What Is Comcast’s New Approach?

December 17th, 2010 by · 3 Comments

As expected, Comcast quickly fired back this morning in a blog post.  Comcast said they offered to trial a “different architectural approach” but that Level 3 walked out when Comcast wouldn’t agree to a “zero cost outcome” in advance.  I have no doubt that Level 3 has an alternative view here, but I have an immediate question:  What is this different architectural approach the two sides came up with?

They said it could be a “significant shift of Internet infrastructure”, and that both parties were working on it.  But they have yet to tell us what it is, and I think the sector would really like to know.  We might even be able to help analyze it for them.  The current system of peering, paid peering, and transit is antedated and clunky.  Despite my worries that this dispute could have unanticipated consequences, the current system is far, far from perfect.

Innovation could be good.  We all have a vested interest in a healthy ecosystem, and there are plenty of bright people outside of Level 3 and Comcast that might help debug whatever it is.  Please, Comcast and Level 3, do tell!  Maybe we can help…

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3 Comments So Far

  • carlk says:

    Not to diss you Powell, but you made this sound a bit negative by excluding one important “fact” surrounding Comcast’s comment.

    The fact is, these new revelations and epiphanies by both companies began only two days ago! Maybe you think differently, but it tells me that, Comcast is worried, and they should be!

    I have listened to Jim Crowe long enough to know that, his understanding of the “economics” behind the internet, and recommendations for the ongoing inherent “structure,” more than likely, will result in “best of breed” solutions fast forwarding ahead!

  • carlk says:

    So my Japanese friend reminds me of this early this morning. He says, stir that pot nice and slowly with a paddle, and get to the bottom including the sides and all the nooks and crannies.

    My Japanese friend is very wise, and so is Jim Crowe, who may have a little Japanese blood in him somewhere!


  • fluids_only says:

    Excellent news. They presently have the power to draw Comcast to the negotiating table, then walk out when Comcast seeks to defer a resolution. This means that Level 3 has traction with DOJ in the merger discussions.

    Despite Crowe’s pre-2000 swaggering, Level 3 has always been very careful not to complain about shabby treatment from ILECs and MSOs. They have now picked their battle very carefully and I am impressed with how they are playing it.

    Two outcomes seem possible: one that shifts the industry (and which benefits Level 3’s overall strategy), and one that specifically advantages level qua against other competitors. The latter outcome could potentially see customers flocking to Level 3. Level 3 has publicly said that it is not “seeking” a sweetheart deal, but that is different from saying that they wouldn’t accept it if offered it. I wonder whether this special architecture solution is a way of navigating this. This is all getting very interesting. It is an important time for Level 3.

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