Sprint And Cogent Remind Us That The Internet Is Held Together With Handshakes And Duct Tape
from the peer-this dept
Every time this happens, it reminds us all how fragile the internet is, not because of any bandwidth crunch, but because the overall network really only works thanks to the fact that all of the big internet providers agree to share traffic across their networks through "peering" arrangements, some of which are more informal than others. The problem is that these peering arrangements are supposed to be just that: about "peers" agreeing to share traffic for the betterment of everyone. But, when you have a company like Cogent, who focuses on being just a dumb pipe that sells as much bandwidth as possible at very low levels, then the other peers start to feel that it's unfair. Cogent ends up dumping a lot more traffic on them than they do on Cogent. In this case, Sprint is claiming that Cogent failed to meet the terms of a signed agreement for peering, and has since refused to pay to keep connecting to its network, hence the shut off. Cogent, for its part, is using this mess as something of a PR opportunity, offering free internet connections to Sprint customers during this Sprint outage and saying that all other major carriers have full connectivity to Cogent.
In the end, like all of the other disputes, this one will get worked out and the internet will continue to function -- but it still is worrisome that much of the internet really is reliant on these companies agreeing to continue to play nice with each other.