Level 3, Comcast Quietly Make Interconnection Peace

July 16th, 2013 by · 5 Comments

Two and a half years after the initial flare-up, Level 3 and Comcast have apparently resolved their differences over peering, transit, net neutrality, and all that Netflix video traffic.  Comcast had demanded Level 3 pay for the extra ports needed to handle a surge in video traffic coming in from their then new CDN contract with Netflix, and while Level 3 had agreed under protest the dispute had simmered on the back burner ever since.

However, just how peace was achieved will remain shrouded in mystery, as the two companies aren’t talking about it except to say that it was mutually satisfactory (how else could they have described a negotiated settlement?).  Level 3 has been pushing bit-mile peering over the last few years, but it seems unlikely to me that Comcast would have agreed to it as previously described.  More likely the two now have a specially designed interconnection agreement that takes into account the other levels of the relationship between the two companies.

Such dispute between content and eyeball networks have cropped up elsewhere lately.  Google had interconnection issues to resolve in France last year, the ramifications of which may still shake things up given the recent EC regulatory interest.  And Cogent was reported in June to be arguing with Verizon about the latter’s refusal to upgrade peering to levels needed to properly handle, yep, Netflix traffic.

But at least we can now close the books on the Level3/Comcast dispute, even if the final chapter was redacted.  One thing is clear by now though, the recurring theme of who is in the Tier 1 backbone club and who isn’t is pretty much relegated to the past now.  The new milieu has yet to coalesce, but has been giving support to my longstanding  belief that net neutrality would just push things upstream.



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Categories: Cable · Internet Backbones · Internet Traffic

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5 Comments So Far

  • mhammett says:

    The last mile networks purchased “Tier 1” networks to lower costs and hide their pull traffic in a bigger cloud. Now that’s gone ass over ankles and they’re right back to where they started. There is no one else to buy except for the content hosts\producers, so they throw a temper tantrum. I’d love to get peering to all of these networks. Oh, wait, maybe I will before year’s end. 😉

  • Anon says:

    Tier 1 means you don’t pay anyone for transit, there are less than 15 such network service providers globally. I’m not aware of any last mile provider buying a tier 1 (Qwest is not tier 1, for example), so I am not sure I understand your comment. In fact MCI, for example, actually divested its US IP network in the 2000s to C&W, who in turn eventually sold it to Bridge/Savvis. So you might argue Centurylink bought Savvis (as a tier 1) to “hide” their traffic, but this is very counterintuitive given Savvis is a major content hoster in its own right.

    • mhammett says:

      I said “Tier 1” with the quotes to indicate the top carriers. I don’t care who pays whom for what. Given that financial transactions like this are likely private, you can’t gauge an industry on things as such. The Renesys baker’s dozen is a much better indicator of the “tier 1” networks than any financial transaction.

      SBC bought AT&T. Verizon bought MCI/WorldCom. CenturyLink bought Qwest.

  • Anon says:

    But who pays whom for what is the entire basis of pretty much everything.

  • Mike says:

    The problem likely resolved itself, as Level 3 is no longer a significant source of NETFLIX traffic. It was a flood, now its a trickle. The model that caused the disagreement, is a now a distant memory.

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