Comcast-Level 3 Feud Stirs Intense Debate

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The dispute between Comcast and Level 3 has generated intense discussion around the web, with some arguing that Comcast’s actions breach Net Neutrality, while others insist it’s an unusually noisy peering dispute. Meanwhile, both companies are using statement, blogs and letters to support their case. Here’s our roundup of noteworthy links and commentary from around the Web:

Level 3: This is not a Peering Dispute - Level 3 rebuts Comcast’s claim that this is a peering dispute: “It is regrettable that Comcast has sought to portray this simply as a commercial disagreement or a peering dispute. They miss the point and are attempting to distract from the fundamental issue. The fundamental issue is not whether Comcast sends more traffic to Level 3 or whether Level 3 sends more traffic to Comcast. The fundamental issue is whether Comcast, as the largest cable company in the country with absolute control over access to its cable TV and broadband access subscribers, has the right to unilaterally set a ‘price’ for that access that effectively discriminates against competitors of Comcast’s cable and Xfinity content.”

Comcast’s Letter to FCC on Level 3 – In a letter to the FCC, Comcast provides details recent activity with Level 3 traffic: “Level 3 approached Comcast approximately two weeks ago (shortly after reaching their Netflix agreement, we later learned, although they made no mention of it at the time) and demanded 27 to 30 new interconnection ports, which would allow them to send a much greater amount of traffic onto Comcast’s network. To that request, Level 3 added the following twist: it insisted that Comcast should provide it with all those new facilities — and support this vast new influx of traffic — for free.”

Forget Net Neutrality; Comcast Might Break the Web – Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm: “The fight that erupted today between Level 3 and Comcast involves an esoteric agreement between two of the Internet’s big players colliding with a series of equally arcane policy arguments, but at its core this fight is about money. Yet what began as a commercial dispute may end up fundamentally changing how the web works and who pays for it.”.

Level 3 outbid Akamai on Netflix by reselling stolen bandwidth – George Ou at the Digital Society blog: “Level 3 won that (Netflix) bid because it intends to break its contractual obligations on peering with Comcast and essentially resell stolen bandwidth to Netflix. Now it makes perfect sense how Level 3 managed to outbid Akamai since no CDN provider operating legally could outbid hot goods.”

The Real Issue In Comcast’s Dispute With Level 3 Is About Power, Not Money – CDN expert Dan Rayburn from The Business of Video: “From my perspective, I’m glad to see Level 3 making this issue public and bringing it to everyone’s attention, as the topic needs to be debated. The discussion should not be about Netflix or the CDN business as that’s not what the crux of this is about. Net neutrality is really the heart of this debate.”

The Real Story Behind the Comcast-Level 3 Battle – Dan Gooding, writing at GigaOm: “No one here did anything wrong; these disputes aren’t uncommon. Well, no one did anything wrong until Level 3 whined to the press and regulators. When you’re on the losing side of a peering dispute, you’re always tempted to complain to regulators about how you’ve been treated unfairly. Then you remember a regulated peering arrangement is the only thing worse than what we have now.”

Dr. Peering on Internet Peering – An explanation of peering from the Dr. Peering web site by Bill Norton. “Definition: Internet Peering is the business relationship whereby companies reciprocally provide access to each others’ customers. This definition applies equally to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Content Distribution Networks (CDNs), and Large Scale Network Savvy Content Providers.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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