are
eyeballs and some are eye candy and that's just life, seems like a lot
of words to justify various attempts at control, higgenbottom's point.


Or alternately:

Verizon wishes money to accept data it requested from other vendors, film
at 11.

It's all in the application of the angular momentum...


I agree with Randy, but will go one further.

Requiring a balanced ratio is extremely bad business because it incentivizes your competitors to compete in your home market.

You're a content provider who can't meet ratio requirements? You go into the eyeball space, perhaps by purchasing an eyeball provider, or creating one.

Google Fiber, anyone?

Having a requirement that's basically "you must compete with me on all the products I sell" is a really dumb peering policy, but that's how the big guys use ratio.

The phrase you're looking for is, "double billing." Same byte, two payers.


At the end of the day though, this comes down to a clash of business models and the
reason why it's a public spectacle, and of public policy interest is due to the
wide spread legacy of monopoly driven public investment in the last mile


At the risk of inflaming passions, I'll share my opinion on this whole
topic and then disappear back into my cubicle.

For my part, peering ratios never made sense anyway except in the pure
transit world. I mean, content providers are being punished by eyeball
networks because the traffic is one way. Well, DUH! But everyone
overlooks two simple facts: 1) Web pages don't generate traffic, users
do. Content sits there taking up disk space until a user comes to grab
it. (Not quite the case with data miners such as Google, but you get
the idea.) 2) Users would not generate traffic unless there were
content they want to access. Whether that is web pages, commerce pages
such as Amazon or ebay, streams, or peer-to-peer game traffic, if
there's nothing interesting, there's nothing happening. So both sides
have an equal claim to "it's all your fault" and one seeking to punish
the other is completely moronic.

Traffic interchange is good. Period. It puts the users closer to the
content and the content closer to the user and everyone wins. So I
never once understood why everyone was all fired up about ratios. It
just never made any sense to me from the get-go. To have government
get into this will certainly not help the problem, it will just make
it a hundred times worse. Remember the old saying that the eight most
terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the
government. I'm here to help." and boy will they try to "help". You'll
be lucky if you as a company can keep still your doors open after they
get done "helping" you.

Anyhow, just my two bits.


Hi Wayne,

Another important point not to be missed is that these days, thanks to CDN technology, a heavy inbound ratio does not necessarily indicate a high cost burden like it did pre-CDN tech. Even more ironically, the unwillingness of a peer to upgrade connections due to the ratio excuse results in the CDN having to source traffic from non-optimal locations just to get the bits into the other network, thereby increasing the cost burden of the broadband network.

If it were true that these issues were only about cost there would be plenty of common ground to negotiate acceptable peering terms, don't you think?


What do you mean "not really buy the balanced traffic story"? Ratio can matter when routing is asymmetric. (If costs can be approximated as distance x volume, forwarding hot-potato places a higher burden on the recipient...) And we've basically designed protocols that route asymmetrically by default. Measuring traffic ratios is the laziest solution to this problem, and thus the one we should've expected.


That was a great argument in 1993, and was in fact largely true in system that existed at that time. However today what you describe no longer really makes any sense.

While it is technically true that the protocols favor asymmetric routing, your theory is based on the idea that a content site exists in one location, and does not want to optimize the user experience. That really doesn't describe any of the large sources/sinks today. When you access "" today a lot of science (hi Akamai!) goes into directing users to servers that are close to them, trying to optimize things like RTT to improve performance. Content providers are generally doing the exact opposite of hot potato, they are cold potatoing entire racks into data centers close to the eyeballs at great cost to improve performance.

But to the extent a few people still have traffic patterns where they can asymmetrically route a large amount of traffic, the situation has also changed. In 1993 this was somewhat hard to detect, report, and share. Today any major provider has a netflow infrastructure where they can watch this phenomena in real time, no one is pulling the wool over their eyes. There are also plenty of fixes, for instance providers can exchange MED's to cold potato traffic, or could charge a sliding fee to recover the supposed differences.

The denial of peering also makes bad business sense from a dollars perspective. Let's say someone is asymmetric routing and causing an eyeball network extra long haul transport. Today they deny them peering due to ratio. The chance that the content network will buy full-priced transit from the eyeball network? Zero. It doesn't happen. Instead they will buy from some other provider who already has peering, and dump off the traffic. So the eyeball network still gets the traffic, gets it hidden in a larger traffic flow where they can't complain if it comes from one place, and get $0 for the trouble.

A much better business arrangement would be to tie a sliding fee to the ratio. Peering up to 2:1 is free. Up to 4:1 is $0.50/meg, up to 6:1 is $1.00/meg, up to 10:1 is $1.50 a meg. Eyeball network gets to recover their long haul transport costs, it's cheaper to the CDN than buying transit, and they can maintain a direct relationship where they can keep up with each other using things like Netflow reporting. While I'm sure there's some network somewhere that does a sane paid peering product like this, I've sure never seen it. For almost all networks it's a pure binary decision, free peering or full priced transit.

Quite frankly, if the people with MBA's understood the technical aspects of peering all of the current peering policies would be thrown out, and most of the peering coordinators fired. "Settlement" is a dirty word in the IP realm, but the basic concept makes sense. What was a bad idea was the telco idea of accounting for every call, every bit of data. Remember AT&T's 900 page iPhone bills when they first came out? Doing a settlement based on detailed traffic accounting would be stupid, but doing settlements based on traffic levels, and bit-mile costs would make a lot of sense, with balanced traffic being free.

Oh, and guess what, if people interconnected between CDN and eyeball networks better the users would see better experiences, and might be more likely to be satisfied with their service, and thus buy more. It's good business to have a product people like.

Agreed that CDN, traffic steering, etc, changes the impact of routing protocols. But I think you made my point. The sending peer (or their customer) has more control over cost. And we don't really have a good proxy for evaluating relative burdens.

That's not to suggest that peering disputes are really about technical capabilities. Nor fairness, even...


Well, with net flow Analytics, it's not really the case that we don't have a way of evaluating the relative burdens. Every major net flow Analytics vendor is implementing some type of distance measurement capability so that each party can calculate not only how much traffic they carry for each peer, but how far.


Let's not kid ourselves, the transit providers are just as greedy. Even the
tier 2 ones (minus HE). My favorite is when they turn down your request
because you have an out of band circuit in a remote pop with them. As if
we're stuffing 800G of traffic down a 1G circuit that's never seen 100K of
traffic on it. Or the "It would jeopardize our peering agreements with
other providers" ... followed by a call from one of their sales guys the
next day.

I'll assume that, by "sending peer," you mean the content network. If so, I disagree. The content network has no control whatsoever over the location of the eyeball customer. The eyeball customer has sole control over his or her own location, while the content network has sole control over the location from which they reply to requests.

Therefore, control is shared between the two sides. And both are incentivized to minimize costs. If both minimize their costs, overall costs are minimized. That's why this system works.


I think his point was that the receiving side can massage their BGP
announcements all they like but the sending network has more instantaneous
control over how the traffic will flow. This is before analysis,
communication, application of policies / contractual arrangements,
de-peering etc.etc. kick in.


Right. By "sending peer" I meant the network transmitting a packet,
unidirectional flow, or other aggregate of traffic into another
network. I'm not assuming anything about whether they are offering
"content" or something else - I think it would be better to talk about
peering fairness at the network layer, rather than the business /
service layer.


Admittedly, it's been a few years since I looked at such tools... So
please help me understand: does the tool evaluate distance (and
therefore burden) as it extends into the peer's network, or just into
the local network? And in either case, is this kind of data normalized
and shared between peers? It seems like there could be a mechanism
here to evaluate fairness of burdens, but I'm skeptical that these
tools are used in such a way. I'd be glad to be incorrect. :wink:


The tools cannot estimate burden into the peers network very well, particularly when longest-exit routing is implement to balance the mileage burden, so each party shares their information with each other and compares data in order to make decisions.

It's not common, but there are a handful of peers that share this information with each other.


In that case, it's essentially never an issue, since essentially every packet in one direction is balanced by a packet in the other direction, so rotational symmetry takes care of the "fairness." I think you may be taking your argument too far, though, since by this logic, the sending and receiving networks also have control over what they choose to transit and receive, and I think that discounts too far the reality that it is in fact the _customers_ that are making all of these decisions, and the networks are, in the aggregate, inflexible in their need to service customers. What a customer will pay to do, a service provider will take money to perform. It's not really service providers (in aggregate) making these decisions. It's customers.