For not much more than two years AboveNet has been offering a business model that invites content providers and ISPs to plug into the Internet and into each other at Data Centers in San Jose and Washington DC. In order to keep as much traffic as possible local, they may establish their own peering at these Data Centers (AboveNet calls them Internet Service Exchanges or ISX) without being charged for their cross network traffic since it need not use AboveNet infrastructure.

While one AboveNet customer may peer with another AboveNet customer connected at a different Data Center, they would not do it via AboveNet infrastructure since each customer is charged for delivery of bits across the pipes connecting the AboveNet Data Centers. As AboveNet puts it: "We don¹t offer a 'virtual presence/peering' solution, if people aren¹t in the same ISX." Some of the same insights that have shaped the AboveNet business model have influenced in differing ways, Frontier Global Center, GTE Internetworking, Exodus, and Savvis. Our article shows that AboveNet profits over the first two by never having been a telco and over the second pair by having greater depth and balance.

AboveNet obligates itself to deliver its customer¹s traffic to the rest of the Internet as well as to its other customers. AboveNet routes traffic as directly as possible through its own network ‹ either across the high speed links between its ISXs or via other parts of its infrastructure ‹ to get traffic from one customer to another, and from customers to the Internet, without delay and packet loss. This is the core of what AboveNet¹s calls its "one-hop network" - one where customers can connect globally.

With the opening of a London Data Center that is connected to the East coast by a trans Atlantic OC3 purchased from Global Crossing as a 25 year IRU. London customers may eventually find themselves one "network hop" from Europe to the US to Asia. High speed inter connections turn the Data Centers into something approaching a global exchange place that by year's end will likely terminate with the opening of a new center in Asia.

As far as routing and peering go then, one advantage of being an AboveNet customer is the ability to connect both at a data center exchange that is not congested and at one where peering with other locally connected AboveNet customers can be carried out at no extra cost. Another advantage is the assurance that customer traffic will get from San Jose, to Virginia, to New York to London without packet loss and with minimal latency.

The parts of AboveNet¹s backbone that do not directly connect AboveNet Data Centers to each other exist to accommodate its private interconnects with other Tier One providers. This infrastructure is provided by AboveNet to make sure it delivers the bits of its customers to other networks in a manner designed to produce minimal latency and packet loss.

As the largest backbones let connections to the MAEs and NAPs stagnate over the past three years, AboveNet has been able to replace their clogged infrastructure by means of a business model that aggregates ISPs and content providers at well provisioned data centers and then uses that aggregated bandwidth to leverage private interconnects with both large and small backbones and regional networks.

As a result, when analysts assumed that the giant telcos with their alleged economies of scale had locked up the top tier of the internet market globally, AboveNet emerges, in the words of Michael Dillon, "as a company that Œoffers a global IP network that is not simply an overlay of their telco business. (They are not a telco). They have a very strong IP engineering staff in control of the company. That is to say, the company¹s technical destiny is controlled by IP specialists, not ex-telco datacomm engineers. This means that AboveNet can avoid an awful lot of the mistakes that telco dominated backbone providers fall into." It looks as though AboveNet¹s achievement also means that a business model has been found to support a backbone infrastructure friendly to and cost effective for small to mid sized ISPs. With luck such an infrastructure looks able to provide enough traffic aggregation to counter balance the accumulation of market share in the hands of fewer and fewer giant players.

Parsing FCC's Reciprocal Comp Ruling

-- Telecom Attorneys and Policy Makers Attempt to Make Sense Out of FCC's Section 251 Ruling, pp. 12 - 16

When the FCC ruled on Reciprocal Compensation at the end of February, it was looking at the issue of whether, if a CLEC delivered a dial up internet access call to an ILEC, the ILEC needed to pay the CLEC a fee. The FCC had already ruled that such compensation could be applied only to local traffic. In this decision the FCC decided that dial-up calls were really not local but were in fact interstate. This ruling gave the FCC jurisdiction in the matter. When many people heard this they decided that the FCC was approving charges on such calls. The FCC pointed out that this was not true and added that it was just fine for states to have determined (or to determine in the future) that recip comp applies to dial-up calls to ISPs. Until Chairman Kennard stated that the FCC was not approving the imposition of long distance charges for internet access and emphasized that he was remaining faithful to political strictures that said do not regulate the Internet, many assumed that charges and regulation would be the outcome of the decision.

In a discussion on the cyber-telecom Kevin Wherbach offered the following analysis: There¹s a structural problem here: the FCC is good at analyzing trees, but sometimes the best answer is to step back and consider the forest. In this case, one tree is "don¹t regulate the Net" (because it¹s good politics, and because the Telecom Act says so). Another tree is "calls are either interstate or intrastate."

Most people in and around the Commission understand that the Net, competition, and convergence are eroding the traditional foundations of telecom regulation. In such times, one can try to muddle through by considering each case, on its specific facts, under the words of the governing statutes. In the reciprocal comp. case, that means making a binary jurisdictional choice under a circuit-switched paradigm, and then doing fancy footwork to (hopefully) avoid the consequences you don¹t like. The remainder of the article follows the arguments of the attorneys on the cyber telecom list as to the choices now facing the CLECs and ILECS. A recurrent theme of the discussion was the failure the continuing effort to find a growth pattern around which all could agree.

Country Code Wish List or ICANN Plans? pp. 16, 24

Very short article looks at some ICANN organizational charts hidden on the web site of an ally of Core, ISOC, WIPO and the treaty organs.

ICANN Implements Regulatory Model

-- IETF and IP Registries Wisely Ignore Roberts as Domain Names Forces Jockey for Position, pp. 17 - 22

We offer an assessment of the Singapore meeting which authorized the release of the ICANN criteria for registrars. Not surprising ICANN gave itself all the rights and the registrars none. Those wanting to be among the first five chosen to operate as registrars should think long and hard about playing by ICANN¹s rules. Why? Because if they accept these rules, they will likely find out that they may lose legal rights to sue in future for legal injury caused by them. The legal doctrine is "estoppel". In other words, when a new registrar accepts the benefits of ICANN-accreditation, it may be barred from later challenging restrictions on that accreditation, or even revocation, on the basis that it had willingly entered into the relationship without objecting to the terms and conditions imposed.

Currently the IETF is on the verge of abandoning the Protocol supporting Organization while the IP Registries have yet to be heard from. ICANN which is continuing to ignore the issue of whether or not it has the consent of the governed is likely to find one or more registries that it has blocked taking legal action against NTIA's authority to vest power in ICANN. We present a legal analysis of how DoC and NTIA could be sued in order to strip them of their ability to empower ICANN. The analysis, which finds that DoC has no statutory authority to do what it is doing, is written by an attorney with some considerable experience in the wars of internet governance.