Worldly Thoughts

We have a transit connection here _and_ a connection to mae-west.
The mae-west connection's best use is to get traffic to and from
other medium-sized regional providers without visiting either our
or their transit provider (often different ones, so we're saving a lot
of hops and potential congestion points here)

There's also those nationwide providers (like UUnet) who apparently find
it in their best interest to peer with regional networks to take advantage
of the increased performance that parties on both sides get when it happens.
I think this makes for a lot of happy customers on both sides of the
situation, because any increase in performance or reliability between my
network and the nationwide network's customers translates into fewer
complaints by those customers that "the net's broken today". Sprint had
an engineer on the phone with our operations center just a couple days ago,
trying to resolve a complaint originating with a Sprint customer that our
network was unreachable... had Sprint been peering with us, instead of
relying exclusively on our transit provider who happened to be having an
outage, Sprint would have had a happier customer and that Sprint engineer
wouldn't have had to make that phone call. Last I checked, paying a skilled
NOC person for a few hours could pay for months worth of the bandwidth that
we'd "get for free" if Sprint peered with us at just a single coast.

The unfortunate thing is when regional providers turn into national
providers and lose their incentive to peer with other regionals
(eg. formerly-BARRNet, who isn't interested in peering with me because
I'm only on one coast, even though, with quickest-exit, all the traffic
between the west coast part of BBN Planet and our network would be
crossing the west-coast interconnect only... seems silly for me to have
to go buy a router and a DS3 to the east coast just so regional traffic can
stay local and avoid the extra hops imposed by us each using our transit

I understand that nationwide providers don't want to provide me with
"free transit", so, I suggest the following solutions (directed at
those nationwide providers who don't peer with me, and networks like mine):

  1. Peer with me anyway, but don't accept any of my routes into your
     network... that allows me to do the same thing I would do if I were
     nationwide and doing quickest-exit (feed all traffic destined for your
     nationwide network into it at the west coast) without giving me the
     benefit of the return path... this is no more asymmetric than we've got
     now, and at least accelerates the one direction. I've got a transit
     provider, so I'm going to hand you the very same packets eventually...
     you might as well take them off my hands at the interconnect, rather
     than have them presented to you by my transit provider.

  2. Even better, accept my routes into your network but only use them
     within region... I know this isn't nearly as easy as #1, so I don't
     expect it to happen, but it would be a significant performance benefit
     for the local traffic your customers in the region are generating which
     is headed towards me. Once outside the region, of course, you ignore the
     direct routes from me and just give them to my transit provider.

Meanwhile, the interconnect is still mighty useful for getting traffic
around the area, so even without peering with everybody who's there, we
see a lot of performance gains that our customers (and the customers of
the other networks) appreciate. There's no way we can pick up all of the
regional business, and I think most of our competition knows that they're
in the same situation, and that's what makes regional peering work.

-matthew kaufman

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