RealTime IT News

Destination-Based Bandwidth Billing is Born

Internet access is transforming the way that transport is served from an all-you-can-eat bandwidth binge to a lean, mean price-per-destination machine.

In order survive in a brutally competitive market, successful ISPs have expanded service portfolios to offer differentiated products over existing infrastructures, but never tapped into the means to bill for bandwidth consumed by packets of data.

Level 3 Communications Inc. is the first data transport wholesaler to rise to the challenge and develop a high-performance network that has the potential to reduce bandwidth costs for service providers by as much as 50 percent.

Dubbed CrossRoads, Level 3 Monday unveiled its Destination Sensitive Billing program, one of the industry's first pricing plans based on the destination of Internet traffic rather than traditional flat rate pricing.

The new service enables Level 3 customers to reap long-term bandwidth savings and bypass congested Internet exchange points.

Level 3's CrossRoads program minimizes latency and packet loss to improve the end-user experience. Additionally, service providers may finally be able to place a price tag on spammers that hijack their bandwidth.

Andrew Morley, Level 3 senior vice president of global transport and IP services said flat rate pricing might become an inefficiency of the past.

"This new service demonstrates our commitment to product innovation and attractive pricing," Morley said, "while providing unsurpassed performance for Internet service providers, Internet content companies and other Web-centric businesses."

Level 3's CrossRoads is an IP service network platform can interface with Ethernet, SONET, T-1 or OC-3 connections to deliver its packet-metering pricing plan. It uses a proprietary approach to track the destination and monitor the bandwidth usage of IP packets traveling off or on its fiber network. The result is that customers using DSB pay only for the bandwidth used.

Nisha Dass, an industry analyst with Network Strategy Partners LLC said the flexible billing program is a better fit for meeting bandwidth demands.

"Level 3's new destination-sensitive pricing is a good example of the new kinds of innovation we expect to see as the industry moves away from flat rate pricing models," Dass said.

"We are finally moving to the stage where service providers are migrating to more intelligent and creative billing," Dass added. "CrossRoads not only significantly reduces the cost of bandwidth to Level 3's customers but it also gives them the flexibility to choose the billing model more appropriate to their traffic patterns."

Brian Horsfield, Level 3 vice president of global IP services said its new CrossRoads platform would substantially change the way wholesale Internet access services are offered.

"Level 3's new destination-based billing structure rewards our customers for bringing traffic, and exchanging traffic, on our network," Horsfield said. "As a result, CrossRoads is sure to drive more bandwidth onto Level 3's metropolitan and long-haul networks in the U.S., Europe and Asia."

The service is currently available in 38 major North American markets where Level 3 owns and operates its communication gateways, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Level 3's CrossRoads service permits four different types of billing for DSB traffic categories:

  • Intra-City (Sent) - On-net traffic originating and terminating within a specific Gateway city.
  • On-Net (Sent) - Low-cost traffic originating and terminating on the Level 3 backbone. Exchange traffic with other companies directly connected to the Level 3 network anywhere in the world.<