TelstraClear starts de-peering this week

ISPs 'forced' to sign-up for commercial offering

Unfazed by network operator protests, TelstraClear last week went ahead with its controversial decision to remove peering at the Auckland (APE) and Wellington (WIX) internet exchanges.

The peering, or exchange of internet traffic, arrangements were inherited when Telstra bought Clear Communications. The latter provider saw peering as a way to increase the efficiency and value of its network in New Zealand. Peering makes it easier for networks to connect to each other and brings other benefits such as shorter and more diverse routes. Networks peering at one or both exchanges can then decide whether or not to exchange data with one another for free or by paying one another.

Auckland ISP Maxnet was informed on Wednesday that TelstraClear would stop peering with it that day at the Auckland exchange. However, as of Thursday, the peering appeared to be in place still, as Computerworld found internet traffic was routed from Maxnet to TelstraClear over the APE.

Maxnet network manager Alastair Johnson says the provider regrets TelstraClear’s decision to cease peering. The ISP says its traffic will reach TelstraClear’s network via Telecom instead of going across the APE, but it is not yet clear how the change in routing will affect performance, Johnson says.

Instead of peering, TelstraClear says ISPs should purchase its Domestic Internet Connectivity service, so as to exchange traffic with its network through data circuits at physical locations elsewhere than the APE and WIX. The DIC is priced at $160 per 1Mbit/s and month, plus setup charges. Alternatively, providers can exchange traffic via another network connected to TelstraClear either through Telecom or international data circuits.

TelstraClear spokesman Mathew Bolland confirmed that the company has begun the “progressive removal of the previous traffic route arrangements at APE and WIX”.

Asked how many providers have purchased TelstraClear’s DIC service in lieu of peering, Bolland says that information is commercially sensitive. However, he says, all TelstraClear wholesale customers have either signed up for the DIC or secured commercial arrangements via another party.

Bolland says after peering has been removed, ISPs and content providers will have other options for exchanging traffic with TelstraClear. They can connect to TelstraClear, connect to Telecom or to someone who connects to TelstraClear or Telecom, he says.

In Australia, Telstra, MCI/Ozemail, Singtel/Optus and Telecom/AAPT peer with each other for free, but charge other providers for exchanging data with their networks. Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said there are “sufficient concerns” over pricing anomalies caused by peering agreements to warrant the implementation of a rigorous monitoring programme.

Questions from Computerworld to the Commerce Commission asking whether internet peering is being investigated or monitored here have so far gone unanswered.

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