The Benefits of Network Peering

Original Post By Melissa Coen


The essence of the Internet is comprised of an expansive group of separate and autonomous net
works, with each network consisting of a common framework of globally unique IP addressing and global Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing.

Using this framework, any Internet user can connect with any other user, as though they were on the same network. And to use the greater global network, each user must either pay to be connected through a transit connection or they must peer with every other network in the global framework that is not paying for a transit.

What is Network Peering?

Network peering is when one internet network connects to another directly, enabling a faster throughput and exchange of information. No additional charges are incurred and no third-party network is required. The typical connection to the internet is called transit. With a transit connection, the end user or network operator pays another larger network operator to carry their network traffic for them.

To set up peering with another network, you need to negotiate an agreement with that network and work to set up the connection between the two. This setup can be created in a variety of ways.

Types of Peered Connections

To establish a peering connection with another network, the two networks need to be connected with one another in one of four ways.

Business Communication Duplicate model
Business Communication Duplicate model

1. Public Peering

Setting up public peering via an Internet exchange (IXP) or exchange points – using one or more Ethernet switches that are collocated. This option is the most popular and tends to be more efficient. The reason, in part, is that no additional cabling is required.

Some of the largest IXPs in the world may have hundreds of participants spanning many locations across a city.  Since public peering uses a single port, it sometimes provides less capacity than private peering; on the other hand, it does have the advantage of connecting a much larger number of networks.

2. Private Peering

Private peering, involves 2 networks with routers in the same building, and a direct point-to-point cable between them. This is an alternative to public peering. This setup is advantageous when a large quantity of data needs to be exchanged. Most of today’s private peering arrangements occur at colocation facilities independent of a particular carrier.  Private peering interconnections make up most of the traffic on the Internet, especially between the largest networks.

3. Partial Peering

Setting up partial or regional peering so that network traffic is only exchanged in one area of the globe.

4. Paid Peering

Paid peering (partial transit) entails arranging for one network to pay the other network to participate in the arrangement.

Peering Requirements

To establish peering, there are several items that are required.  First, you need to have a connection to an exchange point – possibly a router or metro Ethernet circuit that connects equipment in one facility to the exchange point switch. Second, you will have to pay the exchange operator for the switch port, pay for your space in the colocation facility, and pay for connectivity from the metro Ethernet provider. Third, someone has to manage your peering arrangement – and contact all networks involved to facilitate the setup. Finally, you will need to come up with a set of rules for peering which decide who you will peer with and what requirements need to be met for the potential arrangement.

Why Should You Set Up Network Peering?5-Unusual-Job-Networking-Strategies-that-Work

  • Lower Costs – It may save a local network money if it receives traffic from another peer instead of paying exclusively for its own bandwidth usage.
  • Greater Control – Peering keeps traffic local.  With a transit connection, data follows any path over the Internet, so if there is packet loss or latency, the network user is vulnerable to the downtime experienced by its transit provider.  On the other hand, a network user that is on a peered network has the ability to adjust their routing across different segments if slowdowns or issues occur.
  • Improved Network Performance – Traffic that is kept local can result in faster connections between the two peered networks.  Moreover, attempts can be made to use a direct path and bypass possible bottlenecks if they arise.
  • Increased Redundancy – Reducing dependence of one or more transit providers is an advantage of participating in network peering.
  • Larger Bandwidth Capacity – This allows for extremely large amounts of traffic to be distributed across many networks.
  • Better Network Ranking – The ability to show your network at a higher tier than others, and therefore improve its perception across the Internet.
  • Access to Extra Support – Peering with other networks gives you access to a greater pool of support resources in the event of a disaster or other outage.
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