Verizon Gets Snarky, But Basically Admits That It's The One Clogging Its Networks On Purpose

from the snarky-admission dept

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.

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Companies: level 3, level3, netflix, verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Gets Snarky, But Basically Admits That It's The One Clogging Its Networks On Purpose”

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Scote (profile) says:

This is like a company demanding UPS shove all the packages it ordered for it’s company headquarters be delivered through a 6″ mail slot and then blaming UPS for the congestion.

It’s Verizon’s customers who ordered the data, data Verizon promised to deliver them at high speed. Netflix sends it straight to Verizon at locations near where the data was requested, all paid by Neflix and delivered via via Level 3, and instead of saying “thanks for getting that to us” Verizon is saying “how dare you! You should pay us!” This is just all sorts of effed up.

BD says:

Re: Re:

Its more like shipping a package with UPS overnight, it not getting there for three days and when you call them on it they complain the freeway was busy.

This is pure extortion; a content provider buys access to the internet via his ISP at a certain speed or range of speeds (minimums, burstable max’s, etc.) and rate per gb.

You buy access to the internet also at a speed and usage rate.

What the ISPs are trying to do is charge companies extra if consumers choose to use a larger percentage of their usage on them. This disregards the fact they those companies are already being governed by a set of contractual standards which determine their pricing.

Me says:

Re: Re:

I wonder how much this will change things…
> 43983/

It will probably lead to a lot of false reporting and the data will just be thrown out… Most people will use their phones or a laptop with a horrible wifi card to do the test. The bottleneck wouldnt be the ISP. It’d be their wifi.

alternatives() says:

Re: Re: Ok then.

Netflix can sue Verizon if they want.

And I can sue you if I want.

You can sue anyone for anything at anytime. Being ABLE to sue and being justified and able to prevail at trial are different things.

Now if you’d like to explain the reason and evidence and show harm, great. But just saying “sue!” – meh.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.”

Thanks for that. I almost fell for Verizon’s argument.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: A Willingness for Dialogue

reminds me of the lily tomlin routine as a telephone operator (humor grandpa, kidz) where she answers the switchboard (google it) “ATT, we don’t care, because we don’t have to!”

but, the sad state of affairs is, most sites of nearly any type don’t allow either posts, or critical posts, much less warts-and-all free speech…

besides, hasn’t it been shown we actually are foetal battery-blobs in the NSA’s matrix ? ? ?

(okay, spel czech, i might have to give you foetal… aha! no, i don’t! i retract the apology, it is a britishism, but it is a word, you POS…)

Tim K (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem with that, is there is usually no where else to go. For instance, I have comcast, even though I hate comcast. But they are the only service I can even get, not counting dsl, which is not really comparative, so I’m stuck with comcast. That’s how most places are, they have one option for high speed internet, and maybe they have a second option for non-comparable internet

Raging Alcoholic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I also don’t like Comcast. Like you say, they are the only player in the game.

I don’t know much about “Ma Bell” and “Baby Bells” but maybe we need some new players. Maybe economies of scale only work to a certain point. Maybe some of the biggest players need to be broken up so there is more competition in the market place.

Comcast is far too high priced. At half the current price they might be OK. There internet is great but there TV is crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The problem is building the necessary infrastructure is cost prohibitive for there to be multiple providers under the current system where each provider owns the infrastructure. What needs to happen is to create a regulatory system similar to what was setup for electricity in Texas several years ago whereby a company cannot provide retail service and own the infrastructure at the same time. The owner and maintainer of the lines would have to provide access to customers of resellers at a government set rate. The retailers then compete for customers in the market. This would solve the problem.

Smalls (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Electric companies getting into fiber ISP. coming will change the landscape as well. The competitive moat is changing for legacy telecom and they are scrambling to defend the castle as the moat evaporates. VOIP even threatens mobile revenues in populated areas….Google looking to use old NYC pay phones as WiFi hot spots. Massive transition in tech and pricing structures has legacy telecoms pulling out all the stops to stall the advance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I only use Verizon for my mobile service, a service I need to be reliable to perform my job.

Verizon Wireless is reliable everywhere I go.
AT&T delivers my friends SMS messages hours late.
Sprint does not work at my house.
T Mobile sucks at my work.

I would love to drop Verizon, but I NEED their reliable wireless service.

I am sure there are lots of users in the same boat with their wired Internet service. They need it and Verizon is the only option.

Boycotts don’t work when there are no alternatives.

How? says:

Re: Re:

How can they? Who would they switch to? In most markets, while there are TECHNICALLY other options, the others are either WISPs or just as terrible, if not worse, than Verizon. Especially those on FiOS, a few people may be lucky enough to have Google Fiber, or some smaller company providing fiber to their door, but the majority are totally out of luck. So your option is to switch to a smaller ISP and get a smaller (and potentially slower) pipe, never mind any early termination fees for anyone under contract or installation fees for the new service, or hope that eventually this madness ends and Verizon actually provides the service they promised. In the US surely this game they’re playing can only go on for so long before someone comes to the aid of the customers…right?

Anonymous Coward says:

As long as there is ANY sort of broadband monopoly allowed by the US government it means the US isn’t the land of free markets.

It’s only a free market if those paying bribes to government officials don’t want complete control of a service/product.

Bribes are basically how companies such as Apple can have a monopoly and get praised for it, but Microsoft gets an anti-trust investigation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ..asymmetric ..

A bit offtopic but VZ has gone symmetrical for new and current customers, just for info (announced 2 days ago):

I’m not sure 25/10 has been available to new customers recently, you could call them to verify that you’ll get 25/25

cryophallion says:

retroactively prove it should be peering..

Verizon preempted this already. Simple solution… boost upload speeds to match, which of course they don’t expect anyone to use (or they have hidden caps on)… tada, now it’s peering! Now onto making people believe the fact that they get paid by the customer isn’t enough. Oh, right…

Smalls (profile) says:

Re: Re: retroactively prove it should be peering..

Josh, When did VZ stop rolling out FiOS? 2010. When did tech work launch? 2010

When did receive standardization? April 2014. When is commercial launch expected now that standards were finished early (was expected no sooner than EOY 2014)? 2015. Is this tech going to impact cost structures when 1 gbps and pricing? You can bet your backside. 80% cost of install reduction vs. full fiber-to-the-home. Upload/download can be customized but as long as the fiber node is 100m or less you have 1 gbps at your discretion of upload/download. 800/200 or 500/500 simultaneous. Last Fall announcements hit that has been adapted to coaxial in addition to the work on twisted copper telephone lines. If Google can turn a profit on $120 ISP/TV bundle with cost of full fiber install then what is pricing with 80% of install cost removed using $80 for an ISP/TV bundle? is the introduction of internal combustion engine for the old horse carriage. Buggy whip makers are worried and the barrier for entry is falling for content bundlers and producers. DTV purchase by AT&T has me ROFLMAO. DTV/DISH are today’s version of AOL market moat.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: retroactively prove it should be peering..

Your post looks like an advertisement and doesn’t really relate to the topic.

I’m aware of those lab tests. And standardization doesn’t necessarily mean a lot. I’ll believe it when I see it operating in real world conditions in a large deployment. I also highly doubt Verizon will be rolling that out to replace their DSL lines.

andypandy says:

Re: Re:

NO NO NO they want them to pay for the equipment then also pay a fee for sending traffic that their customers have demanded. Sadly this will be twisted to make it look like Level 3 is wrong and some stupid government paid for politicians will support them…the only way out of this is if customers sue and netflix sues, especially if netflix have paid any money to them to resolve the congestion problem, then it would be clear fraud on behalf of the isp and they would be made to compensate Netflix and their customers for deliberately degrading their service..I wish they would be forced to pay at least 50% of their profits but I believe in the US it will probably be a few hours profit for the isp as a fine and nothing to anyone involved.

beltorak (profile) says:

Re: Re:

that’s oversimplified to absurdity. level 3 offered to pay for the one time hookup, verizon wants a recurring fee for the “bandwidth imbalance”. but bandwidth imbalance seems like bullshit. it is not true that verizon would be receiving more data than level 3 is sending – the same amount of data has to travel over both their equipment stacks. i don’t think that the data transmission is going to cause significantly more wear and tear on verizon’s equipment. so in effect verizon wants level 3 to pay both maintenance fees. why can’t level 3 say “your customers are drawing more data from across our pipes, you should pay us”?

I maintain therefore that the “imbalance” is a fiction; level 3 is clearly offering to pay maintenance fees for its end of the bargain, verizon should be willing to do the same. increased bandwidth demands leading to more equipment in service leading to higher maintenance fees is an operational cost of engaging in the data delivery business. if verizon attempts to say that they cannot afford the maintenance fees the increased bandwidth would incur, then that just adds more proof to the assertion that verizon has sold customers bandwidth that it cannot deliver.

that is the bottom line, the crux of the whole dispute, the tl;dr: verizon has sold customers bandwidth that it cannot deliver.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I wonder if Level 3 could just sneak in and connect the lines without Verizon knowing…

I’d prefer Level 3 just cut the existing wiring and tell Verizon that if they want network connectivity into Level 3’s ISP, they are going to have to pay for it.

If they want to peer, they have to deal with the free-transit, not treat Level 3 as a customer. They can’t have their cake and eat it too.

Name says:

..asymmetric ..

Funny, just yesterday in Arizona with Cox, I was downloading a game through Steam and noticed my speed was really fast. At first I figured maybe it was the time of day when the network for Valve wasn’t congested, but when I was done downloading the game I decided to run a test at My download speed in the past was 65 down and 13 up. I am now getting 117 down and 10 up.

Anonymous Coward says:

We need Virtual Network Operators to breakup the Mabell last-mile monopolies.

From Wikipedia:

“A Virtual Network Operator (VNO) is a provider of management services and a reseller of network services from other telecommunications suppliers that does not own the telecommunication infrastructure.

These network providers are categorized as virtual because they provide network services to customers without owning the underlying network. A VNO typically leases bandwidth at the wholesale rates from various telecom providers in order to provide solutions to their customers. The VNO concept is relatively new in the North American market when compared to the European and Asian markets.”

VNOs work with mobile networks. Surely they can work with cable networks too.

MIG says:

If this isn’t a compelling argument for converting the internet into a public resource, I don’t know what is. The internet is just a digital highway system– we’re all fine with highways being public province (for the most part). The highway system is the foundation for commerce. The internet should continue that line of reasoning into the digital realm.

As it stands, what we have is akin to total privatization of all roadways. This is bound to lead to situations where road-owner Verizon will blackmail burgeoning trucking company Netflix because it is doing too well, therefore having a large amount of trucks on the road. If Verizon wanted to close its roads to all Netflix’s trucks then Netflix is denied access to the crucial backbone of its business model. This is never a situation where a corporation will act honorably, understanding that their product drives further innovation, yet is not actually entitled to the credit of those that took it further. Easy solution– don’t allow any private, profit-seeking-above-all-else, venture control any such fundamental resource. It cripples further innovation, and in the case of the tech sector, that is the last place we need to stifle. We’d all be lost without our smartphones.

So screw Verizon and their blackmail scam. Get rid of Verizon. Talking to other people should be a fundamental human right. Change that text we find so holy, yet was written long before a digital realm had a chance to even be considered.

Lastly, change the attitude that these silly narcissists have where they feel that everything they have accomplished was done solely by themselves. Got news for you, if you have learned anything from anyone other than yourself in your entire life, then you have been stealing the knowledge of the 100 billion humans that came before you. You are just the latest to piggyback on someone else’s ideas. Few among us have ever had an original thought. Realize that your vision/product/whatever could not exist without the combined effort of so many humans before you, as well as those in existence today that ship your product, put roads there for your product to be shipped, drill for the oil to fuel the delivery vehicles as well as produce the asphalt it drives on, mine for the raw materials of your product, etc. Also, you did not invent language or numbers or computers or the internet or anything, really.

No one does anything by themselves.

Jim Crowe says:

On suing Verizon for anti-competitive behavior

I am the retired founding CEO of Level 3. As someone with bit experience in dealing with companies’ that have a long and colorful history of blatantly wielding monopoly control of bottleneck facilities, I sympathize with those who say “sue the bums”. Unfortunately, a Supreme Court ruling makes taking this action somewhere between impractical and hopeless. In Verizon vs Tinko,the court’s opinion is generally read to mean, among other things, that in hearing any anti-trust lawsuit against a company regulated under the various telecom related laws, courts will defer to relevant regulatory bodies (i.e., the FCC) before ruling. Given the FCC’s poor track record in dealing abuses by monopoly last mile provider’s this is unfortunate.

But at least for now, that’s the law.

It means that if you are not happy with Verizon playing shameless games with a service they provide and you pay good money for, bombard the congress and the FCC with your objections.


Jim Crowe says:

On suing Verizon

Please add the following observations to my previous post:

Arguing asymmetric traffic ratios or the nuances of interconnection is may be interesting but it does not address the central issue

This is fundamentally an anti-trust question. If Verizon operates in a competitive market, they can charge whatever they choose and whomever they chose. If the market is constrained, then Verizon cannot use a bottleneck facility to disadvantage competitors. This is the reason the Verizon vs Trinko ruling is central to the discussion.


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