Telecom sets date for local peering service

A trial starts later this month with full service due by August

Telecom’s wholesale arm has set a date for its proposed new peering service and says it will be run on a “bill and keep” basis, or essentially free of charge.

ISPs, content providers and “anyone who wants to exchange data” will be allowed to link to a local peering centre, says spokesman Steve Pettigrew.

“The emphasis is on exchange,” he says — flow of data across the link between Telecom and other networks is expected to be approximately equal in each direction.

The service will provide “internet-type” connection “in other words on a best-efforts basis”, he says.

A trial, with a limited number of ISPs and content providers, is due to start later this month over three centres, probably Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, leading to a final offering around August, according to Pettigrew.

“I was told it was going to be July,” says Jamie Baddeley of the ISP Association of NZ (ISPANZ).

Telecom aims to set up 29 peering points on its national network and peering will be gradually extended to more of them on the basis of demand, Pettigrew says.

The main snag,

according to Baddeley, is that participants will have to pay the cost of getting from their nodes to the chosen location of the Telecom nodes. These will be the SkyTower in Auckland and Murphy Street, Thorndon for Wellington. The location of a Christchurch peering point is still unclear.

However, if the ISP is already purchasing a wholesale service from Telecom, Pettigrew says, a suitable link with spare capacity for peering may already be in place.

In earlier stages of negotiation, ISPANZ had proposed that Telecom pay for the link at about half the nodes to equalise costs, but the final arrangement “is based on us coming to them at all 29 points”, Baddeley says.

Telecom has mentioned that it might be amenable to some cost-sharing, but wants to negotiate this on an ISP-by-ISP basis and there is concern that there could be some favouritism unless the negotiations are completely transparent, he says.

The other limitation, he says, is that the offer only applies to DSL internet traffic at present, which is about half of the total Telecom traffic currently suffering from a lack of peering.

Peering used to take place freely through specially built exchanges in Auckland and Wellington but, in 2004, first TelstraClear and then Telecom withdrew their participation in the peering agreement.

This has forced local traffic to take long routes to its destination, often via Australia or the US, and some major content providers have found it cheaper to site their servers overseas than in New Zealand.

Baddeley cautiously welcomes the plan. “Credit to them for doing it, but I’d say we’re only about a third of the way [towards full restoration of peering].”

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