North American Network Operators Group

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Worldly Thoughts

  • From: Alan Hannan
  • Date: Thu May 09 23:12:08 1996

  Pondering many things.

  Namely, the evolution of the Internet.  Without respect for the
  many NAPs popping up (which is good), without respect for the lack
  of available bandwidth (which is bad), I am concerned about the
  evolution of our business.

  I'll state the obvious to establish a direction.  In the beginning
  there were researchers, and they were good.  They built a network,
  and it was extended to include core groups, and they also found it
  to be terribly useful.  
  This was extended to Beta in the form of the NSFNet, managed by our 
  friends at ANS and Merit, which gave rise to my neck of the woods, 
  MIDnet, which provided me a passion and livelihood.  Off goes the 
  funding, off goes the backbone topology.  Enter NAPs, and peering
  problems.  Version 1.0.  Oh joy.

  In the past, we were (excuse the metcalfesque) centrally managed,
  and issues of peering were resolved by one body.

  As we examine peering, we happen upon an inquisition into desire,
  and motivation.  NSPs [Network Service Providers] (defined as
  anyone who is paid to connect some entity to another entity) found
  that they could go to a NAP or Meet Point, and gain access to
  everyone else.

  I can think of smallish turf battles, the CIX silliness, and the
  quarrels over what it really meant to be "on the Internet".  At
  one point, it meant just to BE at the NAPs, as being at the NAPs
  implied that you could talk to everyone there.

  And then, just like Babylon, people stopped talking to each other.
  And so I view the future, unless things change.  That's not to say
  I'm armageddonish, or even diluvian, just observant of the
  significant dynamic changes this is currently wreaking.  

  So, WHY would an NSP enter into a peering agreement with another
  person?  Why, to profit from the one side of the connection, to
  enable an entity [labeled A] to talk with some other entity [labeled 
  B].  In most cases, NSP1 had as customer A, and NSP2 had as customer B,
  and obv. it was in their best interest to meet somewhere to talk
  to each other.  NSP1 added value to A, by providing a path to B.
  NSP2 added value to customer B by providing a path to A.

  So, comes my curiosity, and my puzzling thoughts about the current
  state of the net.  Why is it not in my best interest to talk to
  NSPX at a meet point?  Why, when it is in MY customer's best
  interest to talk to EVERYONE, would I not converse, and share
  knowledge and invitations about my customer base?

  My thought, conspiratorally, is that larger folks (NSP4) could 
  care less about talking to NSP3's p% of the net, when there is a 
  lower cost involved in talking to NSP4's q% of the net, 
  assuming q >>> p.

  And yet, I fail to grasp why it is not in their best interest to
  still include that group located in p%, NSP3's customers.  Perhaps
  because they'd rather have the customers?

  I'd appreciate hearing the rounds of explanation why larger NSPs
  don't want to talk w/ smaller NSPs.

  Just because someone has 30% of the internet, they still have an
  interest in connecting their 30% of the net to .1% of the net, no?

  Perhaps the geographic cost investment in transit to far-reaching
  customers is sufficient.  Somehow that doesn't answer the question
  for me.

  I'm not talking about transit, I don't think it's necessarily in
  NSP3's interest to carry NSP4's traffic to NSP1.  But NSP3-NSP4 I
  can see as beneficial, w/ no dalliance.


   "baring my heart for the wrath of all"

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