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ISP Fights Causing Netflix Packet Drops 289

An anonymous reader writes "We've been hearing more and more reports of ISPs throttling Netflix and other high-bandwidth services lately. The ISPs have denied it, and even Netflix itself seems to believe them. If that's the case, what's going on? Well, according to this article, the blame still lies with the ISPs. While they may not be explicitly throttling connection speeds, they're refusing to upgrade network connections as they demand more money from content distributors. For example, Netflix pays Cogent to distribute their internet traffic. Cogent has an agreement with Verizon to exchange traffic — which works fine until the massive amount of traffic from Netflix makes it a lopsided arrangement. Verizon wants more money from Cogent, and one of their negotiating tactics is simply to stop upgrading their infrastructure so that service degrades. 'There are about 11 Cogent/Verizon peering connections in major cities around the country. When peering partners aren't fighting, they typically upgrade the connections (or "ports") when they're about 50 percent full, Cogent says. ... With Cogent and Verizon fighting, the upgrades are happening at a glacial pace, according to Schaeffer. "Once a port hits about 85 percent throughput, you're going to begin to start to drop packets," he said. "Clearly when a port is at 120 or 130 percent [as the Cogent/Verizon ones are] the packet loss is material."'"
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ISP Fights Causing Netflix Packet Drops

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  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:12PM (#46306335) Homepage

    Cogent has a long history of instigating peering disputes with other networks. Normally I'd complain about Verizon's behavior but this is Cogent we're talking about. They have -zero- credibility.

  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:27PM (#46306489) Homepage

    That isn't even the real point, though I understand where you are going with it. The real issue here is that Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, etc all have agreed to provide their customers with X/Y data connections for a hefty monthly fee. They are refusing to do what it takes for those customers to be able to use what they have paid for. In effect, we are back to the early internet days of ISPs oversubscribing dialup lines except now it is oversubscribing routing equipment during peak hours.

  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @06:25PM (#46306961) Homepage Journal

    >It's when flows are unequal that's when the fights happen - basically the one getting more traffic from the other starts demanding money because they're sharing more of the burden of the traffic.

    That makes no sense. Both sides are sharing the burden, regardless of the direction of the traffic. You still have the packets on your wires. It doesn't matter if they're going left or right.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @06:44PM (#46307153) Homepage Journal

    Every packet coming from Cogent to Verizon is because a Verizon customer paid for it. It really is as simple as that.

    It only seems complicated because the kooky business people make it complicated trying to pass their costs off onto others.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @10:06PM (#46308569)

    Which means Netflix will have to pay their ISP more so they can pay to deliver the data.

    Yep. And probably one reason all the Netflix traffic is going out Cogent, is Cogent has among the lowest fees per Gigabits of data transferred for data in the industry (But a reputation for being the internet's storm gutter due to unreliability in terms of quality metrics such as jitter, packet loss, latency). So instead of buying for $X a gigabit from Verizon, Netflix buys transit from Cogent instead, at a price that is most likely about 80% lower... which no doubt saves Netflix a lot of money.

    The extremely low price is only possible by exploiting and abusing free peering relationships with other Tier1s. If Cogent charged Netflix a higher, more reasonable price ---- that would be more in-line with the fees charged by Verizon, ATT, Level3, etc; it is likely, that Netflix would rationally engineer their traffic, among MULTIPLE transit providers, for best reliability across the board, so that they were more balanced among the Tier1 providers, and not pimping out Cogent links.

    NETFLIX Could do this today, and they apparently choose not to ---- probably because the Netflix subscription prices would have to go up substantially.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984