North American Network Operators Group

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NAP History (was RE: The large ISPs and Peering)

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Thu Jul 26 12:26:19 2001

On Thu, 26 July 2001, Curtis Maurand wrote:
> A rose by any other name...  The fact is, and history shows us, that when
> cartels form, things get bad for the consumer.  Oil, Electricity,
> telecomm.  However, The placement of the NAP's is disconcerting, because
> the process for choosing them was closed.   Does it make sense for all of
> my traffic going to from (both in Maine and in the
> same communities) to exchange traffic at MAE east 650 miles away?

The first selection of the NAP's was an "open" process a number of years
ago when a group at NSF choose where to place the NAPs.  NSF issued an RFP,
there were a number of proposals received, committees of outside experts,
notification through public notice, etc.  At that time three NAPs were
chosen (San Francisco, Chicago, and New York) and one alternate
(Washingington DC). Over the last half-decade, and additional public
exchange points have been formed, and probably an equal number of private
exchange points.  Some of the additional exchange points have grown very
large, such as CIX, MAE-West, LINX, AMS-IX, even though they didn't have
NSF's "stamp of approval."

If and want to exchange traffic in Maine, nothing
changed.  The existance or non-existance of a group of national exchange
points doesn't change the argument for or against local exchange points.
I still believe it makes sense for local and regional ISPs to have local
and regional exchange points.  You don't need an OC48 to peer with other
ISPs in your region.

A couple of years ago, when several large carriers decided that NAPs didn't
make sense and they could provision private circuits directly between each
other better, faster cheaper; several of us (see the NANOG archives) argued
it didn't make economic or engineering sense.  I even argued ending the
existance of public NAPs raised the barrier to entry for new market entrants
because of the "combination problem."  For example, if everyone requires
three points of interconnection, with common NAPs a new market entrant needs
to build out three inter-city locations at the common NAPs.  But if five
major ISPs each require three points of interconnection, but they each
choose a different set of cities for new entrants to connect to their
networks, a new entrant may need to build 15 inter-city locations.

The IETF holds a common meeting of its working groups in location three
times a year.  While participants going to a single working group may
not find it as efficient than having private meetings, it is more efficient
for people who want to attend multiple working group meetings to hold them
all at the same location.

Airlines have created "hub cities."  However, airlines set up their hubs
so most of them don't overlap.  The other alternative is setting up a
common location with most of the major competitors, such as the New York
Stock Exchange or the Chicago Board of Trade.  Markets can be more efficient
if all the participants know they can go to a common location, and compete
in that location.  Markets seem less efficient when competitors have
seperate hub locations.

Are there downside risks, of course.  When the CIX router moved from the
Worldcom Santa Clara POP to the PAIX, at least one major ISP used that
change as an opportunity to terminate some of its peering.  Did the presence
of the CIX router increase the business at the PAIX, probably.  But its
not a given.  LINX has built out the LINX fabric in several locations
in London.  The presences of the LINX helped some locations, and didn't
help other locations.  If Telehouse has problems in London, the existance
of the LINX magnifies the impact.  If the New York Stock Exchange has
a problem, it affects a lot more companies than if they each traded on
seperate exchanges.