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Tactic 1. The Extended Direct Approach

Chapter 11 – The ISP Peering Playbook

This chapter presents twenty-seven “tricks of the trade” used by some of the most seasoned peering coordinators in the world. These tactics range from the practical to the clever – and even into the unethical. While these maneuvers are not necessarily recommended, they are described in order to exercise the lexicon and illustrate the types of manipulations that occur in the Internet Peering Ecosystems around the world. You should understand and be able to recognize each of these tactics.


Sometimes peering is requested and agreed to straight away.

But what happens when a peering coordinator sends a peering request that results in a “No” answer? Or, more commonly, what happens when a peering request doesn’t get a response? Do peering coordinators just give up and go on to the next peering target?

As it turns out, the answer is no, seasoned peering coordinators don’t give up; they have their own “tricks of the trade” for obtaining peering where they otherwise might not have been able to.

This chapter enumerates these tactics. Most of these tactics have been used to obtain peering where they otherwise would not be able to. A handful of additional ones are primarily defensive in nature, intended to defend a power position in a region.

The Graphical Representation of the Plays

To describe each tactic we will apply the graphical notation employed throughout this book to highlight the relevant characteristics of the players and their actions.


The Players

Every play in the playbook has at least two players. The initiator ISP (the one who seeks peering) we will call “ISP A,” and the target of the peering we will call “ISP B.”

Throughout this chapter we will show the initiator as a cloud labeled “A” and the target ISP will always be a cloud labeled “B” (Figure 11-1).


Figure 11-1. The initiator and the target of the peering tactic.

If the play involves specific roles within the initiator or the target organization, we will show that role in subscript. For example, in Figure 11-2 we show that we are involving the Peering coordinators for ISP A and ISP B.


Figure 11-2. The peering coordinator roles are specified with this notation.

Route Announcements

Routing announcements are the mechanism for propagating reachability information between networks, and we use the color and/or the name of the network to graphically (Figure 11-3) represent these announcements.

Note that the solid black marker in the routing announcement indicates a default route, the route that can be used to reach any destination in the Internet.


Figure 11-3. Internet Peering, Paid Peering, Internet Transit graphical notation.

The ISP Customers

The customers of the initiator and the customers of the target are shown as smaller clouds attached to the ISPs as shown in Figure 11-4.

The “T” marking on the interconnection indicates that this relationship is a customer relationship, and the “$” indicates which side is getting paid. If the “$” is absent, it is assumed that the network that is higher in the diagram is the upstream ISP receiving the compensation for the transit relationship.


Figure 11-4. ISP Customers.

Interconnection Relationships

ISPs can have transit relationships with other ISPs. Figure 11-5 shows a few equivalent graphical notations for transit relationships.

A “P” is used to denote an established peering relationship. The diagrams in Figure 11-6 show three notations for a peering relationship. The first two are equivalent notations of free peering relationships and the last is a Paid Peering notation.

Figure 11-5. Equivalent Internet Transit notations.

peering sessions


Figure 11-6. Graphical notation of peering relationships.

Traffic Flow Notations

To demonstrate traffic traversing an interconnection, we use a directed line as shown in Figure 11-7. The directed line is colored to represent traffic destined to a particular ISP. For example, traffic destined to a purple ISP C is shown as a directed purple arrow. If packet loss is relevant to a particular tactic, it is denoted as a dashed line. If the traffic destination is not relevant, the color black is used. The thickness of the line represents the amount of traffic.

traffic flow

Figure 11-7. Traffic flow notations.

The Internet Service Provider Peering Playbook

To make it into the ISP Peering Playbook chapter, the tactic had to have been effective in:

This litmus test has been applied to each of these tactics.

We neither endorse nor condone any of these tactics; we are simply documenting them for the benefit of the community. If you are involved in peering on the Internet, then you should be aware of these maneuvers.

  1. The Extended Direct Approach
  2. Internet Transit with Peering Migration
  3. The End-Run Maneuver
  4. Bundle Internet Transit with Peering
  5. Buy Transit from the most Restrictive Tier 1 ISP
  6. Transitional Paid Peering
  7. Partial-Route Internet Transit
  8. Play Chicken
  9. Traffic Manipulation
  10. Bluff Issues
  11. Be Open. Loudly.
  12. Be Everywhere
  13. Get Traffic
  14. Friendship-based Peering
  15. Spam Peering Requests
  16. The Honey Approach - Be Sweet
  17. Purchase a well-peered ISP
  18. Bait-n-Switch
  19. False Peering Outage
  20. Leverage Broader Business Arrangement
  21. Overseas Power Play
  22. Construct Peering from Transit
  23. Defensive Tactic - Do Not Peer in Your Home Market
  24. Defensive Tactic - Protect Peering Policy
  25. Change and Escalate Peering Prerequisites
  26. MILD Defensive Tactic
  27. Congest Transit Pipes


Notes from the field.

ISPs Calling Playbook Tactics By Number

I was introduced to the VP of Internet Operations for a large European ISP who shared that the ISP’s engineering teams were so well versed with these tactics that they referred to them by number. As in, “Good morning, Geoff. We had another 19 (False NOC Outage) last night!”


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Tactic 1 - The Extended Direct Approach

This material is from The Internet Peering Playbook, available from (click below) and on the iBookStore.

This material is from The Internet Peering Playbook, available from (click below) and on the iBookStore.