Network Operator Fight Leads to Call to Feds

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2005-10-17

Some consumers feeling the impact of a spat between two major Internet network operators are asking for government intervention, but, so far, theres no substantive move by lawmakers or utility regulators to step into the fray.

As significant numbers of businesses and consumers found out recently, Level 3 Communications, a major Internet network operator, refuses to make room for traffic from rival Cogent Communications because of an ongoing dispute about financial arrangements.

The nasty turn has disrupted Internet service for between five and 10 of Cogents customers, Cogent estimates.

The subsequent customer outcry gives new life to an old question concerning the necessity of the U.S. government to regulate traffic-swapping arrangements between major communications providers.

These agreements, as the experiences of the last few days show, are so key that they can bring Internet traffic to a halt for significant amounts of people.

Critics fear that more of these spats between operators will erupt, cutting off even more people. Such spats also bolster arguments from several European governments that are calling for the United States to relinquish its unilateral control over Internet governance, in favor of a new body. The United States opposes the changes.

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