In an interview with La Tribune this week, Cogent’s CEO Dave Schaeffer said that the company has filed a formal complaint with French regulators and are also talking with those in Brussels. What complaint? Orange and Cogent haven’t seen eye to eye in a long time, and the two fought a brief peering war back in 2005. This new dispute hasn’t gone quite that far. It isn’t that Orange won’t connect with Cogent or that anyone has depeered anyone else yet. Rather, Cogent says that Orange refuses to connect in France unless they get paid, and won’t upgrade capacity to support traffic growth.
Cogent wants that connectivity in order to better serve its customers, such as Megavideo, who have had trouble with speed to French customers. The traffic is asymmetric because Orange has many consumer eyeballs, and consumer DSL traffic is by its nature asymmetric nowadays. Traffic ratios, ugh, do we really need to go there again?
This dispute is another manifestation of the changing balance of power between Tier 1 transit carriers with substantial consumer last mile traffic and those without it. Orange wants to get paid for traffic because it has that last mile, and there is no bypass possible – so the price is whatever they say it is. Level 3’s ongoing dispute with Comcast is of the same mold, although flavored by their operation of a CDN.
For its part, Cogent hasn’t been making friends in Europe over the past few years. They have been bringing their low price/cost model to new markets all over the continent, especially to the east. For years though, major carriers in Europe have used the ‘where’ of peering with Cogent to pressure them, resulting in some creative traffic routing. Schaeffer seems ready to bring that kettle to a boil.
We’ll have to see just what the regulators do, although since this is FT’s backyard they’ll surely be able to slow down any action they don’t like…