heise online · c't · iX · Technology Review · Telepolis · mobil · Security · c't-TV · Jobs · IT-Markt · Kiosk
heise online
news 21.04.2005 14:48
<< Previous | Next >>

France Telecom severs all network links to competitor Cogent

In France a fierce dispute has erupted between the two largest IP carriers on the market. Last Thursday, April 14, without prior warning France Telecom severed all links between its IP network and that of its largest competitor Cogent. Since then all parties linked via Cogent, including quite a number of German customers, have been unable to reach the majority of France Telecom's customers.

It is absolutely vital for major Internet carriers such as the US company Cogent to create as many interfaces as possible for incoming and outgoing traffic between its network(s) and those of its competitors (interconnection). This a company can achieve, for example, by linking up to public Internet nodes such as the German DeCIX.

Of almost equal importance, however, are private traffic exchange agreements with competitors (private peering). When such a contract is signed the carriers link their autonomous networks (AutonomousSystem, AS) at one or more points in a self-financing fashion. When and in what manner such linking is undertaken each carrier specifies in a "peering policy," which in most cases is publicly accessible.

France Telecom, which is still state-owned, is now accusing Cogent of having violated its peering policy. In an internal memo from group headquarters sent to marketing department staff and dated April 15, which heise online has seen, it says laconically: "Yesterday FT severed its direct network links to Cogent, because that company has violated two criteria of our peering policy. As an act of retribution and with the intention of cutting the links of their customers to those of France Telecom, Cogent has now blackholed all France Telecom IP addresses. This unilateral measure violates the rules of the Internet community."

In a talk with heise online yesterday the head of Cogent, Dave Schaeffer, expressed outrage. He said that he could not detect in what manner his company could be said to have - all of a sudden - violated the peering policy of France Telecom. For four years peering had worked smoothly and the traffic at the exchange nodes had been rising continuously, he declared. An act of retribution in response to the actions undertaken by France Telecom like the one described in the said e-mail had not taken place: "That is simply ridiculous," he asserted. What was a fact, however, was that Cogent customers, because they were being cut off from part of the French Internet, were being hurt by the measure, he noted.

For some time now the European carrier industry has been warily eyeing its rapidly growing overseas competitor (see also the c't Magazine article "Bosse der Fasern [Lords of the Fibers]"). By taking over the US company PSInet the provider, founded in 1999, entered the business in a big way, buying into the German market to an appreciable extent to boot. Thus in 2004, besides absorbing the optical fiber networks of Lambdanet in France and Spain, Cogent in Germany bought the network of Carrier1 and the German ISP with a fair amount of tradition, Global Access. Cogent engages in a radical discount policy; for broadband access customers in each country pay up to ten times less than they would if they engaged a competitor from that country to establish a like connection.

Industry insiders hence view this as the real reason behind the steps taken by France Telecom. The established IP carriers are no longer prepared to stand idly by while Cogent demolishes the already shrinking profit margins for carrying IP traffic. "France Telecom's measure is aimed at weakening the quality of our network. The French have become aware that we are getting stronger on their home market by the minute, that with our better prices we are enticing customers away from them and have even meanwhile become France's second largest carrier," Cogent´s CEO Schaeffer speculates.

What is indisputable, however, is that Cogent customers above all are bearing the brunt of this dispute. In the industry speculation is now growing about whether France Telecom with its measure means to kick off a domino effect. "So far none of the major players has dared cut Cogent off. That could change quickly," an expert not prepared to have his name published hypothesized. Speculation focuses on the carriers KPN Eurorings, Level3 and in particular Deutsche Telekom. "That would indeed lead to a serious weakening of the connectivity of our optical fiber network," the head of Cogent Schaeffer explained. "We have not, however, so far received signals to this effect from Deutsche Telekom," he added. (Robert W. Smith) / (jk/c't)

Print version << Previous | Next >>

Latest News

Ericsson improves earnings markedly in first quarter
Wafer manufacturer Siltronic puts a dent in Wacker-Chemie´s earnings
Big Brother at the wheel
Concert and football tickets at ATMs starting in 2006
Another raid to confiscate illegal copies of movies held by release groups
European and Asian notebook markets display impressive growth rates
RFID now in a German hospital
Dispute about biometric passports heating up
France Telecom severs all network links to competitor Cogent
SAP expands position as market leader
Lack of progress on data protection legislation gives rise to complaints
Data protection officer calls for a moratorium on biometric passports

More News...

Copyright © 2005 Heise Zeitschriften Verlag
Privacy Policy   Imprint   Contact     Hosted by Plus.line