Sprint reconnects Cogent, but differences are unresolved

Sprint says the reconnection is only temporary as the core issues in this dispute have not changed

On Sunday, Sprint Nextel reconnected its network with Cogent Communications after severing it earlier last week. The reconnection is only temporary, as the core issues in this dispute have not changed, Sprint said in a statement to its customers.

As a result, it is again possible for Sprint customers and Cogent customers to directly communicate across the Internet. Data supplied by Keynote Systems confirms that the two networks are again communicating with each other.

[ To catch up on earlier developments in this disagreement, see "Sprint-Cogent dispute puts small rip in fabric of Internet" ]

Sprint's view of what led up to its disconnecting from Cogent Communications on Oct. 30 differs substantially from what Cogent has stated.

In shutting down the peering between the two, Sprint violated a contractual obligation to exchange Internet traffic with Cogent on a settlement-free peering basis, according to Cogent. But that's just fiction, according to Sprint, because at no time did the two enter into an actual contract.

In 2006, Sprint and Cogent formed a trial agreement that ended in September last year. A three-month commercial trial indicated that Cogent didn't meet the minimum traffic exchange criteria agreed to by both parties, according to Sprint. As a result, settlement-free peering was not established, Sprint said.

Instead, Sprint wants Cogent to pay for its ongoing connection to the Sprint network. But despite repeated collection attempts by Sprint, Cogent has not done that. Nonpayment on Cogent's part is the reason Sprint decided to disconnect from Cogent last week, a process that had started on Oct. 7, and shouldn't have come as a surprise for Cogent, Sprint said in its customer statement.

What happens next remains to be seen. The two operators are involved in litigation over the matter. Sprint filed a lawsuit against Cogent on Sept. 2 in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia for breach of contract.

On its part, Cogent said it wants settlement-free peering with Sprint.

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