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Saturday, September 9 • 3:05pm - 3:40pm
The Evolution of the Internet Interconnection Ecosystem: A Peering Policy Survey

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In 2009, William Norton (cofounder of the IXP Equinix and author of the Internet Peering Playbook) conducted a survey of peering policies. A “peering policy” is an expression by a network of inclination to enter into settlement free peering arrangements. Norton’s objective was to foster peering by demonstrating common benchmarks used by industry participants and encouraging newer entrants to expand the value of their networks through peering. Increasing interest in interconnection is good, after all, for the business plans of those who facilitate interconnection: Internet exchange points (IXPs) such as Equinix.

Peering policies historically were proxy measurements for when networks were “peers” (a.k.a. roughly equal networks in terms of geographic reach, traffic, service or size). When networks were peers and peering policies were met, networks would enter into settlement free peering arrangements where each paid their own costs to reach the interconnection point, but neither network charged the other based on the exchange of traffic. Peering increased the reach of both networks and increased their value through network effect (peering also improved network performance, increased resiliency, and has even been reported to result in increased levels of happiness among network engineers).

The interconnection market evolved. No longer is traffic mostly exchanged between two tier 1 backbone networks meeting at in the core of the Internet. Now, content has moved closer to eyeballs, with CDNs locating servers at the gateways of broadband Internet access service providers (at regional IXPs), and backbone networks becoming feeder networks for CDN and cloud services. Broadband Internet access service providers have evolved from paying transit to receive Internet traffic, to receiving access paid peering fees from content providers for access to eyeballs. Large broadband Internet access service providers, through mergers and buildout, have horizontally diversified their business plans to include backbone services and CDNs (they have also vertically diversified). Backbone providers have diversified to provide CDN and enterprise access services. It is increasingly difficult to identify two networks which would meet traditional proxy benchmarks of being peer “like networks.”

This paper seeks to engaged in a new survey of online published peering policies (and similar online data published in peeringDB) to identify how the market evolution has impacted peering policies. This work will generate a baseline of normative behavior and contrast outlier policies. Based on initial work, the following emerges: content networks have the most open peering policies while broadband access services have the most restrictive; peering policies generally require a geographic diversity of interconnection at 3 to 4 major peering cities; broadband access services require balanced traffic ratios within a 2:1 range where content networks have no traffic ratios; broadband access services policies have localization requirements; and bit-mile routing (a proposal of Level 3) is only required by Level 3’s peering policy.


David Gabel

Queens College


Saturday September 9, 2017 3:05pm - 3:40pm EDT
ASLS Hazel Hall - Room 329