17 Aug

BSNL AS9829 – A rotten IP backbone

Today I met a good friend and he has recently moved back into Rohtak (like me!) and was crying over BSNL’s issues. He has issues of unstable DSL due to last mile and I told him that even if last mile works well, BSNL still has got ton of issues with their IP backbone traffic.


It’s Sunday late night out here in India and I am having really pathetic connectivity with just everywhere except Google. With Google only key difference I noted is that my TCP session to Google’s services is terminating at Mumbai and not Delhi anymore.

First and formost, I did trace to spectranet.in (which is last company I was working for) to see how is my latency with server hosting it:

Clearly this seems to be going via NIXI but as soon as I hit NIXI IP (configured at destination network), the latency jumps up. This clearly is a symbol of bad return path. Since I do not have access to AS10029 network anymore and no one from my ex-colleagues would be awake at this time, I cannot see return trace easily.

I tried looking for my IP (coming via DHCP) is from orignated by BSNL AS9829. Let’s look for this IP at NIXI:


Clearly BSNL isn’t announcing this IP at all at any of NIXI’s. This is bad and becomes “worst” because BSNL doesn’t peers with any of other networks except Google. It just buys transit from Tata, Airtel etc inside India and that’s pretty much it.

Let’s look at who BSNL is announcing this route at Oregon route views:

We can see AS6453 which is Tata Comm’s International ASN and AS6762 which is AS6762 (Telecom Italia).

Some interesting facts:
  1. BSNL isn’t peering with any networks in India except Google (as far as I can see). This includes no large content networks or even large telcos. Yes, it does has local Akamai nodes but that’s pretty much it.
  2. BSNL is currently announcing very limited prefixes at all NIXI’s and my IP coming from doesn’t seem to be announced at any of NIXI’s at all.
  3. BSNL is announcing just to AS6453 Tata and AS6762 – Telecom Itlaia.
  4. Tata Communications usually does not sell any Indian capacity / Indian routing table via AS6453 and so AS6453 is used for buying transit outside India while AS4755 (VSNL) is used for domestic transit.
  5. Telecom Italia transit also is one BSNL buying outside and transporting over to India.


There’s nothing wrong in #4th and #5th but IP backbone design with a combination of all above is quite bad and leads to very degraded experience. As of now all non-Google traffic is getting routed to BSNL from outside India ! 

This includes traffic from India as well. So yes, India to India traffic is getting routed from outside India. Here are some traces to show that:

Trace from my friend’s ISP in Gujarat taking upstream from Tata:



So clearly packets are getting routed from Gujarat to Haryana via New York!


Let’s look at trace from Airtel’s PoP in New Delhi and Mumbai via their looking glass:



trace from Airtel Mumbai to BSNL Haryana

Clearly traffic coming from outside.



Some of fixes for this issue:
  1. BSNL keeps announcing routes at NIXI.
  2. BSNL keeps announcing routes to domestic transit and not just an International one.
  3. A better and open IXP model in India which removes the burden of “x-y” pricing as followed by NIXI on a inbound heavy network like that of BSNL.
  4. Likely BSNL is having capacity issues at NIXI Noida since NIXI just moved off to new location and BSNL is still working to build out transport to that. Even if that works, the trouble would be still with Western India / Southern India etc.


I have pretty much lost all hopes with BSNL that it will ever work. With hope that my new leased line circuit would be ready in upcoming days, time for me to get some sleep and get prepared for another day of high latency internet!


Disclaimer: This blog post (and blog as whole) is in my personal capacity and has nothing to do with my employer. It does not necessarily reflect views of my employer. And to be true this blog post is mine post as a frustrated customer of BSNL!

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