Cogent, Sprint Disconnect Networks, May Cause Web Slowdown

UPDATED With Comments From Sprint: Cogent Communications, one of the largest bandwidth providers in the world, charged that Sprint-Nextel has severed its network from Cogent’s networks. This could cause network slowdown and decrease in web performance. In a statement today, the company said that Sprint unpeered from Cogent’s network at 4:30 p.m. on October 31 30, 2008. Peering is a voluntary process where two networks exchange equal amount of data amongst each other without actually paying each other.  

“It is no longer possible for many Sprint customers and Cogent customers to directly communicate across the Internet,” Cogent said, and alleged that Sprint was in “violation of a contractual obligation to exchange Internet traffic with Cogent on a settlement free peering basis.” The two companies are in litigation over the issue.

I will try and talk to both companies in the morning, but I just wonder if Sprint is the only party to blame here. Cogent, based in Washington, D.C., has been involved in similar unpeering spats with Level 3, Telia and other operators.

Update: Here is a response from Sprint that shows that the situation isn’t as simple as Cogent tries to paint it.  “In 2006, Sprint and Cogent entered into a commercial trial agreement. Cogent failed to satisfy Sprint’s peering criteria and refused to pay Sprint to stay connected to our network. Sprint notified Cogent well in advance that it would disconnect Cogent unless it paid, and Cogent refused. As a result of Cogent’s refusal, Sprint was forced to terminate the commercial interconnection agreement and disconnect its network from Cogent’s.”  

The Sprint spokesperson said that, “Cogent’s posturing in this case is nothing more than an effort to divert attention away from its’ contractual obligations, and this is the latest in a growing list of peering-related disputes between Cogent and Internet backbone providers.”

In the past, these problems have arisen because one of the two network operators felt that they needed to be compensated for the the traffic they were sending to the other. Cogent CEO Dave Schaffer in an interview earlier this year said that carriers hate them because they don’t like “our low-price pricing policy except our customers, and most of the companies have been reluctant peers with us.”

Cogent says that any “Sprint-Nextel wireline customer that is unable to connect to Cogent’s customers a free 100 megabit per second connection to the Internet for as long as Sprint continues to keep this partitioning of the Internet in place.”