Recent developments in the wholesale market for internet interconnection are set to boost competition in the supply of services to government and corporate customers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) expects to see increased competition in the supply of internet connectivity and hosted services which would lead to better online experience for end users.
Optus, Telstra and TPG have all revealed the criteria on which they will consider peering with other internet services providers (ISP) in order to interconnect with them.
Peering arrangements are agreements between ISPs to physically connect to other networks in order to exchange internet traffic, often without payment being exchanged.
The big telcos have had such agreements with one another for quite some time but other ISPs have had limited visibility over the criteria these large providers apply in determining whether or not to enter into a peering agreement.
Telstra, for example, takes into consideration things such as infrastructure, traffic and capacity, and general routing.
One of Telstra's considerations is that a peering partner should have the ability to peer with the telco in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Telstra assesses the likely traffic flows between it and a potential peering partner, and takes a number of factors into consideration when doing so, including internet points of interconnect with Telstra, which require an operating peering connection with Telstra at a minimum bandwidth of 10 gigabits per second of bilateral capacity.
The peering partner should interconnect using both internet protocol version 4 (“IPv4”) and internet protocol version 6 (“IPv6”) in parallel.
"We welcome the ACCC’s decision to conclude its review of internet interconnection," a Telstra spokesperson said.
"The decision takes account of recent market developments in internet interconnection arrangements, as well as the publication of peering guidelines by Telstra, TPG and Optus, which was recommended by the ACCC in its Communication Sector Market Study."
Optus will interconnect with ISPs that are of similar size and geographic scope, and also where Optus and the provider requesting IP interconnection have roughly an equal exchange of traffic between their respective autonomous systems.
Optus also requests the ISP's network has coverage of all five Australian states and offer capacity of at least 100Gbps, among other criteria.
TPG's criteria states that the overarching consideration is whether or not there are roughly equivalent network or operational benefits that each party will mutually derive by entering into a Peering Arrangement.
Each network of a party to a Peering Arrangement should operate a fully redundant and diverse path network, capable of handling simultaneous single-node outages in each network without significantly affecting the performance of the traffic being exchanged, TPG states as one of its guidelines.
According to the ACCC, a peering agreement has been signed between Telstra and Vocus.
“We welcome the recent agreement between Telstra and Vocus to enter into a peering arrangement,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“Gaining peering with other networks enables carriers to provide more competitive wholesale ‘transit’ services to other ISPs, which should have positive impacts in downstream markets including the corporate internet market.”
Optus, Telstra and TPG also offer paid internet interconnection services known as transit to other providers that enable them to gain full connectivity to the wider internet.
“It is important that the big ISPs in particular publicise and apply their criteria in good faith so that other providers have a transparent pathway to peering status as they attain additional scale with the rollout of the NBN and other next generation fixed and mobile networks,” Sims added.