Level 3 Accuses Six ISPs in Europe and US of Deliberately Slowing Traffic

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Level 3 Communications has accused six major unnamed ISPs in the US and Europe of deliberately refusing to upgrade their service to deal with users’ traffic needs.

According to a blog post this week from Mark Taylor, Level 3 VP of Content and Media, the ISPs in question are Level 3 peering partners, and also happen to have “a dominant or exclusive market share in their local market.”

“Congestion that is permanent, has been in place for well over a year and where our peer refuses to augment capacity. They are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers. They are not allowing us to fulfil the requests their customers make for content,” Taylor said.

Level 3 has 51 peers in total, relying on agreements with these providers to deliver connectivity in areas where it doesn’t have a network. Of these 51 peers, there are 12 that have ports saturated and utlized at 90 percent. Six of those 12, according to Taylor, have a single congested port and are in the process of making upgrades. The remaining six peers have congestion on “almost all” of the interconnected ports between Level 3.

Taylor said that the companies with the congested peering interconnects also happen to rank last in customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. According to the index, the bottom six include Comcast, Time-Warner, CenturyLink, Charter, AT&T and Cox.

Last year, Comcast accounted for 49 percent of new broadband subscribers. Earlier this year, Comcast announced its intention to acquire Time Warner Cable, which US lawmakers spoke this week about the negatives in the $45 billion deal.

Level 3 and Comcast have had an ongoing feud. One of the cornerstones of their disagreement is the fact that Level 3 provides CDN services for Netflix, the internet’s single largest consumer of bandwidth. In 2010, Comcast argued that Level 3’s arrangement with Netflix would create an imbalance of traffic between Level 3 and Comcast.

As InfoWorld points out, back-end peering arrangements are the “real unsung net neutrality story” since many of these take place behind the scenes.

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