Accessing information and interactive resources available around the globe via the Internet is a pretty simple task. In a carefree Internet world, the dynamics of connecting to resources are transparent, and we expect resources we want to access are available through our local Internet service provider. Technical details of connecting to Internet resources are an abstract concept for most, and whatever mechanics happen behind the scenes are not relevant to our everyday use of the network.
Because the Internet is made up of a complex matrix of physical, business and international relationships, how these systems interact and collaborate is actually very important to the end user, as well as to those providing Internet services and content. Of the greatest concern impacting online resources from eBay to the Bank of America is the potential financial pressure brought on by the largest Tier 1 networks. As the only networks in the world having global Internet visibility, these few companies, including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Level 3, and Cable and Wireless, facilitate access to the global Internet – a function which people and companies worldwide depend on to ensure small networks and content providers are available through their local service providers Free Trial.
The Tier 1 world was born at the demise of NSFNet (National Science Foundation Network). In the early days of Internet development, the NSF supported development of a large publicly funded academic and research network throughout the United States, and connecting many foreign academic networks to the US as a hub through the International Connections Manager (ICM Network). As commercial Internet development grew in the early 1990s, the NSF realized it was time to back away from publicly funding the “Internet” and grant contracts to large US carriers to take over responsibility for the former US Domestic backbone and ICM portions of the NSFNet.
Small Internet exchange points (IXPs) were also funded, allowing the large networks taking over NSFNet assets, as well as their own commercial Internets to connect and share Internet traffic. Those network access points (NAPs) were also contracted to the large US carriers, who managed policies for US and International network exchange. The large US carriers ultimately had control of the networks, and were the original Tier 1 Internet providers.
Roadblocks in the Internet Community
Debates around net neutrality highlight some underlying issues. The goal of net neutrality is to preserve the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet. But whether the largest networks use their control to hinder growth and innovation within the Internet-connect business community or impede free access to Internet-connected content sources, they have the power and control which could present challenges to an open Internet environment.
A Tier 1 network, for example, has the power to charge a major content delivery network (CDN) a premium to access its network. This is because the CDN may deliver a very large amount of content traffic into a network, and the Tier 1 network believes they should receive additional compensation to fund additional capacity needed to support content distribution. This premium may be more money than the CDN is willing or able to pay. In turn, if the CDN doesn’t comply, the Tier 1 can ultimately refuse the CDN access to its network and cut its consumers access to the CDN’s content. This applies whether consumers access the Tier 1 directly or if the Tier 1 is the middle-network between consumers and their Tier 2 or 3 networks.
A voice over Internet Protocol Company underscores another potential conflict of interest. Let’s say you’re a consumer of a Tier 1 network that’s also a telephone company and you want to use a VoIP company, such as Vonage. But the Tier 1 doesn’t want the VoIP company to compete with its network and would rather that you use its own telephone product, so the Tier 1 may prevent you from using your VoIP company. In other words, a Tier 1, in developing its own commercial VoIP product, can prevent non-owned VoIP traffic from passing through its network.
While Tier 1 networks hold value for much of the Internet world, they also impose many political and financial barriers on smaller networks, content delivery networks, emerging VoIP companies, online gaming businesses, B2B and online commerce, and entertainment web sites. It is evident that Internet Service Providers (ISPs), CDNs, VoIPs, and many others need an alternative method of communicating with each other – one providing tools to redesign how relationships and interconnections bond the US Internet content and access communities.