Telkom slates MWEB’s transit cut decision

MWEB severed their local transit over SAIX yesterday, essentially cutting off local connectivity to most service providers which do not peer with them directly, such as MTN and Vodacom.

While Telkom is currently still connecting with MWEB through a paid transit link, this link is set to be cut early next week.

This decision, MWEB said, will hopefully encourage all local telecoms players to embrace free and open peering, which in turn will increase competition, drive down prices and increase service levels.

MWEB ISP CEO Derek Hershaw said that old school telcos and ISPs need to move away from unnecessary profiteering at the expense of the SA consumer – networks should be open.

Different view

Telkom and MTN, two operators which are directly affected by MWEB’s decision, argue that MWEB’s recent decision is not helping local Internet subscribers.

Edwin Thompson, MTN Business’ General Manager of Infrastructure and Technology, previously said that MWEB may inadvertently hurt their own subscribers who may now experience high latency and put strain on MWEB’s international capacity.

Telkom has also challenged MWEB’s decision to cut its paid peering links, saying that it is a pity that MWEB is choosing to let Telkom’s and other South African Internet subscribers take the brunt. “MWEB’s unilateral measure is not in the spirit of the Internet community,” said Telkom.

“MWEB is deciding not to exchange traffic directly with Telkom’s internet network namely AS 5713. As a result, MWEB is portioning the Internet and disrupting the flow of traffic between MWEB and Telkom customers,” said Telkom.

“While this has a negative impact on some users of the Internet, this effect will be the result of MWEB’s decision and is unfortunately beyond Telkom’s control. Telkom does not believe that it is constructive to air a potential commercial dispute in the public domain or to negotiate through the media.”

No certainty about routing yet

On the question as to whether Telkom clients will be able to access the MWEB network locally if MWEB severs their Telkom transit links next week, Telkom said that it does not have adequate information to make this call at this stage.

“Telkom is not informed of the exact routing procedures that MWEB will apply for domestic traffic. Telkom has no control over that. Telkom, therefore, cannot substantially respond in this regard,” the company said.

“The routing of traffic will depend on the routing procedures that MWEB will apply. Telkom has no control over that. Telkom therefore is not in a position to respond to this question substantively,” Telkom pointed out.

No free and open peering

Telkom sends a strong message to MWEB that it should not expect free and open peering from them despite any potential re-routing of traffic internationally.

On the question of whether Telkom will consider free and open peering with MWEB after the termination of MWEB’s paid local transit, Telkom’s answer was simple: “No.”

“Telkom has an internationally benchmarked peering policy. The policy follows best practice principles that are applied by network providers in fully competitive, commercially functional and efficient Internet markets globally,” Telkom explained.

“The policy requirements are applied uniformly. MWEB’s invitation to peer was considered against these principles as would any request for peering with Telkom. Peering, however, is not meant to amount to free provisioning of network infrastructure by one party to another since someone has to cover the capital expenditure of the network.”

Telkom however did say that it wishes to engage in alternate content distribution mechanisms with mutual benefits to the MWEB and Telkom subscriber bases.

“MWEB has previously been informed accordingly. Our first responsibility is to ensure that we protect the quality and integrity of our paying customers,” Telkom said.

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Telkom slates MWEB’s transit cut decision