MWEB peering cuts ‘a storm in a teacup’ says MTN Business

FlatspinZA

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That point reminds me of the fact that the internet is not exclusively made up of internet content. Obviously to an english speaker, english content is king, but perhaps one day we will see international language searches with auto translation become more 'mainstream'...

..and lastly: Google Translate is the Shizz

I've read many foreign articles, all of which I've understood - the odd word might be wrong but you'll put the right one there once you read the sentence.
 

johnelis

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And very importantly, these things change over time. Will the US still be the centre of the Internet in twenty or thirty years time? Maybe not. So will US-based ISPs still have as much negotiating power when it comes to peering/transit agreements as they do now? No. Possibly we'll all be paying Chinese ISPs for transit at that stage ;).

Well based on this, maybe the large ones feel they are the centre of the SA Internet. Do we simply sit back and leave the internationals but knock the locals who have grown themselves to "similar" standing ? Maybe government should start to lobby internationally. Seems quite unfair that international ISPs have access to our country and "our" cost ?
 

Roman4604

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You wrote earlier that IS were the only one of the original 3 (triangle) to negotiate with Mweb.
Ahh, ok I see what youre getting at.

Well when I read "engage in alternate content distribution mechanisms" all I see is just another fob-off delay tactic excusing why they shouldnt be peering outside their historical cartel.

If you ask me its just more BS, by my estimation Telkom's users will pull more from the MWEB network than visa vera. Telkom have no heavy weight content assets to rival the likes of News24 & DSTV/Supersport.
 
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Ant_Brooks

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Smaller ISP's contract to larger ISP's to gain access to international networks which the larger ISP's have SLA's with, because the smaller ISP's don't have the revenue to enter into these contracts with the international providers themselves? The larger ISP's then charge the smaller ISP's to recoup the costs incurred with their agreements with the international ISP's?

That's a reasonable summary, although the reality (as always) is slightly more complicated. The Internet isn't just a tree of small ISPs connecting to larger and larger ISPs all the way up the chain. At various levels, ISPs also connect to other ISPs that aren't necessarily larger (or smaller) than they are. Usually this is done using peering points (like JINX and CINX) but it might also be done via direct links. Those connections allows them to exchange traffic directly, which typically costs a lot less than paying a "larger" ISP to carry the traffic for them.

The word "peering" is often used for the connections between similarly "sized" ISPs and comes from the word "peer" meaning "a person of the same status as another specified person". Whereas the word "transit" is usually used when one ISP is clearly "larger" and able to charge for the service of carrying someone else's traffic across their network to other bits of the Internet. Peering agreements only sometimes involve an exchange of money, while transit agreements almost always do.

In practice, "peering" and "transit" are seldom used consistently and often mean different things to different people.

Also, having your own international link doesn't necessarily make you a "peer" of another SA ISP which also has its own international link. An ISP might have smaller network and a much, much smaller international link, and thus still be too "small" to qualify as an ISP worth doing settlement-free peering with (in the eyes of a "larger" ISP). It's all really quite subjective.

Mweb is now going direct?

I'm not familiar enough with MWeb's network topology to be entirely sure what their situation is, but hazarding a guess, I'd say that MWeb now views itself as a "peer" of Telkom, et al, and thinks it has enough negotiating power to push for settlement free peering, rather than paying other large ISPs for peering/transit.
 

johnelis

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The one thing nobody seems to be answering, apart from the gamers, has this actually impacted user experience ?
 

FlatspinZA

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That's a reasonable summary, although the reality (as always) is slightly more complicated. The Internet isn't just a tree of small ISPs connecting to larger and larger ISPs all the way up the chain. At various levels, ISPs also connect to other ISPs that aren't necessarily larger (or smaller) than they are. Usually this is done using peering points (like JINX and CINX) but it might also be done via direct links. Those connections allows them to exchange traffic directly, which typically costs a lot less than paying a "larger" ISP to carry the traffic for them.

The word "peering" is often used for the connections between similarly "sized" ISPs and comes from the word "peer" meaning "a person of the same status as another specified person". Whereas the word "transit" is usually used when one ISP is clearly "larger" and able to charge for the service of carrying someone else's traffic across their network to other bits of the Internet. Peering agreements only sometimes involve an exchange of money, while transit agreements almost always do.

In practice, "peering" and "transit" are seldom used consistently and often mean different things to different people.

Also, having your own international link doesn't necessarily make you a "peer" of another SA ISP which also has its own international link. An ISP might have smaller network and a much, much smaller international link, and thus still be too "small" to qualify as an ISP worth doing settlement-free peering with (in the eyes of a "larger" ISP). It's all really quite subjective.

I'm not familiar enough with MWeb's network topology to be entirely sure what their situation is, but hazarding a guess, I'd say that MWeb now views itself as a "peer" of Telkom, et al, and thinks it has enough negotiating power to push for settlement free peering, rather than paying other large ISPs for peering/transit.

Thanks, Mr Brooks - greater clarification is always beneficial: I understand so much more than I did after your last post. ;) Essentially, all ISP's (regardless of size) need to have some agreement with other ISP's to route traffic across their respective networks?

So, MWeb has basically told everyone else that they're not interested in paying for this, if you would, cross-talk, and they'll just be going international unless the other ISP's agree to drop all costs associated with local peering.

Is that it? It seems like a bold move, though in my opinion it could have been done with a bit more transparency as far as its competitors go. Is MWeb that big that it can afford to upset other local providers? Is MTN that big? I have no idea. Telkom could just put its foot down and crush everyone, couldn't they?

In South Africa it is a rare thing to see commercial interests coinciding with the interests of consumers, but anyone who thinks that MWEB does not have a business plan that relies on cutting the costs associated with these local transit links, must surely be very misguided and should really catch a wake-up.

As a consumer I support what MWEB is doing here, simply bcos it will benefit me as a consumer - if not immediately then at some point in the future [I currently don't have ADSL, and therefore don't have an MWEB "uncapped" ADSL ISP account either], but I can see how MWEB's actions will result in hugely increased competition and price wars, so it should filter through at some point in the future.

It is great that MWEB has shaken things up - very boldly going where no South African ISP has previously dared to go, and I hope that when the dust starts to settle, more SA ISPs will be just as bold with other ideas designed to cut costs and that savings will be passed on to consumers.That is a scary thought, even more so if China decides to completely abandon Communism - although the current flavour of Chinese Communism is very profitable IMO.@Nortic, that statement of yours does not hold water. You cannot possibly know what is or is not prohibited in most peering contracts, for the simple reason that no one on this planet has access to all peering contracts in force in the past or present or future on this planet, furthermore your use of the word "most" implies that you have access to the majority of peering contracts, which is equally impossible for the same reason. You might have access to one or more peering contracts, but you most certainly do not have access to the majority or even all peering contracts.

How do you know what Nortic "possibly knows" & what he doesn't? As for Mweb's bold move benefiting us as consumers in the long run - certainly it has shaken things up, if it's a short term benefit remains to be seen, long term is even more unpredictable.
 
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Ant_Brooks

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Thanks, Mr Brooks - greater clarification is always beneficial: I understand so much more than I did after your last post. ;) Essentially, all ISP's (regardless of size) need to have some agreement with other ISP's to route traffic across their respective networks?

Yes, but not just ISPs. Anyone using the Internet needs to have an agreement with someone else to carry their traffic. You have such an agreement with your ISP, albeit a simple one — you pay money and your ISP makes sure your traffic gets to and from its destination. The agreements between ISPs are just more complicated.
 

Nortic

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I certainly do not know everything that Nortic knows, just as Nortic has no way of knowing everything that I know, nor that anyone else knows, but I do know that Nortic is not some all powerful deity that might possibly have access to all peering contracts such that Nortic would then know their contents and what clauses contained therein would be considered to be 'prohibitions', it then stands to reason that Nortic cannot claim to know what is contained in the majority of peering contracts since Nortic does not have access to all peering contracts that exist.

Lol, I never made such a claim although a simple 'I dont agree' would have sufficed but I should have probably said that shaping on a peering link defeats the purpose of the object.

Anyway, the 'assumption' was based on 'popular' clauses pulled from a few agreements:
...neither Party is permitted to restrict the use of its Network by the other Party based on the content of the Traffic being exchanged, except as required or permitted under relevant laws, regulations or policies.

Either Party may at its discretion filter Traffic on its Network if there are reasonable technical, security or legal concerns for the integrity and operation of its Network...subject to giving reasonable prior notice and requesting the other Party to take action

...enable each Party to establish the highest practical quality of service over the designated peering links

...minimize packet delays

1. No Restrictions in Use. The parties agree not to restrict the use of their respective networks based on the subject matter of the traffic, subject only to applicable laws.


Some more gibberish:
Background

In 2006, Cogent sought a peering trial agreement in the hopes that it would lead to settlement-free peering status with Sprint. Settlement-free peering is a contractual relationship in which two companies exchange Internet traffic without charging each other. This arrangement is only fair if the two parties exchange roughly equal volumes of traffic across the two networks. Prior to this trial period, Cogent utilized third parties for full Internet connectivity.

Following a three-month commercial trial agreement during June - September 2007, the peering trial data indicated that Cogent did not meet the minimum traffic exchange criteria agreed to by both parties. As a result, settlement-free peering was not established and Cogent was notified in writing of these results. Despite this fact, and after repeated discussions, Cogent failed to disconnect itself from the Sprint network or compensate Sprint for the ongoing connection.

Sprint has repeatedly notified Cogent in writing of payment past due and our intent to take action if the issue was left unresolved. On September 2nd of this year, Sprint filed a lawsuit against Cogent for breach of contract. Sprint also notified Cogent in writing of our intent to begin disconnect procedures if Cogent did not pay for services or voluntarily disconnect and make arrangements with one of many alternate providers. Throughout this period, which includes the initial disconnect activities, Cogent did nothing to mitigate the potential effects of Sprint's pending disconnect to its customers.

Fact and Fiction

On October 30th, Cogent issued a press release and has made subsequent statements to the media that contain a number of distortions regarding the relationship between Sprint and Cogent. The following is intended to clarify these misstatements:

Cogent press release: "On October 30 at 4:30 pm Sprint-Nextel severed its Internet connection to Cogent thereby partitioning the Internet."
FACT: The events of October 30th related only to disconnection of the final two interconnects (of 10 original interconnections) between Sprint and Cogent. In addition to notifying Cogent 30 days in advance of our intent to disconnect, Sprint's first disconnect action took place on October 7th, 2008. Between October 7th and October 30th, Sprint disconnected one or two ports each week with Cogent's full awareness. During this period, Cogent failed to take any action in support of its own customers' ongoing Internet reachability even though such actions were fully under its control.

Cogent press release: "Sprint [severed its Internet connection to Cogent] in violation of a contractual obligation to exchange traffic with Cogent on a settlement free peering basis."
FACT: At no time did Sprint and Cogent enter into a contract for settlement free peering. In 2006, Sprint and Cogent formed a commercial trial agreement that ended in September 2007. Cogent was unable to satisfy the agreed-upon traffic exchange criteria within the trial agreement, yet refused to pay Sprint or disconnect from Sprint's network.

Cogent press release: "Sprint and Cogent are engaged in litigation over this matter. Cogent regrets that Sprint chose to take this unilateral action rather than await a determination by the court as to the rights of the parties."
FACT: Sprint filed a lawsuit on September 2nd in Fairfax County, VA Circuit Court against Cogent for breach of contract due to Cogent's refusal to pay Sprint for the ongoing connection to our network. Sprint also provided Cogent with 30 days advance written notice in the hope that Cogent would take action to mitigate the impact of this action on our respective customers.

Cogent press release: "Cogent remains ready to reestablish, on the same settlement free basis as previously existed, the connections that Sprint has severed."
FACT: As noted above, Sprint and Cogent did not enter into a settlement free peering agreement. Instead, the two companies entered into a commercial trial agreement, upon which Cogent did not meet the minimum traffic exchange criteria agreed to by both parties.
 
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Nortic

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IS, MTN Bus (then UUnet) & Telkom (SAIX)... Free Peering Triangle cartel.

That is very interesting. If true and MTN inherited this free peering with SAIX it does make the free peering with MWEB even less attractive. Could possibly mean MTN might risk not meeting contractual obligations and stand to loose this favorable position. I am not 100% convinced though.
 

Roman4604

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I am not 100% convinced though.
Then convince yourself, there should be enough anecdotal evidence around, some pointers ...

Look for examples of traceroutes between the parties over the years. You'll notice traffic between them is always via direct interconnection links, never via the public switching fabrics at the JINX/CINX traffic exchanges.

Also look for any historical commentary or articles regarding loss of connectivity, congestion or any other type of dispute between the parties. It is always referred to as 'peering', and never described as one party not adhereing to its service levels (by implication a paid for service).
 

Nortic

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Then convince yourself

I am talking about MTN NS inheriting the free peering agreement of Uunet , since MTN NS existed before MTN Business and as you said in another thread, they work in isolation and have two different peering policies.
 

Roman4604

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I am talking about MTN NS inheriting the free peering agreement of Uunet
Have no idea about this, but what is evident, the 2 MTN divisions have operated independantly up until now with contradictory stances on peering.

There is a nice ironic situation that illustrates this. The MTN Bus website (www.mtnbusiness.co.za) is hosted on the MTN NS part of their network (ASN). This means if youre on a network not peered with MTN Bus (nor has paid for links directly into them), you can still get to the website via peering (e.g. JINX), however access to/from the actual MTN Bus network needs to go via transit (or internationally in the case of MWEB).
 
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bekdik

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Is there an unintended consequence whereby those users who move from international to local connectivity when they are capped, e.g. telkom users, will be cut off from local sites hosted on mweb once they are capped?
 

The_Unbeliever

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Is there an unintended consequence whereby those users who move from international to local connectivity when they are capped, e.g. telkom users, will be cut off from local sites hosted on mweb once they are capped?

Interesting.
 
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