Verizon admits to clogging networks after trying to pass blame
So the war of words over interconnection has continued. Last week, we wrote about the back and forth between Verizon and Level 3 on their corporate blogs concerning who was really to blame for congestion slowing down your Netflix video watching. As we noted, Level 3 used Verizon's own information to show that Verizon was, in fact, the problem. Basically, in spite of it being easy and cheap, Verizon was refusing to do a trivial operation of connecting up a few more ports, which Level3 had been asking them to do so for a long time. In other words, Verizon was refusing to do some very, very basic maintenance to deliver to its users exactly what Verizon had sold them.
Earlier this week, Verizon went back to its blog with another blog post from David Young, this one even snarkier than the last. Snark can be fun, but if the underlying message is completely bogus, you're going to run into trouble. In fact, Young's underlying message is so weak, that he more or less admits to absolutely everything that Level 3 was claiming in its post — while pretending it's Level 3 that actually admitted fault!
Last week, Level 3 decided to call attention to their congested links into Verizon’s network. Unlike other Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which pay for connections into ISP networks to ensure they have adequate capacity to deliver the content they have been hired to deliver, Level 3 insists on only using its existing settlement-free peering links even though, as Level 3 surprisingly admits in their blog, these links are experiencing significant congestion. Level 3’s solution? Rather than buy the capacity they need, Level 3 insists that Verizon should add capacity to the existing peering link for additional downstream traffic even though the traffic is already wildly out of balance.
Except… no. Level 3 did not, in fact, call attention to its congested links. It showed that Verizon was the one making them congested by refusing to do the most basic thing that Level 3 had asked them to do: open up some more ports. The claim that Level 3 needs to "buy the capacity" it needs is simply wrong. As was quite clear, Level 3 has plenty of capacity. The problem is the bottleneck… and the bottleneck is Verizon. And Verizon is refusing to fix that bottleneck unless Level 3 pays up. And not the cost of the upgrade. Remember, Level 3 offered to pay the cost of the upgrade itself. Verizon, instead, is trying to change the nature of the deal, allowing its border routers to clog on purpose to force Level 3 to pay a totally new kind of fee to free up the bottleneck that Verizon itself created. It's basically acting as a classic troll under the bridge — failing to deliver what it promises both sides of the internet market, unless it can squeeze a ton of extra cash from Level 3.
Most of the rest of Verizon's snarky post takes a fight that Level 3 had with Cogent a decade ago concerning peering totally out of context. In that fight, it's true that Level 3 cut off peering to Cogent, arguing that Cogent was using much more traffic than Level 3, but that was a true peering arrangement between two transit providers, rather than a connection between a transit provider and the monopoly provider of the end users (who has sold connectivity to those users with the promise that it will enable them to access content from any website). The traffic ratios argument between a downstream/last mile provider and a backbone/transit provider is ridiculous. The traffic ratios have always been way off in part because the broadband providers themselves have always offered more downstream bandwidth than upstream bandwidth.
So, Verizon sets up a world in which the traffic ratios are always going to be off… and then complains that the traffic ratios are off and thus it needs truckloads of extra cash just to connect up a few more open ports? Yikes. Verizon's snarky post simply confirms what many of us have been saying from the beginning. The company is deliberately letting its border router clog up because it wants to wring a lot more money out of other companies, based on a plan to twist old peering disputes between transit providers into a dispute about transit-to-last mile connections… when the traffic ratio has always been way off, in part because of how Verizon itself designed its network! That takes incredible hubris… or incredible market power. Maybe both.