The carrier explains its decision to drop its peering relationship with Cogent

October 7, 2005

4 Min Read

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- Level 3 Communications (NASDAQ:LVLT) today issued the following statement in response to inquires it has received concerning its discontinued peering relationship with Cogent Communications. The following comments can be attributed to Sureel Choksi, executive vice president of Level 3 Communications.

"Free peering, also referred to as settlement-free peering, is a contractual relationship under which two companies exchange Internet traffic without charging each other. In order for free peering to be fair to both parties, the cost and benefit that parties contribute and receive should be roughly the same. The previous arrangement with Cogent was a contractual agreement that, when entered into, met that criteria.

"Over the last six months, our operating subsidiary has assessed all of our relationships to determine whether or not settlement-free peering is still appropriate. We determined that the agreement that we had with Cogent was not equitable to Level 3. There are a number of factors that determine whether a peering relationship is mutually beneficial. For example, Cogent was sending far more traffic to the Level 3 network than Level 3 was sending to Cogent's network. It is important to keep in mind that traffic received by Level 3 in a peering relationship must be moved across Level 3's network at considerable expense. Simply put, this means that, without paying, Cogent was using far more of Level 3's network, far more of the time, than the reverse. Following our review, we decided that it was unfair for us to be subsidizing Cogent's business.

"The arrangement with Cogent was terminable on 60 days' notice. On July 18, we sent Cogent a letter informing them of our intent to terminate the agreement and stop the free exchange of Internet traffic. On August 31, we sent a second letter to Cogent's management regarding our plans and advised them to make appropriate arrangements to prepare for the termination of our agreement. We then contacted Cogent senior management to offer to discuss alternative commercial terms to allow the continued exchange of traffic. Cogent refused. Subsequently, we had a discussion with Cogent's CEO, David Schaeffer, to again advise him of the impending termination. Despite more than 75 days of advance written notice of the termination of our agreement, Cogent apparently failed to notify its customers or make any business plans to prepare for disconnection.

"On October 6, Level 3, as it had repeatedly advised Cogent it would, terminated free traffic exchange with Cogent. Because Internet users, apparently without notice from Cogent and through no fault of their own, have been impacted, Level 3 has, effective immediately, re-established a free connection to Cogent. In order to allow Internet users to make alternative arrangements, we will maintain this connection until 6:00 a.m. ET, November 9, 2005. The effectiveness of this arrangement of course depends on Cogent's willingness to maintain their side of the traffic exchange.

"Over the next 30 days, we will work diligently to help assure Internet connectivity is available to all users on a fair and open basis. Further, as has always been the case, we are willing to work with Cogent to reach a contractual arrangement that is equitable to both parties. If this is not possible, we expect that Cogent will make arrangements with one of the numerous alternative carriers currently offering such services.

"We have gone through similar processes with many other companies with little or no disruption. Those firms chose to enter into arrangements -- either with Level 3 or others -- to obtain the appropriate connectivity and keep the interests of their customers paramount.

"To be lasting, business relationships should be mutually beneficial. In cases where the benefit we receive is in line with the benefit we deliver, we will exchange traffic on a settlement-free basis. Contrary to Cogent's public statements, reasonable, balanced, and mutually beneficial agreements for the exchange of traffic do not represent a threat to the Internet. They don't represent a threat to anyone other than those trying to get a free ride on someone else's network.

"As always, Level 3's goal is to continue to play a role in assuring ubiquitous and fair access to the Internet. We will continue to take appropriate action to receive fair value for the investments that we have made in our network infrastructure and to support the economic viability and vitality of the Internet as an integral part of today's marketplace."

Level 3 Communications Inc.

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