Cogent Plans To File Complaint Against Comcast With FCC Over ISP Network Access

Now that the new Open Internet rules have been passed, Cogent plans to file a complaint with the FCC against Comcast regarding access to their network. I’m also hearing that Comcast won’t be the only ISP that Cogent plans to go after. The complaint can’t be filed until 60 days after the order goes into effect following publication in the Federal Register, which hasn’t happened yet 60 days after the law was passed, so the earliest we could see the complaint is the 26th of this month still a few months away. (Thanks to Larry Downes for noticing my error) I don’t know if the FCC will even make the complaint public, but in typical Cogent fashion, the company wants all of their access to the ISPs to be free, with as much capacity as they want. It’s the same sorry argument Cogent has been using for years and plans to argue about the ISP’s “monopoly” and “control” over the last mile.

When it comes to Cogent, you have to remember that this is a company that does not use common sense when it comes to their business practices. To date Cogent has had peering disputes with Level 3, Sprint, Deutsche Telekom AG, Teleglobe, AOL, France Telecom, TeliaSonera, Sprint-Nextel and others. Their argument is that they should not have to pay for access to an ISPs network and think they should be able to send any ISP as much traffic as they want, with no cost to Cogent of any kind.

I find it funny that the only ISP that has actually violated net-neutrality principles with prioritized traffic is the one complaining. And yes, Cogent is an ISP. Maybe not at the scale of a Comcast or Verizon, but Cogent offers access to the Internet as a service. Cogent thinks they should get access for free, but if I am a CDN or a non-peer of Cogent will Cogent give me free peering to reach their customers? Of course not. So why does Cogent expect the same from all other networks until the end of time? Because they don’t use any common sense or intelligence when it comes to this topic. They simply aren’t rational.

The bottom line is that interconnects and transit are competitive, paying for them is standard industry practice in the U.S. and this model has been working just fine for years, except for Cogent’s dispute history. Some folks are also telling me that Cogent has told them that ISPs are in violation of the new Open Internet rules, which of course is factually inaccurate. The Open Internet rules do not “regulate” interconnection agreements in any way, as of now. Of course, while the FCC applauds itself on forbearing from Title II price regulation, (which is a lie) it provides a backdoor way for it to control interconnect pricing if they wanted to.

The Open Internet order uses langauge that gives the FCC the right to hear interconnection complaints but the order “does not apply the Open Internet rules to interconnection.” The FCC says the “best approach is to watch, learn, and act as required, but not intervene now, especially not with prescriptive rules.” I don’t think the FCC will change their stance on this any time soon, since they have made it clear they don’t understand the interconnection market, but I’m sure Cogent is hoping to convince them otherwise.

At least Cogent’s argument never changes. They want it all for free, to improve their bottom line. Trying to disguise that argument as a violation of Open Internet rules is not only factually wrong, it’s just grandstanding on their part.