Alyson Hurt

Internet backbone operator Cogent has long expressed its displeasure with Comcast’s demands for payment in exchange for accepting Netflix video and other traffic.Comcast has argued that the data Netflix sends into its network creates an imbalance that should be rectified by payments from Netflix and its transit providers like Cogent. Netflix decided to pay Comcast—but Cogent has held out.
Today, Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer made a different argument, saying that Comcast is the one who should be paying for connectivity. He did so while testifying in front of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Comcast’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
Schaeffer pointed to the fact that Comcast is not considered to be a so-called “Tier 1” network. There are a dozen or so Tier 1 networks that make up the closest thing the Internet has to a backbone. Tier 1 networks can reach every part of the Internet simply by peering with one another. Other networks buy “transit” in order to access the rest of the Internet. Peering is a point-to-point connection only, which doesn’t necessarily guarantee passage of traffic to any networks beyond the two involved in the connection.
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