Telecom’s regional peering point plan gets thumbs-up

Under the proposal, any ISP or content provider could interconnect with the incumbent's network

A Telecom proposal to set up 29 regional peering points — to keep local internet traffic as close to home as possible — has got the thumbs-up, after being fleshed-out by Telecom’s wholesale division.

Under the proposal, which has been submitted to the Internet Service Providers Association of New Zealand (ISPANZ), Telecom would peer, or exchange traffic, with all comers. There would be no definition of who could peer with Telecom, says Gerard Linstrom, industry consultation manager for Telecom wholesale. Instead, any ISP or content provider that saw a business case for peering with Telecom, and was willing to bear the cost and effort to do so, could interconnect with the incumbent’s network.

While the precise details, such as pricing, are still being hammered out, Telecom says local peering could be undertaken using gigabit Ethernet links. But there is some flexibility here, says Linstrom. By using logical partitioning of the links and ports, providers with lower bandwidth requirements could pick whatever speed they might want. In addition, the traffic accounting model could be either on a Mbit/s basis — for providers wanting to load-up the circuit to the hilt — or according to data volume. This would be suitable for bursty services aimed at businesses looking for good performance and responsiveness.

According to Linstrom and head of product management, Paul Hayes, the driver for local peering is mainly the improvement of national performance for wholesale providers. Telecom would like to avoid traffic “tromboning” great distances, such as data requested at and destined for Dunedin having to go via Auckland, or worse, overseas.

The coverage zone of the 29 points would be defined by the providers, says Linstrom. But this is one area that ISPANZ peering working group leader Jamie Baddeley is apprehensive about.

“Twenty-nine points is a lot,” says Baddeley. It means 120,000 possible customers approximately per point, which may not be the best number. Then again, having fewer points could see some smaller regional ISPs miss out on peering as they can’t reach Telecom easily, says Baddeley.

Baddeley says Telecom’s willingness to meet at existing shared peering points is good news for providers, even though Telecom may not “peer” at the actual Internet Exchange (IX), such as those in Auckland and Wellington.

Of greater concern, as far as ISPANZ is concerned, is that under the present proposal only Xtra DSL customers would be reachable through the peering points, says Baddeley. Telecom’s business customers are not covered by these and this is something ISPANZ would like to change. “There must be reciprocity at all levels,” Baddeley says.

Linstrom says this is unavoidable because of the way Telecom’s network is structured, with the company’s Xtra broadband customers already being on the circuit in question.

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