UUNET goes public with ISP peering policy

By Jennifer Jones, InfoWorld |  Networking

ALTHOUGH MOST LARGE ISPs are now shying away from peering arrangements with smaller players in favor of more lucrative wholesale deals for carrying Internet traffic, UUNET recently made public the criteria it uses when deciding to enter such bartering agreements.

"We have gone through some trouble to document very carefully when we would consider it beneficial to peer with others," said Vint Cerf, senior vice president of Internet architecture at the Ashburn, Va.-based ISP.

"Other ISPs can now plan for the terms and conditions we will be looking for," he continued.

The trend among larger ISPs, however, has moved away from peering arrangements, noted Steven Harris, a New York-based analyst for IDC. "They want to get customers to buy wholesale transit instead," he said.

But UUNET officials said the company decided to make public its peering policies to help "demystify" the peering process. Usually decided in closed-door meetings, peering involves two ISPs agreeing to hand off traffic for each other at no cost.

Though not often published, the parameters for peering agreements are not exactly industry secrets, Harris said.

"Most people know when they are able to peer with one of the big carriers or not. It has a lot to do with traffic levels," Harris said.

But UUNET and others hold the list of ISPs with which they have peering agreements very close to the vest, Harris noted.

Other industry players such as Burlington, Mass.-based Genuity have also come out publicly with the guidelines used in a peering agreement. Genuity in August published the guidelines at www.genuity.com/infrastructure/interconnection.htm.

Genuity officials said the move was designed to make it easier for other ISPs to understand their criteria when scouting out peering agreements.

UUNET used its decision to go public with peering policies as an opportunity to update the criteria.

"We had a peering policy, but it was four years old," Cerf said. "We are trying to ease the process of discovering peers and we took that opportunity to update the details."

Some of the details include geographic requirements for ISPs, traffic exchange ratios, backbone capacity, and traffic volume.

UUNET also places operational requirements on its peering partners, insisting for instance that each maintain a "fully functional 24x7 network operations center," according to the policy.

International requirements are also included in UUNET's revised policy.

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