More information required.
Comcast can be huge twats...but if Level 3 really are trying to push more onto the Comcast network at the peering nodes than Comcast are pushing onto the Level 3 network...Level 3 should be paying.
I never understood these crazy complicated peering arrangements. To my mind, everyone should be paying everyone else to transmit bits across their network. Let’s discus this using two local carriers as examples:
If Shaw wants to transmit 500Gbit worth of traffic into Telus's network, then they should bay 500Gbit*($peering_fee/Gbit). Vice the versa, if Telus wants to transmit 400Gbit of traffic onto Shaw's network, then they should pay 400Gbit*($peering_fee/Gbit). $peering_fee should be the same in both cases. Unfortunately, Shaw and Telus can’t agree to this simple concept (they want to charge each other different $peering_fees) and thus to send a packet from my Telus connection to my buddy right next door it has to make an 18-hop, 750km round-trip. (Which is asinine, since Telus and Shaw both have racks in several dozen of the same facilities here in the city, and could put local peering in place if they could get over their corporate egos.)
This system should be bloody simple; whomever transmits more information pays more. What's really so bloody complicated about this? Hell, this is how consumer lines should work. Either charge per Gbit or by the Mbit/second. Either way, end to end, whomever transmits the most information should pay the most and whomever transmits the least should pay the least.
Apply discounts for buying bandwidth in bulk (in order to attract the larger users to using your network) and you have a functional internet! How the hell did this ever get so bloody complicated? Greedy gits, the lot of them! If you want to transmit a bit across my network, you should pay to transmit that bit. If I want to transmit a bit across your network, I should pay to transmit that bit.
What’s worse is when we start having the Comcast’s of the world wanting people on the other end of the peering arrangement to pay! Example: if Netflix buys bandwidth from Level 3, then Comcast should never be allowed to talk to Netflix about their traffic. They should be talking to Level 3 and that’s that. They should not be allowed to discriminate Level 3’s traffic in any way because Netflix is a customer and they should have to treat all bits coming from Level 3 (or anyone else for that matter) the same. If Level 3 is paying for transit across Comcast’s network, then that traffic is as valid as Comcast’s own traffic, or that of anyone else that peers with Comcast.
Similarly, Level 3 should expect to pay whatever other companies putting similar levels of traffic onto Comcast’s network pay. This isn’t exactly hard maths here. Bits cost money; there is infrastructure required to fling them, and the infrastructure gobbles power and man-hours.
I know it will make me unfavourable with some, but I really am saddened that governments haven’t stepped in and cleaned this crap up. Like Microsoft Licensing, the companies involved have almost no incentive to de-obfuscate what is obviously an unsustainable nightmarish mess. Someone needs to come in, ground these naughty children and enforce a principle of Keep It Simple, Stupid. If you can’t explain the logic behind your peering (or software licensing) in one single A4 sheet of paper at 10pt font, then it’s too damned complicated. Complexity in situations like this limits innovation and raises barriers to entry!
So as per title: a lot more information is required to know who (if anyone) is actually in the right here.