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Cogent names names in its ongoing interconnection squabbles

Cogent Communications Thursday named names and waved a big legal stick in its ongoing negotiations with three Internet service providers over congested interconnection ports.

Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer told investors that less than 5 percent of its total traffic is subject to congestion at interconnection points with three ISPs —Time Warner Cable, Deutsche Telekom and Century Link.

An ardent supporter of the FCC open Internet order, Cogent spent $5.4 million dollars in legal fees in 2014 advocating interconnection rules that compel the unimpeded flow of traffic between transit companies and Internet service providers. And the company isn’t afraid to spend more.

“The vast majority of the million dollars we spent on legal fees in the [second] quarter was spent on preparing for litigation against several parties and sharing with them some of the work we’ve done and the nature of the litigation. Not in a threatening way, but just showing that we are serious about this and we expect that all players to abide by the law,” said Schaeffer.

“Now we are still in discussion with the parties and its kind of like you don’t want throw gas on the fire and go to court if you are still having productive discussion, but it doesn’t appear that these other parties really embrace the open internet principles…. So it is possible that we may have to actually file and the good news is we spent most of the money to be ready to do that,” said Schaeffer.

Cogent recently signed interconnection agreements with AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, the three ISPs that accounted for the biggest part of its congested traffic in the run up to the open Internet rules that went into effect June 12.

Since then, Cogent said that Comcast has been opening up new interconnection points.

“What we saw was a rapid rate of port augmentation by Comcast throughout the second quarter and it was only at the end of the quarter that we saw ports running at full capacity,” Schaeffer said.  “Now we met with Comcast, we provided our forecasts and there are additional ports being turned up in this quarter. At this point, there are sufficient ports that there is no congestion,” said Schaeffer.

AT&T and Verizon have also been cooperative and rapidly turning up their ports in the third quarter, but at present the ports still remain congested and there are more ports in queue to be turned up, Cogent said.

“We hope that by the end of the third quarter, we will be in the same position [with AT&T and Verizon] that we are currently with Comcast.  More ports and no congestion and a road map for additional ports in  subsequent quarters,” said Schaeffer.

Schaeffer also praised the peering policies of Charter Communications, one of its customers.  Charter promised regulators that it will interconnect its IP network at no charge with content providers who provide a certain level of traffic. Interconnection and any subsequent capacity increases for the exchange of traffic would be at no charge to either party. Under its new policy, each party would agree to maintain sufficient capacity to support Charter customer-initiated Internet sessions.

Cogent’s support of the FCC’s open Internet order is directly related to its bottom line. The company said that its improved performance was due in part to the surge in traffic that was a direct result of having more interconnection ports available to it. The company also credited the increase in video over-the-top traffic as another driver of growth.