[nycbug-talk] Cogent and Sprint - a signal of things getting Oldschool?

Isaac Levy ike at lesmuug.org
Fri Oct 31 14:43:33 EDT 2008

Hi All,

A scary ike-brain-dump lunchtime essay for halloween!
Freddie Crugar is slicing internet routing tables today!


Many of you saw the news yesterday afternoon that Sprint cut off  
peering with Cogent.

Here's a nice summary:

And Last Night:
   "Sprint-Nextel Severs Its Internet Connection to Cogent  

Many of us remember how various peering wars especially in the late  
90's made aspects of using the internet difficult and unreliable,  
(latency and reliability issues).  Recent years, IMHO, have been much  
better- (though people on this list from various ISP's may say  
different :)

I speak here as a user, from home, to business IT, to being a 'Colo  
Consumer' at various scales.

For those who forgot, or for whom it wasn't relevant back then, this  
commonly affected both datacenter/colo services, as well as last-mile  
connections- at least far more than recent years- from a 'user'  
perspective.  Peering problems have happened since, and Cogent is no  
stranger to peering disputes...

Well, suddenly alarms are going off in my brain, yesterday's net  
hiccups feel like bad old times.

My DSL (Speakeasy) gets quite slow for small periods of time since  
yesterday.  OpenBSD 4.4 release today is coming down *slowly*.  My  
home-office telecommute work day is sucking rocks.
My neighbor (Comcast Cable), reported less than 20k bandwidth for long  
periods of time last night.

Admittedly unscientifically, from my endpoint --> traceroute to known  
points in NYC, now go through mzima where they used to always go  
through some level3 pipes- so I *believe* I'm not crazy to say the  
Sprint/Cogent de-peering affected my piddly DSL, (as it reportedly  
seems to affect a lot more people).

MY SMALL QUESTION (paging mr. Pilosoft...)

Cogent.  What's their deal?  Are they really the McBandwidth that  
people speak of?  Do they undercut the other carriers, as seems to be  
the legal/financial problem today- or are they a logical business  
manifestation in a market slow to change- (and in technology, I'm  
implying change moves with Moore's law)?

 From my view of available bandwidth in North America, all the big  
carriers have not met my expectations- none of them have had incentive  
to continue to invest in their infrastructure.  I know this is a huge  
and arguable notion, but the way that amortized expenditures have  
played out in the open market make an environment where carriers want  
to squeeze as much use out of any infrastructure deployed.

Can anyone on list who deals with pipes from the datacenter  
perspective Clarify WTF is up with Cogent for a 'Colo consumer' like  

Is this de-peering related to the big economic meltdown in some  
tangible way?

(why not- it is Haloween after all, muahahaha)

I'm NOT saying this backbone/growth situation is an evil conspiracy,  
(though the big carriers do have a trollish history of greed and  
neglect); maintaining stability of the market as we know it can really  
stifle growth, e.g.:

"Union Protests Verizon's Neglect Of Copper"
(in favor of FIOS expendatures, 6 months ago)

The workers seem to have had a valid point, (and are picketing more  
recently on similar lack-of-sane-resources issues).  However, as an  
end user, I need the coming fiber *like yesterday*.  And there is the  
rift.  Upgrades.

I would argue that to continue to compete and grow internationally,  
American businesses desperately need increased bandwidth all around-  
especially at the datacenter.  I argue that carriers need to be  
supported in, as well as held accountable for, planning upgrade cycles.

All the IT managers on list, at a myriad of tech and non-tech  
companies big and small, can understand tech growth strategies.
With servers and computers, the cost of upgrade is commonly  
understood.  In healthy (lucky) environments, growth is even planned  
for- that's part of an IT manager's job.  We all get it.
With that working understanding, the slow/expensive/unreliable  
offerings from internet carriers are truly frustrating.

As a 'Colo consumer', I know full well how increased speed, latency,  
and stability affect many businesses bottom line.  Typically,  
bandwidth decides success or failure of various businesses I've worked  
with.  Stable computing is always my job, but the carriers are one  
element which is completely out of my hands.

Lately, the economist Paul Krugman has come to the forefront through  
the market meltdown.
I think the sentiment of this 6 year old article is absolutely  
relevant today,

NY Times, December 6, 2002
"Digital Robber Barons?"

Krugman writes:
"For example, I personally have no choice at all: if I want broadband,  
the Internet service provided by my local cable company is it. I'm  
like a 19th-century farmer who had to ship his grain on the Union  
Pacific, or not at all."

More destructive than the lack of competition among providers, I would  
argue, is that the big telcos are "getting into farming" themselves-  
so to speak.

Those here who know me, know that for years I always argue for a sort  
of "Separation of Content and Infrastructure", which I argue is  
similar in it's aim to the US Constitutional "Separation of Church and  

The myriad of other businesses the 'big backbone telcos' are running,  
(the wireleess phone mafia, ringtones, media/content distribution  
[think Viacom], CDN's, software/application/web development, etc...)
This is as repressive as a world where Wall Mart was in charge of the  
roads and streets- what if Wall Mart built roads in place of the US  
Department of Transportation?
In the world of roads and streets, this scenario is clearly  
unacceptable.  In the world of backbone telcos, why do we all tolerate  
Why do so many people embedded in the business of technology simply  
lump disparate content and infrastructure digital businesses together  
and accept it all as 'technology'?

Is government legislation of the backbones, (like the construction and  
maintenance of roads), an answer?  American government sure hasn't  
been mature enough to rationally come close to this issue, (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_of_tubes 
 >), but perhaps now that Ted Stevens is in the tank, <http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=avU1ymwZg4R4&refer=home 
 >, we may have some hope... (haha).

(I've had it up to here with this mania...)

Seriously- I feel this may be a critical moment to be thinking the  
notion of US Government regulation or involvement in internet  
infrastructure.  Fundamental concepts and principles, not just  
technical implementation details.

"If Obama Appoints a Tech Czar . . ."
By Garrett M. Graff
"Names kicking around Silicon Valley and the tech community as CTO  
candidates include Google’s Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the  
Internet, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay founder  
Pierre Omidyar, and Lotus pioneer Mitch Kapor."

Yuck.  Since when did the most successful cutthroat Silicon Valley  
business leaders have any any place as public servants, where greater  
issues than their short-term tech market is at stake?  The internet,  
and use of digital networks, is beginning to augment the fundamental  
fabric of our post-industrial lives.

While it's exciting to me that a committed government 'CIO' post would  
be considered in the first place.  It seems far better than a  
continuation of current network policy practices- a wild-west  
mentality where the administration simply ignores the public issues,  
and the most attention networks and technology get is from technology  
people like Mike Connell, among others (a Bush White House IT  
Additionally, we're watching the collapse of unregulated wild-west  
economics.  Nobody is game to simply 'let the market decide' any more.

But even the accomplished Vint Cerf bothers me in this role- as he  
currently is "Chief Internet Evangelist for Google" (Google's  
businesses have come to mangle Content and Infrastructure from an  
opposite position to the Telcos, IMHO).

Who else could make a good candidate?
What history of other critical infrastructure in North America is  
worth studying?
   - railroad
   - interstate highways
   - city roads
   - electrical grid
   - water rights
What, with communications networks, could fundamentally change?

With the election coming up next Tuesday, I DO NOT want this post to  
degenerate into a political thread- but I would like to point out the  
stated policies of our incumbent candidates are a VERY interesting read:



I may sound negative here, but truly, I'm amazed and delighted the  
internet works at all- every day- and love working in it.
Sorry for the long essay style post- if you read this far, thanks!  If  
you choose to constructively comment, on or off list, (even  
constructively tell me I'm nuts), thanks even more!

Who has internet backbone?

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