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Re: sprint passes uu?

  • From: Paul Vixie
  • Date: Fri Oct 18 12:36:05 2002

i wrote:

> > transit prices have been in free fall, and worldcom has not been
> > following them downward.  however, after the cleansing ritual of
> > chapter 11, i think they will be in a fine position to reset their
> > per-megabit charges in ways that make them a compelling transit
> > provider.  their network's been great.

several people answered me, privately.  i'm going to respond publically
but preserve anonymity:

> But WorldCon billing is a nightmare.  We'd really like to stay
> connected to UUNet, but WorldCon's inability to bill us in accordance
> with our contract and insistance that we pay bills they know are
> complete works of fiction make it really difficult.

there is a curious mixture of fact and fiction in the general response
to a uunet bill.  in their version of banded rates, you don't know what
rate you will owe until the end of the month, but you pay your commit at
the start of the month (or at least that's what MIBH was doing, since
the overall costs were lower in that case).  i usually found that if i
read my uunet bill by candlelight during a new moon, i was able to
figure out what it all meant and tie it all back to some kind of

i know that there are also just plain errors in some of the bills i've
been a third party to.  however, these errors are no wierder than the
ones on my SBC/PacBell frame relay bills.  remember as you read these
things that IP providers are resisting commodotization, and that means
they have to give out quotes, contracts, and invoices that do not map
"apples to apples" against a competitor's quotes, contracts, or
invoices.  this is creativity for the sake of creativity, and i'd like
to see it end, but i don't know how or when that can happen.

the real debate is about actual measured cost per bit or per
bit-kilometer, and to that end, this next anonymized reply attempts to
"go there":

> I got Worldcom to quote me $170/meg for a 100Mb commitment about a
> month ago.  If that's not freefall, I don't know what is.

that's not freefall.  get yourself a quote from cogent or level(3), for
examples.  at $170/Mbit for 100Mbit/sec commit you are either paying for
"name brand" or you're paying for quality of on-net service to their
other customers or you're just plain getting brutalized.

note that $170/Mbit is actually below cost for any network smaller than
sprint's or uunet's, once you figure in the people, the routes, the
rent, and the depreciation, and then fuzz it based on economies of
scale.  however, the market hasn't bottomed yet, and most people still
don't know what their costs are.  once we bottom out and start
regenerating, $200/Mbit to $300/Mbit for wholesale high-commit transit
is going to be just about right, given the single-digit NPM that you get
from high capital long term commodity plays.

let's talk about network quality, though:

> > their network's been great.

> modulo a couple of recent multi-hour meltdowns (one nationwide one
> regional), yes.

i can remember similar meltdowns in sprint, teleglobe, abovenet, mci,
c&w, psi, qwest, and at&t (both voice and data for at&t).  most of these
networks were grown immaturely, without offline simulation of either
current or proposed changed topologies.  indeed, most of them are too
large to simulate offline, so the only system level testing they get is
the live kind.  equipment vendors and routing protocols have been in
continuous flux.  periodic meltdowns do not indicate either incompetence
or lack of investment, merely that there's been more growth than was
sane.  (in other words, the dotcom overshoot in networking was
technical, not just fiscal.)  uunet's network is still as good as they
come, and the people who keep it running are still near the top of the
field.  (though i understand there's been some personnel runoff during
the chapter 11.)

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