Why it’s important for cable broadband providers to get an ASN

By on 20 Jul 2018

Category: Tech matters

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1998 was an exciting time in my professional career; working on the first cable broadband service deployment in the Philippines.

A combination of fibre optics and coaxial cables (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, DOCSIS 1.0 had only been released a year earlier), the resulting network ushered in high-speed Internet access in the Philippines. We were able to deliver a 10 Mbps download speed from the network operation centre to home users.

Having our own Autonomous System Number (ASN) and IP blocks meant that we didn’t get tied to a single upstream provider. We had the flexibility to shop around for price and better connectivity, and could simply change providers as needed, without any noticeable impact on customer experience.

Read: APNIC help guide for ASN requests

Fast forward to 2018; much has changed and much still remains the same. The latest cable broadband specification of DOCSIS 3.1 is capable of providing 10 Gbps symmetrical access, and ASNs still (maybe even more so) remain important for both cable broadband providers and their customers.

Benefits of having an ASN…

Apart from providing independence from upstream providers, an ASN enables cable broadband providers to have multiple upstream connections to ensure a diverse path to the Internet, as well as connectivity to regional and local Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), such as PHOpenIX in the Philippines.

ASNs are also able to assist with congestion control, a common challenge for every cable broadband provider. By using an ASN, a cable broadband provider can directly peer with other cable broadband providers in their city, reducing congestion and the cost of upstream connectivity by exchanging local traffic.

The following presentation was given at PCTA 2018

…as well as connecting to an IXP

Peering with individual providers can be time consuming and costly. That’s where IXPs can help.

An IXP allows multiple providers to connect to each other and exchange local traffic as per peering agreement. IXPs help to keep local traffic local, in doing so reducing costs and latency, potentially enhancing network performance, and encouraging the development of more local content. The catch: you need to have an ASN to connect to one.

If you do have an ASN, and are connected to an IXP, it’s best practice to form a multilateral peering or bilateral peering to individual IX participants. In the case of Manila, we encourage cable broadband providers to peer with PHOpenIX, which has many local providers as members as well as a Google cache (caches in an IXP allow faster loading of data for their members).

Note: It is important that the organizations operating an IXP remain neutral and open to all participants not just to cable broadband operators.

In the end, everyone, including the end users, gets the benefit of connecting to an IXP.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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