Is Peering Transparency Catching On?

June 16th, 2014 by · Leave a Comment

It’s almost too good to be true from my point of view. News has been coming out of the FCC that has Tom Wheeler & crew looking at peering. While it’s not being treated directly as a part of the net neutrality debate, he has called them ‘cousins’ which is a good start.

Even further, he’s gotten Comcast and Verizon to divulge the details of those paid peering deals with Netflix, and is seeking those with others such as Google/YouTube.  Meanwhile, the protagonists on both sides are welcoming the transparency, as are the politicians, and the pundits.

Has everyone finally come to their senses? Are we ready to sit down and re-tune the peering/transit system a bit for a video-dominated world?

Yet the conspiracy theorist that sits on my left shoulder at times like this has narrowed its eyes. Secret, carefully-guarded peering agreements handed over just like that? It’s all happening too fast, almost as if the script was written in advance.

But then, that would be okay too if the end result is a workable system that rewards investment in all parts of the network and discourages the artificial bottlenecks we have been seeing.

Another warning sign for me though is that there are other peering agreements out there that are relevant to the discussion that Wheeler hasn’t mentioned asking for. You know the ones I mean: those governing the interconnections that are supposedly currently congested for one-sided reasons.

Last mile operators really shouldn’t need to squeeze transit backbones to gain paid peering agreements with the content side. They should be able to sell those based on the better performance itself, since no one can match a last mile operator’s performance on through a direct connection into their own network.  Even going through a CDN that itself buys paid peering into the last mile involves more hops and a less optimal potential hand-off depth.

But in order to have a fair marketplace the option of buying transit must also be there for all traffic. If a Netflix’s choice of transit networks can be deliberately degraded for whatever reason, then that option ceases to be an effective check on pricing for the paid peering option. And when you lose that check, you get a captive market that needs overt regulation. Let’s find a way not to go there…

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Categories: Government Regulations · Internet Traffic

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