RE: Least Sucky Backbone Provider

Good morning,
  I'm considering dropping Cogent completely out of my
transit mix, as the number of outages and problems they
have been experienced over the past year has reached an
unacceptable level. It has gotten to the point that we
their BGP session is shutdown for longer periods than it
is on. Based on the availability of on-net fiber in my
facility, I have narrowed the field to the following

1. Level 3
2. MCI/Verizon
3. AT&T

I'm looking for comments from actual customers of the above
providers in relation to;

1. Network reliability and performance
2. Responsiveness to outages
3. Proactive notification of network maintenance

95% of our traffic mix is US48 in nature, so International
routes are not a huge decision point.

We've got connectivity to all three of those plus Cogent
and TWTC. Similar to what someone else posted, a much smaller
percentage of our web hosting traffic seems to naturally prefer
the other providers compared to Level 3. In some cases this
has appeared to be forced as testing has shown other paths
to be optimal in speed/delay, so we've forced traffic to some
ISP's out through other providers manually rather than going
over the L3 link. We still send the bulk of the traffic over
L3 though as they are optimal in many cases and very reliable.

In order of reliability, it's been Level 3, AT&T,
UUNet, TWTC, Cogent with all providers being in use with us for
at least 18 months. Level 3 and AT&T have always been
very responsive and I've had success getting someone who knows
BGP rather than a delayed call back. Never actually called
UUNet since the few outages there have been have all been short
enough that we just disabled the session for a bit and brought
it back up with no issues so I can't say with experience how
they actually are, although since I have never needed to call
that is a good thing. If you're single homed probably best to
find out more on their support if you were going to use them.

TWTC I've had some issues with community filtering rules that
we need dropping out with no warning and multi-hour delays
getting someone who could help. Cogent, with their unusual
inbound/outbound peering setup, seems to have an issue with
their outbound side of our link regularly, every few weeks,
while the inbound session has been up for 460 days. I also
dislike their very poor community offerings, we can't do
many of the things with them that we do with the others. We
keep them and prepend three times on our advertisements to them
so they are primarily just a link for traffic going to and from
other Cogent customers.

If the pricing is right, I think you'd be happy with either
L3 or AT&T, probably MCI/Verizon/UUNet (or whoever owns them
this week) too provided their support is good since we have
found them to be pretty reliable.