Thursday, October 06, 2005


Slashdot has an interesting news piece (which I will try to translate into English for you) concerning a potential partitioning of the internet. The immediate problem is that Level 3 a Tier 1 ISP (Internet Service Provider) has stopped peering (sharing) with Cogent, another Tier 1 ISP. Creating in theory two internets (sic). Thankfully, the internet is a web of networks so Cogent and Level3 are still connected but through other 3rd parties.
In English:
You want to travel from France (Level3) to Italy (Cogent), but Italy has shut down the highways (peering points) connecting them.

You could still enter Italy but only by way of Switzerland (ex ATT or AOL)

While this does not present a problem, right now, to most internet users it wouldn't take much (a flick of the switch) for other companies to follow suit. This would "balkanize" the internet into individual private networks which could potentially force consumers to either subscribe to multiple services or be limited in the content that they can reach.

Hopefully Level 3 and Cognet can resolve whatever "undisclosed" disagreements exist between the two companies. My guess is that Level 3 is seeking payment for peering with Cogent. This would be a major shakeup in the ISP world as well. Tier 1's have traditionally provided free peerage between each other, and only charging Tier 2's or lower for connection.

If this is indeed the case, and Level 3 is able to do this expect other Tier1's to follow suit. Once again the real loser will be the end-user who will see this new model reflected in the monthly bill.

It is also possible that Cognet know to be one of the lowest priced providers per Megabit is having its chain pulled by Level3. Check out this article from America's Network.

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