The Attitude (was: the Internet Backbone)

Catching up on my email after tax week (did anyone else notice that
there were a lot fewer postings on this and other lists this past

From: Sean Doran <>
It's because I'm an evil asshole determined to protect my
employer's interests and make our shareholders rich.

This is somewhat incompatible with protecting the interests
of our competitors and enriching their shareholders.

Gentlefolk, while I agree that Sean has been "mostly" right on many
technical issues, I am seriously unhappy with this attitude!

Nor is this attitude unique to Sean. Since my local ISP and NSP is
Merit/MichNet, and I am an advocate of more regional exchanges, I have
been trying to get them to interconnect with other local providers, so
that local traffic wouldn't have to go through MAE-East (and suffer
30%-50% losses) to travel 3 blocks across town. They never managed to
do anything in 3 years, despite the willingness of others (specifically
MSEN) to interconnect.

Recently, I asked why they aren't connected to the Detroit NAP. The
response was "everyone else should connect to MichNet, and pay our
affiliate fee". I noted that the others consider themselves
competitors, and taking the same attitude would expect Merit to instead
pay THEM, since MichNet generates the most traffic.

Likewise, a lot of traffic from Ann Arbor Michigan to Columbus Ohio
travels via MAE-East, despite the fact that Merit is already connected
to CICnet, which is in turn connected to Columbus (both OSU and OARnet).
The problem is, Merit has no "bi-lateral peering" with CICnet.

Merit doesn't think there is a "cost benefit" to have regional
interconnection and peering relationships. In some respects, they are
right. The benefit is not to Merit itself, but rather to its customers
(lower delays), and the rest of the Internet (less congestion at other

The problem is that ISPs are allowed to shove their regional
connectivity out to others on the Internet. In effect, the _rest_ of
the Internet is _paying_ for the regional underprovisioning.

Personally, I have little patience for the small and
not-very-clueful who want to be direct competitors with a
multibillion dollar company with lots of talent and who are
taken to whining about my policies and those of my
colleagues and associates, and even those of our
competitors. This uncharitable attitude obviously does not
endear me to them.

But your attitude that the whiners are "small and not-very-clueful" is
less than useless. There are some quite clueful folks that don't agree
with your policies, particularly with the failure to peer (and exchange
traffic) with everyone else (even small folks) at an exchange. (Sprint
is not the only perpetrator of this poor policy.)

The fact is, whether you like it or not, they _ARE_ your competitors
in their specific regions. But, to thrive, the Internet has a long
tradition of _cooperation_ among competitors.

Kinda misses the meaning of "exchange". That hurts everyone else on the
net, by increased delay and more congestion elsewhere.

In short, you are asking _others_ to bear the costs of _your_ making
money. We've seen this time and again, such as the UK provider who
sends all their traffic to the US, which then uses the congested US to
Europe links. It only saves them money because others were unknowingly
bearing the cost. Sounds like a form of fraud to me.

I would hope, though, that the bulk of our customers
would be much happier with us driving towards a network
reliable enough that they don't have to worry about their
customers screaming (not to mention not having to worry
about facing some very difficult scaling problems we are
already staring at), than with us being the Department of
Warm and Fuzzy Feelings.

All of them know full well that the drive ain't easy.

True. But there are some particular bones to pick with Sprint, like the
underprovisioned Texas links that kept dropping out, just when Apple
released its 7.5.3 MacOS Update to developers from Texas....

So, let's see some of that vaunted reliability first, please.
    Key fingerprint = 17 40 5E 67 15 6F 31 26 DD 0D B9 9B 6A 15 2C 32
    Key fingerprint = 2E 07 23 03 C5 62 70 D3 59 B1 4F 5E 1D C2 C1 A2

This is not exactly correct. CICNet Michigan(AS266) peers with Merit over a
FDDI ring in Ann Arbor.

I suspect that the problem you are running into is that CICNet Primary
region (AS1225) which does not have physical connectivity to AS266 or Merit
provides connectivity for OSU, and peers with OARnet.

This problems has nothing to do with who has what bilaterals with whom, or who
is willing to peer with whomever else, but rather a simple constraint based
on topology.

So please choose a more apropos example next time. Thanks.



  A short answer to your refusal to peer objection in SPRINT's
policies in the form of a question. Which is better:

1. peering with everyone at an exchange, including those ISPs who are
clearly clueless, and whose cluelessness leads to operational problems,
i.e. injection of bogus routes, black holes, routing loops, routing
flaps, and BGP peer transitions?

2. qualifying each of your peers as being clueful, prior to peering
with them, such that you (and your customers!) don't suffer from the
cluelessness of others?

Perhaps the easy way out is to suggest that educating the ISPs as to
what constitutes good behavior at an exchange (routing system stability
and reliable packet delivery) is the responsibility of the exchange
operators, and it might even be possible to enforce some interesting
policies in that regard in the route servers (e.g. if you have more
than N routing or BGP peer transitions per time period, the route
server will refuse to peer with you for 48 hours - think of it as the
hold-down or damper from Hell).

I certainly think that to the extent that the exchange operators can
measure such things as routing and peer stability, it is in everyone's
interest to see the numbers (except those ISPs who are unstable). Who
knows? A series good reports from exchange operators about an ISP might
lead to offers of private peering arrangements outside of the exchange,
to the benefit of the ISP. Similar to the way that having a good credit
record seems to lead to endless offers of more credit.

Lucky me, I'm just a customer, and don't have to worry about such
issues, except as they affect my ISPs. Of course, I do expect my ISPs
to deliver on the goods I'm paying them for: routing system stability
and reliable delivery of packets...

  Erik E. Fair apple!fair