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Level 3, Cogent Partners Shocked By Internet Disruption

Level 3 Communications said it warned Cogent Communications before pulling the plug on parts of the Internet last Thursday. But not everyone received an alert.

Partners of the two Internet communication companies said they and their customers were taken completely by surprise when Level 3 cut off the free peering connection between it and Cogent, which severed access to tens of millions of IP addresses. Peering is a common practice that Internet backbones such as Level 3 and Cogent use to give customers the simplest access to all of the Internet.

Level 3 has temporarily restored the peering connection, though it remains in a heated spat with Cogent over shared bandwidth usage.

Tim Bradley, senior vice president of VoIP at New Global Telecom, a Level 3 master agent in Golden, Colo., said the sudden shutdown of major parts of the Internet caught him and his customers off-guard. "We were given no prior warning. We learned about it from a sudden burst of sporadic customer calls," he said.

The lack of advance notice about the shutdown from Level 3 didn’t please Bradley. Customers calling New Global Telecom about the service interruption expected the company to know what was going on, and customer service staff had to scramble to stay on top of things, he noted. "We very calmly and very coolly took care of everyone," he said.

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