If FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is still figuring out the ins and outs of network interconnection arrangements, traffic management company Cedexis might just be able to help.
After much hue and cry over how ISPs treat Netflix traffic, Wheeler said in June he would officially look into the murky business of peering agreements. While not classifying this as a net neutrality issue, Wheeler declared at the time that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needed to take a closer look at the details of network interconnection arrangements. (See Net Neutrality Redux? FCC Probes Peering Problems.)
"To be clear, what we are doing right now is collecting information, not regulating," Wheeler said in a statement. "We are looking under the hood. Consumers want transparency. They want answers. And so do I."
Now, Cedexis thinks it has way to get those answers. On September 18, Cedexis will present a model to the FCC for monitoring network activity, and it will make its case that the government should use a third-party data provider -- independent from the networks involved -- to help get an accurate picture of how traffic is directed across the Internet.
Cedexis has what appears to be a unique window into how the Internet works in the real world. Taking a crowd-sourced approach, the company has created a group of more than 100 cloud, data center and content delivery network providers, as well as more than 500 large enterprises from LinkedIn to L'Oréal. Participants in the group provide data to Cedexis in exchange for free access to information from all of the players involved.
Cedexis makes money by helping companies optimize content delivery across multiple network service providers. That revenue stream leaves the company free to distribute the raw data from service providers without charge. It does so now with community members, but it could do the same with the FCC.
"Whether the government tries to regulate net neutrality, or whether they try to let the industry self-govern, this is a tool that can provide evidence of what is happening," said Cedexis vice president of marketing Rob Malnati in an interview. "And if I'm an enterprise, I'd be very interested to know that, if I'm paying for a fast lane from Comcast or Verizon, am I getting an improved performance experience?"
The data from Cedexis may sound too good to be true, but the company has already proven its model in France, where the top 20 media companies in the country publish a quarterly report showing the average performance of their content across different ISPs. It's kind of like how Netflix publishes ISP rankings in the US, but with a lot more supporting evidence contributing to the model.
In another sign that Cedexis is on to something big, Frost & Sullivan principal analyst Dan Rayburn, a notorious skeptic, has given the company his stamp of approval. In a blog post in July, Rayburn stated: "If I had to make a list of the top five hottest companies right now, Cedexis would be at the top of the list. Not only because of what they are doing, and how important it is to the market, but also because they share so much of the data -- for free."
The FCC will have the chance to form its own opinion about Cedexis after the company's scheduled presentation later this month.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading