This morning, AT&T and Level 3 announced an agreement for bilateral interconnection of their IP networks. Now, these sorts of peering deals happen all the time without much fanfare of course. But it’s interesting that we’ve seen three such announcements in three weeks or so. Level 3 also made a new interconnection agreement with Verizon, as did Cogent.
It’s no accident of course, but a direct result of the FCC’s network neutrality moves. While there was no imminent action planned by the FCC on this front, there was definitely an threat to get involved and shine a light around in a industry basement that has always been dark. That seems to have been enough to break a few logjams.
For a year prior to the FCC’s net neutrality deal, both Level 3 and Cogent had been complaining publicly about last mile providers lagging in upgrades as a pressure tactic. In the peering world, this sort of thing is what used to pass for negotiations of course. But nobody really wants the FCC to get involved, and the amounts of money involved are such peanuts for AT&T and Verizon that there are better fights to pick elsewhere.
That being said, we’re not exactly getting full disclosure here of whether anybody is paying anybody else — the details remain opaque. It should be interesting to see what happens, or doesn’t happen, to Netflix and other OTT traffic speeds going forward.
One interesting tidbit to note. None of these three recent peering announcements actually used the word peering in any form. That’s not an accident either, I think. The concept of networks considering each other peers may be … evolving.
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