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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