24 Sep

BSNL-Level3 bad routing case

Quick analysis of BSNL-Level3 bad routing issue


I can see BSNL having pretty high latency again with most of Europe again. It seems like they are using Level3 Communications AS 3356 along with Tata-VSNL for upstream. With Level3 transit BSNL has badly screwed up reverse path causing very high latency and awful bandwidth.


Expected latency values here should be around 150ms. A packet should not take more then 150ms round trip between Radaur, Haryana to Munich located server.


Quick view at traceroute:

Clearly hop 3 is New Delhi (30ms latency), hop 4 is Mumbai (again as per latency values). Hop 5 is London Level3. Seems like BSNL used Europe-India gateway link here (a submarine cable from Mumbai to London owned by multiple providers including BSNL and Bharti Airtel along with Global Crossing which is now owned by Level3). Also, as far as I know Level3 does not has a ISP license in India (doT’s list here) and thus they cannot sell bandwidth at Mumbai. Likely BSNL is using its own ILD license in this case and thus BSNL is responsible for purchase of bandwidth in London.

Thus, as per that traceroute and fact that BSNL is one who is purchasing transit from Level3 in London, BSNL should be having BGP session in London and should be exchanging it’s routing table in turn for global routing table provided by transit. While latency jumps as soon as we hit London as per that traceroute. Clearing BSNL > Level3 path seems OK while return path on Level3 > BSNL is faulty. 


Using Level3’s looking glass, we can have a quick check on traceroute to my IP:


Hop3 – Level3, hop4 is Gblx (which is now owned by Level3), hop 5 is Gblx New York and hop 6 is BSNL router in New York. The target BSNL ip is coming from Now interesting thing here is BSNL uses Level3 + Gblx both for transit. So return path via Gblx is not an issue but the path London > New York > India is surely an issue.


Looking for prefix in Level3 London router:

Only two paths that too via Gblx. No direct return path. Again, it is not big issue since Gblx could have a return path right within London (or somewhere else in Europe).


Let’s check Gblx Europe router for entry for


 Just one path. Doing a traceroute to see the actual path (since I don’t know where that next hop is located!) 🙂



Clearly here’s the issue. BSNL again is doing selective BGP announcement of prefixes at New York only and that is why Europe to India traffic is being routed via New York. BSNL is allowing entry path into it’s network from outside India only at New York and few other selected locations which causes serious damage to latency.


Time for me to get back on work of routing packets! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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