10 Sep

NIXI permits content players!

I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand for APNIC 48 conference. Earlier today attended APIX meeting where many IX members from Asian community gave an update including NIXI i.e National Internet Exchange of India.

As per the update NIXI now allows content players to peer at the exchange. NIXI earlier had a strict requirement of telecom license for anyone to peer but as of now it allows anyone with IP address and AS number to be part of the exchange just like all other exchanges. This is a really good development coming this year after their announcement of the removal of x-y charge. One strange thing remains that their website is still not updated to reflect that which is probably just work in progress. As per representative from NIXI they now openly welcome all content players to peer at NIXI.

What more needs to be done?

Well, a couple more changes are needed.
Here’s what I requested to the representative from NIXI:

  1. Removal of forced multi-lateral peering policy. Forced multilateral is bad idea in modern times. Many large networks (especially the ones dealing with anycast based service) would usually not like to peer at route server.
  2. So far NIXI has discouraged bilateral BGP sessions in the policy. Technically any members can create bilateral sessions but were denied in the policy. That needs to be changed. Bilateral/multilateral peering is a technical decision and should be left to individual networks operators.
  3. NIXI needs to migrate to software-based route servers like bird with auto-config generation to include features like IRR filtering, RPKI filtering, BGP communities support and much more.

Remove forced multilateral, but what about Indian incumbents?

This is an old interesting discussion. Basically due to “forced” multilateral peering policy – everyone is on route servers and that includes incumbents like Tata Communications, Airtel, BSNL and other large networks like Jio and Voda/IDEA as well. The argument there is if multi-lateral peering is not forced, local ISPs won’t be able to peer with these networks. Part of these arguments comes from a mindset which still believes the world’s traffic flows from tier 1 operators to tier 2 and tier 3. A very large part of modern internet traffic flows from content players to eyeball networks (where “eye balls” are). Content players deliver this traffic through a mix of backbone + peering as well as by putting caching nodes inside the ISPs network (like Google’s GGC, Facebook’s FNA, Netflix OCA, Akamai caching node etc). The success of an IX depends on meeting the content players and eyeball players. To connect eyeball players (which are usually spread across the region) one needs circuits i.e dark fibre, DWDM waves, or any sort of transport network. As long as these three things are in place, IX can be a success.

Look at any large IX doing over few hundred Gigabits of traffic or even terabit of traffic and ask does local incumbent telco peers openly at that IX? Does BT openly peers at LINX in London? Do Deutsche Telekom peers openly at DECIX Frankfurt? Does AT&T, Verizon, Comcast peer openly at various Equinix and Coresite exchanges spread across the US? Answer to most of these is no and that is just fine. I would personally hope that these networks do but if they do not it’s not something which blocks the development. In the same way, having Airtel/Tata/Jio/Voda-IDEA at NIXI is great and I would hope they stay but the success of NIXI does not depend on these. As long as transport circuits are available (which they are!) from enough players with competition it would be fine. As of now across India, one can take transport circuit from Airtel, Tata, Voda/IDEA, Powergrid. Railtel, Reliance Communications and more!

Forced multilateral and routing issues…

One recent issue which E2E Networks (a cloud provider based in India) faced was to send traffic to Jio. Suddenly traffic going from E2E to Jio via Tata Comm was going from outside India. As per discussions, routing was tweaked to send traffic out to Jio via Airtel and still, there were issues of routing from outside India. The issue went on for a couple of days and was eventually fixed by speaking to both ends. Issue was there due to ongoing peering issues between Jio – Tata Comm and Jio – Airtel.

Now the funny thing here is that Netmagic (which takes care of routing for E2E) connects to NIXI and Jio also connects to NIXI. During this entire time, both Netmagic (on behalf of E2E) and Jio had enough capacity at NIXI but that could not be utilised because of forced multilateral peering policy. If routes were announced to NIXI route server, that would have probably fixed the Jio issue but would also attract traffic from Airtel/Tata which was not specifically desired due to their known port capacity issues at NIXI.

Ending this post with my quote which I often give in these discussions – “Remember somewhere up the transit path there’s always peering!” 🙂

Disclaimer:

  1. This post is done in my personal capacity and nowhere reflect the views of my employer.
  2. I am on board of the mentioned organisation E2E Networks (more on it here)

23 Dec

End of inter-circle roaming: Good or Bad move?

 

Today I read in news about Govt’s decision to finally end inter-circle roaming agreements between Airtel, Vodafone & IDEA.

Well, the case is not new. It has been up with doT from over months and got highlights when CEO’s of all 3 firms wrote letter to Prime Minister of India for his intervention.

 

Little background

In 3G auction held in 2010, none of the operators got pan India spectrum across 22 telecom circles. Most of them have license in around 10 circles (few in 9, few in 11 and so on) and thus no one can provide full Nationwide 3G coverage.

Why did that happened?

Well, it was already expected well before auctions as Govt. gave only 20Mhz of spectrum in 2100 band in most of circles. It was decided that each player will get just 5Mhz, which brings number of 3G operators per circle to just 4. In all circles one slot was reserved for BSNL & MTNL (infact they were allocated spectrum back in 2008) and hence in most of circles there was scope of just 3 more operators. This was a problem as we do have more then 3 mobile operators at pan India level and which are big and doing pretty good business. Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Reliance, Vodafone, IDEA, Aircel, and few other small operators. Hence it resulted in cases like Airtel getting spectrum in Delhi, while IDEA missing in Delhi and going in for Haryana, where we find Airtel missing. (Here’s detailed circle wise allocation)

 

Few months back , Airtel, Vodafone and IDEA eventually got in an agreement for inter-circle roaming. It was a situation where a user say of Airtel Haryana (where Airtel has no 3G spectrum) will use IDEA’s 3G network and will have seamless experience and no roaming or any extra cost.

 

Inter-circle roaming agreement: loss to Govt?

One of big controversies here is claim from Govt. that Inter-Circle roaming agreement was huge loss to Govt as operators who have not paid for a specific circle are offering service in that circle. Thus Airtel giving 3G in Haryana is like Rs 300 crore ($60million) loss to Govt. and same applied on IDEA giving 3G in Delhi – loss of $600million to Govt.

Is that true? Well, I am not a lawyer, nor I have read 3G agreement carefully from legal eyes to find if such sharing is permitted or not but from common technical sense I can say that’s just a bad judgement from Govt’s end.

 

Why bad judgement…

  • Less spectrum was auctioned initially (that too after years of delay) and operators had no choice but to go for just few circles. (mistake from Govt. end)
  • Broadband still suffers badly in India due to very poor policies of Govt. ranging from very poor management of BSNL to poor niXi tariff policies. We stand no where in top 50 list in terms of broadband speed and penetration. Checkout NSN’s Connectivity Score Card on India.
  • Since operators had limited spectrum, capacity is always limited.  Thus if Airtel is sharing 5Mhz with IDEA, it is still 5Mhz in total. Hence Airtel is probably not making an undue gain from the deal. Airtel has not paid to Govt. for Haryana circle but in a sense paying to IDEA for the same. They are not getting things for free!
  • All operators all already feeling hard on cash and another auction doesn’t makes sense + they are still investing a lot in building new network which is used by just a few users. Such sharing would have boosted up  usage significantly.

 

Well, based on above points, I don’t see any sense in not permitting such agreement. If it was illegal, then may be a policy should have been re-considered rather then causing another road block for broadband in India. What else Govt. of India expects from telecom players after getting $15billion in 3G auction that too just for 5Mhz block.

It is again one of decisions where I see Govt. to be less responsive towards pain of poor broadband in India and more concerned about making money from telcos which in-turn is passed on to end users of India.

 

With hope that India will have better broadband soon, Good Night! 🙂

 

26 Nov

Poor DNS setup from Idea ISP

DNS Lesson time!

Today, I was just looking into website – ideaisp.net

This site is overall pretty interesting as it’s showing various upstream links of IDEA Cellular ISP backbone. Seems like they are just using Cable & Wireless for most of International bandwidth although IDEA ISP is not functional yet.

 

Anyways, this post is not about their geeky upstream peers & routing tables but how bad one can setup DNS! 🙂

Looking at DNS servers of domain name ideaisp.net
Check from whois:

   Domain Name: IDEAISP.NET
   Registrar: NET 4 INDIA LIMITED
   Whois Server: whois.net4domains.com
   Referral URL: http://www.net4.in
 Name Server: NS1.IDEAISP.NET Name Server: NS2.IDEAISP.NET
   Status: ok
   Updated Date: 24-jun-2011
   Creation Date: 06-jun-2011
   Expiration Date: 06-jun-2012

All seem pretty much normal but next, check from normal dig (which digs DNS servers):

 

root@server7:~# dig ideaisp.net ns

; <<>> DiG 9.7.1-P2 <<>> ideaisp.net ns
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 26015
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;ideaisp.net.                   IN      NS

;; ANSWER SECTION:
ideaisp.net.            3317    IN      NS      isp-mum-dns1.

;; Query time: 11 msec
;; SERVER: 8.8.4.4#53(8.8.4.4)
;; WHEN: Sat Nov 26 20:48:44 2011
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 55

Only one nameservers and that too isp-mum-dns1. huh?!!
Since I had (very) bad day, I decided to dig further into it to keep myself busy.

 

Here’s the SOA zone file:

 ;; QUESTION SECTION:
 ;ideaisp.net. IN SOA
 ;; ANSWER SECTION:
 ideaisp.net. 3600 IN SOA isp-mum-dns1. hostmaster. 5 900 600 86400 3600

Again – clearly wrong nameserver in SOA too.

 

So how exactly website is working? What’s really wrong?

 

Digging further into two nameservers ns1.ideaisp.net and ns2.ideaisp.net (as shown from whois), here’s what we see:

 

root@server7:~# dig @ns1.ideaisp.net ideaisp.net ns
; <<>> DiG 9.7.1-P2 <<>> @ns1.ideaisp.net ideaisp.net ns
 ; (1 server found)
 ;; global options: +cmd
 ;; Got answer:
 ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 60975
 ;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; QUESTION SECTION:
 ;ideaisp.net. IN NS
;; ANSWER SECTION:
 ideaisp.net. 3600 IN NS isp-mum-dns1.
;; Query time: 127 msec
 ;; SERVER: 223.196.3.235#53(223.196.3.235)
 ;; WHEN: Sat Nov 26 20:57:29 2011
 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 55
root@server7:~# dig @ns2.ideaisp.net ideaisp.net ns
; <<>> DiG 9.7.1-P2 <<>> @ns2.ideaisp.net ideaisp.net ns
 ; (1 server found)
 ;; global options: +cmd
 ;; Got answer:
 ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 20103
 ;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; QUESTION SECTION:
 ;ideaisp.net. IN NS
;; ANSWER SECTION:
 ideaisp.net. 3600 IN NS isp-mum-dns1.
;; Query time: 127 msec
 ;; SERVER: 223.196.3.236#53(223.196.3.236)
 ;; WHEN: Sat Nov 26 20:57:35 2011
 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 55

Clearly there’s no mismatch in records on both servers.

 

Here’s what’s wrong:

  1. Wrong nameserver – rather then isp-mum-dns1. it should be ns1.ideaisp.net
  2. Missing secondary nameservers – ns2.ideaisp.net “NS record” is missing from zone delegation
Let’s hope someone @ IdeaCellular might read this post and considers fixing these issues.
Thanks for reading, have good day ahead!
 
 
 
 

***Updates***

 
Based on recent commentfrom Mr Sumit Menaria, from IDEA Cellular – this issue has been fixed.

Quick check to verify:

 
DNS servers at root: 

Domain Name: IDEAISP.NET
Registrar: NET 4 INDIA LIMITED
Whois Server: whois.net4domains.com
Referral URL: http://www.net4.in 
Name Server: NS1.IDEAISP.NET
Name Server: NS2.IDEAISP.NET
Status: ok
Updated Date: 04-may-2012
Creation Date: 06-jun-2011
Expiration Date: 06-jun-2012

 

 

Next, checking each of them for NS records:

anurag@laptop ~ $ dig ideaisp.net @NS1.IDEAISP.NET ns +short
ns1.ideaisp.net.
ns2.ideaisp.net.

anurag@laptop ~ $ dig ideaisp.net @NS2.IDEAISP.NET ns +short
ns2.ideaisp.net.
ns1.ideaisp.net.

 
 
Looks good. Verifying SOA and finally A record: 

anurag@laptop ~ $ dig ideaisp.net @NS1.IDEAISP.NET soa +short
ns1.ideaisp.net. hostmaster. 8 900 600 86400 3600

anurag@laptop ~ $ dig ideaisp.net @NS2.IDEAISP.NET soa +short
isp-mum-dns2. hostmaster. 8 900 600 86400 3600

anurag@laptop ~ $ dig ideaisp.net @NS1.IDEAISP.NET a +short
223.196.3.234

anurag@laptop ~ $ dig ideaisp.net @NS2.IDEAISP.NET a +short
223.196.3.234

 
All looks good and well. Good job Mr Sumit! 🙂