Cogent, Level 3 In Standoff Over Internet Access

Level 3, based in Broomfield, Co., cut off the peer-to-peer connection to Cogent, making tens of millions of IP addresses unreachable by Cogent customers, according to one partner affected by the outage.

Cogent, based in Washington, D.C., issued a statement Friday requesting that Level 3 turn back on the Internet backbone peering connection. "Once traffic is being exchanged between the two networks, Cogent will discuss the peering situation with Level 3, anytime, anywhere," the Cogent statement said.

A Level 3 representative said the company would issue its own statement sometime Friday.

Tom Snyder, COO of Xantrion, an Oakland, Calif., consultant and MSP said his team noticed the outage created by the de-peering of the two ISVs and that as many as 45 million IP addresses became unreachable. He said Xantrion was able to spare its customers any long-term impacts by rerouting traffic using failover features in SonicWall firewall products.

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"I've never heard of this happening," Snyder said. "Intentionally shutting down the Internet. That's news."

Snyder added that Level 3 did more than just prevent Cogent from running over its network. Level 3 even disabled the ability for Cogent traffic to automatically be redirected to alternative routes, Snyder said.

"I think that for some reason Level 3 felt they were on the losing side of Cogent's business model. Cogent was underselling them and getting more out of the peering model than Level 3 was getting out of Cogent," Snyder said.

In the Cogent statement, one in which CEO Dave Schaeffer makes a lengthy, direct plea to Level 3 to reopen the peering relationship, Schaeffer said: “We feel this situation can easily be resolved without more impact to the customers of either company. The seriousness of the situation has been made abundantly clear, and for the sake of Internet users, Level 3 should turn the connection back on and both parties should sit down at the table to discuss the situation.”

“In fact, Cogent is willing to offer Level 3 free Internet service across our network to help alleviate their financial situation while also discussing appropriate traffic ratios. Cogent feels allegations of inappropriate traffic ratios have been incorrectly articulated by Level 3. In fact, it is Level 3 who requested that Cogent send more traffic across their network since Level 3 charges by the bit, and increased traffic flow helps them financially,” Schaeffer said.

“Cogent&s connection to Level 3 remains open, on and ready to accept their traffic. There is no situation that prevents them from turning on the connection other than a mindset that is willing to sacrifice customer connectivity at this specific point in time. Cogent feels that Internet users deserve better treatment while this situation is ironed out. That is why Cogent is appealing directly to Level 3 single-homed customers and offering them one year of free, dedicated Internet access to provide them with access to the full Internet, not just the Level 3 portion of it. This offer bypasses the problem, helps the customer attain full access to the Internet and eliminates the roadblock to Cogent&s portion of the Internet. Cogent has already had significant success with this offer and will continue to make it available as long as the peering connection remains turned off by Level 3,” Schaeffer said.