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Peering Into Internet Dispute

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-10-07

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Level 3 has cutoff the peering connection to Cogent Communications, and that has disrupted Internet service for customers.

Peering, a practice where big Internet backbone providers exchange traffic without charge, has been an invisible part of the Internet for most users until Wednesday morning. PCWorld reports that Level 3 Communications has terminated its peering agreement with Cogent.

That action has kept customers who are single-homed to either Level 3 or Cogent unable to reach some sites on the Internet. PCWorld cites an example of one Michigan firm with a Cogent T-1 at the office, and field employees with dialup access that goes through Level 3 servers. The result: field employees can't connect back to the office to retrieve email.

Level 3 feels that it is carrying the bulk of the traffic under the existing agreement with Cogent. Peering agreements work best when Internet traffic between providers is mostly in balance. "The larger company ends up disadvantaged because it ends up providing essentially free capacity," said Level 3 spokesperson Jennifer Daumler in the report. "In Cogent's case, we determined that the arrangement was not reasonable or commercially viable."

Cogent, for its part, see Level 3's action as a ploy to compel it to raise prices. Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer cited his company's gain in market share and pricing policies in the report as reasons for Level 3 turning off peering.

In response, Cogent has offered one year of free service to any single-homed Level 3 customer in North America or Europe at the same bandwidth they currently have with Level 3.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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