Peering versus Transit

These days peering agreements are business deals.

They have always been business deals. I'm just amazed as some of the
lengths some providers go to justify what should be a plain-old
business decision. If you don't intend to peer with another provider,
just say so. The only providers I tend to get really peeved at are
the ones that keep changing their stories.

AGIS told me in January '96 that their peering agreement was being
revised by their lawyers and they would send it as soon as it was
ready. Since I hadn't heard from AGIS in a while, I sent another
note to AGIS and was told they now require DS3 connections to four
exchange points. No idea what happened to that peering agreement
from January.

MCI told me in February '96 that their peering agreement as
on hold pending review by their lawyers and they would let me know
when it was ready. The last response I've received from MCI is the
person in charge of peering had changed. No word from the new guy.
And MCI took their peering policies off their web page. No idea
what happened to MCI's policies in the mean time.

Since March of 1995 (yes '95) I've gone through three product managers
for Sprintlink who have told me their peering agreement is on the way,
under legal review, on hold, or being revised. DRA met Sprint's peering
'requirements' a couple of times now. But by the time I hear back from
their product manager du jure, they've changed their requirements again.

I'm puzzled why these providers seem to have new peers show up at the
same time they are telling me new peerings are on 'hold.' Should I
start taking this personally? If you don't intend to peer with other
providers, why not say so? Why go through the trouble of making
peering questionaires and listing peering requirements, when you are
just going to come up with a new excuse if you don't want to peer
with the other provider.

They happen to
be business deals that have $0 attached to them for all sorts
of reasons Sean D et al explained far more eloquently than I could,
but they are still business agreements. Just like any other contract,
be in breach at your peril.

Breach of contract is a civil matter, not criminal. If you have a
peering agreement that says thou shalt not next-hop third-party routes,
and they do, you get to terminate the agreement and/or sue the other
provider, not arrest them.

People seem to be very quick to call things they don't like illegal.
Not all misrouted packets are the result of illegal activities, most
of them are just misrouted packets. MCI didn't plan to send me packets
across mae-east, they just happened to believe some bad routing information.

If you are going to start arresting people simply because packets are
misrouted, big providers misroute a lot more packets than little providers
simply due to size. This is a dangerous game to start playing because
it can easily blow up in your face.

Which leaves the case where you send traffic to say ISP X
*without* any form of peering agreement with ISP X. Contracts
with the IXP should prevent this from happening. If you
try this, I hope they filter your MAC address.

Some IXPs do this, but the operators aren't always able to keep up with
the changing arrangements of the various providers and end up blackholing
a bunch of traffic every so often for varying lengths of time. The routing
protocols have problems dealing with networks which don't have the 'shared-
fate' property.

Most other IXP contracts are silent about relationships between ISPs.