[menog] RE: [ncc-regional-middle-east] Peering

Bill Woodcock woody at pch.net
Wed Aug 8 06:44:23 GMT 2007

On Aug 7, 2007, at 12:17 PM, Osama Dosary (dosary) wrote:
> Sometimes its not a good idea to force peering or IX participation.
> I'm sure Bill or Phil address this point.
Yeah...  A regime in which everyone is required to peer with everyone  
else is usually called a "Mandatory Multi-Lateral Peering Agreement"  
or MMLPA, and I think those are a bad idea, because they discourage  
many of the larger ISPs and carriers from wanting to participate  
fully, and they remove the most important check-and-balance on good  
behavior by all ISPs.

Let's say, for example, that one of your competitors is selling a lot  
of service to spammers, who are annoying your customers.  Your own  
policy forbids your customers from sending spam, so you're a "good  
Internet citizen."  Your competitor can make a little bit more money,  
if he takes money from spammers who you and the rest of his  
competitors refused to serve, but he's making that money at everyone  
else's expense.  A tragedy of the commons.  In a normal market, you'd  
send him a warning or two to clean up his business, and if he ignored  
them, you'd "de-peer" him, or disconnect your peering session.  As  
more and more of his peers de-peered him, his costs would go up, and  
eventually he'd be losing money instead of making money, so he'd  
clean up his act, or go out of business.  That's a good feedback  
loop.  If everyone is required to peer with everyone, you lose that  
feedback that keeps people behaving well.

Also, big ISPs and carriers typically have legal departments that  
review every agreement they sign.  A very basic principle of law is  
that it's unwise to sign a contract which binds you to an unknown  
number of not-yet-named parties, which is what an MMLPA is: you're  
agreeing in advance to peer with people who arrive later.  You don't  
know how many of them there will be, or who they will be.  The legal  
departments of bigger companies typically won't approve any contract  
like that.

And most simply, bigger carriers will only peer with other networks  
of similar size.  They'd _like_ to peer with those other networks,  
but they'll find other arrangements if someone tells them that  
peering with someone their own size also requires them to peer with  
someone smaller.  That's insufficient leverage to compel them to  
peer, as we've seen in Perth, Australia, where the ISPs have been  
trying that tack for a long time, without success.


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