Wednesday, 24 October 2018 10:58

Peering transparency of little benefit to Tier 2 ISPs: Britt

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Phillip Britt: "The larger telcos have settlement-free peering agreements with each other, but the smaller ones will continue to pay for these relationships." Phillip Britt: "The larger telcos have settlement-free peering agreements with each other, but the smaller ones will continue to pay for these relationships." Supplied

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission may think that openness about peering arrangements between the larger ISPs will have some meaningful effect. Tier 2 ISP Aussie Broadband respectfully begs to differ.

In a statement on Wednesday, Aussie Broadband managing director Phillip Britt said he was appreciative of the fact that the ACCC had asked the bigger telcos to publicise their peering arrangement. But, he added, it would have no effect in the medium term.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said on Tuesday that transparency on this front would boost competition in the supply of Internet connectivity and hosted services to corporate and government customers. Wholesale market developments would also lead to a better online experience for end users, he claimed.

But Britt said he had perused the peering policies of the larger players and found it to be of little use.

"As the only ISP outside the main four to connect to all 121 points of interconnect [for the NBN] across Australia so far, we still wouldn’t meet the traffic requirements of Optus and TPG at this stage and probably won’t for another three years," said the usually outspoken Britt.

“Telstra does not have as much detail in its policy, but judging from comments such as 'similar traffic volumes should be exchanged between peering partners', we think it would be just as restrictive for smaller players.

“To us, this looks like it may have only been of benefit to the other large provider that wasn’t peering with the rest, which was Vocus.”

While Britt applauded the ACCC's call for transparency, he said in this instance it would create no new opportunities for Tier 2 ISPs, leave alone the smaller players.

“We’re unsure why it would be seen to boost competition in the supply of Internet connectivity and hosted services for government and corporate customers, unless you consider that boost to be one extra player in the main peering group," he said.

“None of the four [Telstra, Optus, TPG and Verizon] peer on the main public Internet exchanges like IX Australia and Megaport, meaning the only way to directly access content on their networks without going via another provider is to have a [paid] transit relationship with them.

"The larger telcos have settlement-free peering agreements with each other, but the smaller ones will continue to pay for these relationships. The terms in these publicly available policies really continue the status quo.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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