Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My organisation is in a position where we are paying quite excessive charges for single homed IP transit form our primary data centre provider. We're at the position now where we're ready to start thinking about switching to direct relationships with transit providers.

The question here goes touches on the subject slightly, but it's not very comprehensive. For example the accepted answer states Cogent and Hurricane Electric are considered cheap providers, whereas Level(3), AT&T, Telia are considered to be better. What it doesn't do is explain exactly why one provider may be better than another.

I am quite familiar with BGP, multihoming and the concept of peering and transit, however what I don't have is an understanding of why some of these providers would be better than others.

To be clear, I'm not asking for a suggestion for a provider, or any names mentioned for that matter. I'm more than happy to go off and do my own "shopping" research. I just have the problem that I need to compare apples to apples, and I don't know what to look for!

If it makes a difference, our organisation is in the UK.

share|improve this question
Except @t1nt1n this time I'm been very clear it's not a shopping question. I'm looking for tech answers to a problem! That's what I was after in my first question, but rushed phrasing it so the powers that be jumped on it and closed it. – SimonJGreen Mar 3 '12 at 18:44
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Let's look at breaking the problem down a little bit.

You're UK based, that makes thing a bit easier, there's a good market for connectivity over here.

You've currently got single homed IP Transit, provided by your datacentre.

Immediate questions on my mind are:

  1. What Committed Data Rate (CDR) do you require?
  2. How bursty is your traffic requirement?
  3. Do you require IPV6?
  4. Do you require a full table?
  5. How will they deliver the circuit? Copper ethernet? Fibre ethernet? SONET? Something Else Entirely?
  6. Are you talking about so much traffic that you have to deal with Level3, ATT and Cogent directly? Can you not start off with BGP sessions from smaller, more flexible transit providers, ie, Goscomb, or Enta, or Abovenet, etc.
  7. Where is your primary datacentre?
  8. Are they carrier-neutral? Or rather, who else has a PoP there? You can find this out at PeeringDB
  9. Do you already have a pair of routers that can handle a BGP full table?
  10. Have you done a detailed traffic analysis over a month or two to determine where all this data is going, so you could find potential peering partners? If you were sending 100TB/month to the BBC, then peering with them would be a great idea, etc.
  11. Most importantly, what's your budget?

Once you've got a list of question to ask of the potential ISP, and a list of answers for the preparation of your internal infrastructure, then you can actually start comparisons.

You might want to look at the following things, per ISP.

  • CDR,
  • Minimum contract time,
  • install fees (including setting stuff up, contract fees, the cost of having telehouse (or similar)'s staff run cables.)
  • Cost per megabit.
  • Overage charges.
  • Number of hops to destination network
  • Community reviews, what do people say about them.
  • IPV6 status: (Yes, No, Coming soon)
  • Full Table?
  • Partial Routes?
  • Static Route?
share|improve this answer
Thanks Tom, that's an incredibly useful answer :) – SimonJGreen Mar 4 '12 at 17:11

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.