Digital West Blog

What is network peering and why would you want it?

Posted by Meg McCall on 7/20/15 11:33 AM

Digital West isn’t “reselling” the Internet, we are the Internet, and because of this we’re able to peer directly with large content providers. Peering is simply the exchange of traffic between two Internet networks. It allows us to directly hand off traffic between our customers and another network’s customers without having to involve a third party to carry that traffic across the Internet for us. Peering is different than IP transit, which is the more common way of connecting to the Internet. In transit, one network operator pays another network operator (usually a larger one like AT&T) to carry their traffic.

Peering_DiagramIn addition to managing our own pure fiber network, Digital West has direct fiber connections to both Equinix SV1 in San Jose and CoreSite at One Wilshire in Los Angeles. When you colocate with Digital West or use our cloud services, you gain direct point-to-point access to dozens of the world’s largest content providers, including Netflix, Google, Microsoft and Akamai. These peering relationships translate into faster speeds and easier troubleshooting.

Advantages of Peering

  • It’s generally less expensive to directly connect to another network rather than paying a third party (provided the infrastructure is in place).

  • Because we own the network, we have greater control over traffic flow. We can easily adjust routing to avoid problems along network segments.

  • It keeps traffic local, improving performance. There are less potential points of “breakage” than traffic that flows over multiple networks.

  • Faster connections. Just for fun, you can run a trace route to identify how few hops it takes for Digital West to connect you to a resource. The average service provider will require 12-19 hops; because of our peering connections, we average about 8 hops. 

  • Faster problem resolution. Again, because we own the network, we can troubleshoot and resolve problems quickly, rather than having to wait for other carriers to identify and fix the problem.

Types of Peering

There are several types of peering. One involves running a circuit from the network facility (i.e., the Digital West data center) directly to another network. A second is public peering, which is when several networks come into a single colocation facility and use an Internet exchange -- an Ethernet switch or set of switches -- to peer with the other networks connected through the facility. Private peering combines these two approaches by putting routers in the colocation facility and running a direct cable between them rather than via the exchange switches. Digital West offers all of these peering options. Contact us if you'd like to learn more. 

Topics: Managed Network Services